Serenade and More
“[Serenade] The lead ballerina in the second movement, to the Tema Russo section of the Tchaikovsky score, was joyously danced by Yao Jin…She danced on a big scale and was extremely musical. “
“[Sacred Thread] Set to propulsive music by John Adams, Liang’s choreography was certainly musical and full of vitality…The joyful and folksy first part reminded me of Jerome Robinns’ West Side Story Suite for New York City Ballet…The leading couple, excellently danced by Yu-yao Liu and Jia-bo Li, seem to have an uneasy relationship, as shown by their tense pas de deux in the middle of the work, which has him trying to subjugate her at one point.”
Choreographers' Showcase 2016
“Hong Kong Ballet has a fine tradition of presenting a choreographers’ showcase nearly every year. This enables some of its own dancers to try their hands in creating new pieces.”
“More interesting is the next piece Shogun, choreographed by Ryo Kato, a soloist of the Company. It explores the rituals of a shounate. Jia-bo Li looks striking as the chief shogun in red. His duet with Yuh Egami is pretty exciting. A good contrast is provided by a female combative duet.”
“[Lin Li’s Follow Your Heart] Jun Xia stands out in a sinuous solo which is pretty feminine. Yu-yao Liu impresses as his muse.”
“[Jia-bo Li and Chao-ya He’s Night] Jun Xia is once more impressive in this piece set in moonlight. The central duet for Fei-fei Ye and Ryo Kato has some big lifts, and is quite tender. The dancing for the ensemble is energetic.”
“Dan·Sheng explores the hua-dan (young female) and wu-sheng (male martial artist) roles in Chinese opera. Yao Jin is most expressive as the opera diva.”
“She [Jurgita Dronina] was excellent in the double role of Odette/Odile. As the White Swan Odette, she was meltingly tender and lyrical. Her dancing was musical, and had weight and gravitas. And as Odile the Black Swan, she was dazzling in her technical fireworks which she accomplished with ease and smoothness, especially the final series of turns around the stage.”
“Miao-miao Liu impressed in her solo in the Act 1 pas de quatre.”“This is an encouraging start to the Hong Kong Ballet’s new season.”
“Jurgita Dronina’s, touchingly intimate telling, emphasises the woman instead of the proud mystical creature of yore. When her wrists brush against the profile of her face it is less the caressing touch of a swan’s wings than a woman miming strings of tears…the depths of her despair and later, the fullness of her courage is moving because it feels true.”
“Liu [Yu-yao Liu] has long lines and a lovely wingspan. She has beautiful moments particularly when her physical fragility opens up to reveal a sudden dam of hidden passion.”
“When he [Ryo Kato] dances he flies lifting a performance with him. His dancing is handsome, strong, full of promise.”
“The Principals were well supported by the rest of the cast in both performances. In general, the men in this company are endowed with airy jumps and clean lines. The women have gracious epaulement and a pleasant directness. The Corps is disciplined and the production, by John Meehan, shows them off effectively.”
North America Tour 2016
“[Pas de Trois from A Room of Her Own] Yu-yao Liu was particularly striking with her remarkable extension and her dramatic ability. Liu, together with Miao-miao Liu as the pretty mistress, and Jia-bo Li as the strong husband, presented a mesmerizing short story ballet.”
“[Castrati] The audience went wild with applause and vocal appreciation.”
“[Headline] Hong Kong Ballet, Polished and Ready for More”
“Company of lovely dancers”
“[In Light and Shadow] The stage brightens and is filled with the ensemble, as well as quick sections that highlight the qualities of individual dancers: the engaging wit of Jessica Burrows, the sunny appeal of Dong Ruixue and the extraordinary airiness of Xia Jun.”
“[In Light and Shadow] The piece begins with the Aria from the Goldberg Variations, where Yao Jin, partnered by Wei Wei, was beautifully lyrical. She radiated a warm and soft presence.”
“[Pas de Trois from A Room of Her Own ] The technique of both women was a superb blend of classical ballet and modernistic steps. Their sinewy arms rippled as Mr Jerkander would cast each one around in passion."
“[Castrati] I was truly blown away by the strength, bravura, exuberance, freedom and the dynamic abilities of these nine male dancers…I can attest that the men of the Hong Kong Ballet are as talented and disciplined in their performance as the greats from ABT long ago.”
“[In Light and Shadow] Jun Xia’s gorgeous arched feet and 180-degree extension were reminiscent of the famous Vladimir Malakhov. I believe I will continue to hear of his accomplishments, and that he will obtain the admiration of many balletomanes.”
“I honestly haven’t seen an entire company dance with such skill and heart in a long time. Artistic Director Madeleine Onne; Senior Ballet Master Jing Liang; Ballet Mistress Min Tang; and all those who have coached these dancers need to know that their efforts have come to fruition. Please continue to keep classical and neo-classical at this level of excellence.”
“A technical and beautiful force” “[Pas de Trois from A Room of Her Own] Leg extensions gorgeously highlighted by the skirts underscore this soulful and sad work that compels the audience to view it with wonder.”
“By and large, the most memorable piece of the night is the turbulent Castrati…The presence of the full cast evokes a visceral viewing experience split by intrigue.”
“[In Light and Shadow] Ability and artistry cannot be contested as the dancers are clearly expert in their craft.”
“Hong Kong Ballet’s reputation is well earned and under the direction of Madeleine Onne continues to prove itself as an important staple in the world of ballet.”
“The dancers handled Duato’s choreography well, and Jie Shen danced the chosen boy with an extraordinarily rich emotional range.”
“[In Light and Shadow] The women were the focal points, led by a somewhat solemn woman in a blue-green skirt (Liu Miao-miao), a vivacious, sensuous one in a red dress (Jessica Burrows), and a vibrant one in a yellow print skirt (Dong Ruixue) who brought a particularly lively, youthful air to her dancing. All three lit up the stage whenever they appeared, regardless of the lighting used to illuminate them. The concluding section of the piece, in which groups of dancers occupy separate areas of the stage and take turns as the segment’s focus, is particularly well choreographed and interesting to watch.”
“A woman in a lovely blue gown, Liu Yu-yao, sits in a Spartan-looking room at an equally Spartan-looking desk, writing. A man Li Jia-bo) and younger-looking woman (Liu Miao-miao), both in white, suddenly materialize and dance together passionately.”
“This is an engaging group of dancers, who might well be a very fine group of classical and contemporary ballet dancers judging from the company’s repertoire and its determination to be a player in international ballet.”
“[Castrati] The ensemble cast of Jie Shen, Jun Xia, Wei Wei, Jia-bo Li, Lucas Jerkander, Shunsuke Arimizu, Chun Long Leung, Ricky Hu, and Lin Li brought great power to Duato’s choreographic images…From the efforts made by the Company’s Artistic Director, Madeleine Onne, and the excellent performances of the dancers, in this performance Hong Kong Ballet proved itself to be a company of international standard.”
“The Sleeping Beauty was beautiful, graceful and exact. The dancers made this impossibly technical performance look effortless. While the ballerinas spun quadruple pirouettes on point and the ballerinos did saubresaut’s two feet in the air.”
“The powerful and crisp Hong Kong Sinfonietta – paired with outstanding performances from specific members of Hong Kong Ballet – made this production a festive season must see.”
“This amalgamation of creativity produced new movement and new characters whilst still being set to the timeless elegance of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s intense and revered score.”
“This plot change allows Fritz to have a more significant role in the ballet, and the partnership of Clara and Fritz performed by Dong Ruixue and Shen Jie was most enchanting.”
“Most poignant was that of the Egyptian Duet which was expertly choreographed and exotically executed by Gao Ge and Lucas Jerkander. The Russian Dolls, danced by Jessica Burrows and Shunsuke Arimizy received great applause for their performance too.”
“It was most impressive to see a culmination of new and intuitive choreography paired with Tchaikovsky’s traditional composition.”
“Made for a wonderful family-orientated performance, full of Christmas merriment – a treat for old and young alike.”
Romeo and Juliet
“Liu is currently the most outstanding female principal dancer in the company. Her artistry is in full bloom and she is currently dancing at the height of her power...She is ecstatic in the balcony duet, and her death scene is moving.”
“The supporting roles are also strongly cast. Shen Jie is a vivacious Mercutio. Jin Yao dances authoritatively as Lady Capulet, while Li Lin is convincing as the evil Tybalt. The sets and costume designs by Toer van Schayk are sumptuous.”
“All the more credit to the first cast of Wei Wei and Liu Miao-miao for some ravishing dancing – swift, fluid and musical. Liu was radiant in her debut as a gentle, moving Juliet, while Wei has the happy gift of always making you believe he’s in love with his ballerina…Shen Jie (as Romeo) and Dong Ruixue (as Juliet) – both making their debuts – also shone. Their youth and intense rapport made them utterly convincing.”
“In the supporting roles there was dazzling dancing. Both Tybalts – the sneering, silkily feline Li Lin and the ferocious, snarling Lucas Jerkander – were outstanding. Also impressive were the two Mercutios – Shen displayed immaculate dancing and vivid acting while Xia Jun did well in his first big dramatic role and produced some thrilling virtuosity.”
“It’s not only full of innovative dance, but also rich in dance vocabulary, allowing the dancers to show a wide range of performance skills…Hong Kong Ballet danced with dynamism. The choreography is musical and is pleasing to watch.”
“Liu Miao-miao is made for the role of Juliet. Her tiny and graceful frame is perfect. Her technique is steely and her performance is moving. The moment in the pas de deux when she throws herself from a considerable height into Romeo’s arms was most touching…Wei Wei is a warm and gentle performer who communicates well with audience.”
“The rest of the cast also produced high quality dance…Lucas Jerkander has a sharp, quick, ambitious quality as Tybalt and acts up a long stormy fight with Xia Jun’s excellent Mercutio… Xia Jun’s performance was perfectly furnished with fast turns and precise jumps, all topped off by warm communicative acting that made his death a true tragedy.”
Choreographers' Showcase 2015
“Hong Kong Ballet’s choreographic showcase programmes are a vital means of identifying and nurturing creative talent in the company.”
“The high point was guest Nguyen Ngoc Anh’s Evol, inspired by the city’s ultra-modern architecture...A dazzling piece in the manner of William Forsythe, it was danced with daring and energy by a cast of five, with Xia Jun and Gao Ge the stand-outs.”
“The most substantive work from the home team was Li Jiabo’s dark, dreamlike Keep Watch, set to music by Arvo Pärt and performed movingly by Liu Yu-yao and Shen Jie.”
“Two young dancers showed promise as choreographers. Yui Sugawara’s Enlightening was impressively accomplished, with strong structure and excellent use of space, while Kenneth Hui Ka-chun’s Panta Rhei evoked the daily struggle of life in a crowed city through bold, dynamic movement.”
Pinocchio"The whole evening is held together and lifted by Shen Jie, who dances with effortless virtuosity and makes a vividly expressive Pinocchio"
"…lavish production values, strong dancing and a star performance from Shen Jie in the title role"
"Isberg's choreography is attractive and expressive, notably for the Cricket (the delightful Liu Yu-yao) the Cat (the slyly sensuous Liu Miao-miao) and the Fox (the dashing and sinuous Li Lin)."
"Fantasy material demands top-notch design and here Pinocchio is a triumph. Jérôme Kaplan's costumes, Bo-Ruben Hedwall's sets, Jordi Castells' painting and Aya Mok's props are ingenious, imaginative and skilfully executed."
"The handsome company shows commendable range not only in the authority of their bold allegro work, but also in the polish of their mime and in the delicate precision of their commedia dell’arte antics."
"The fleet-footed Shen Jie won hearts in the role of Pinocchio. ….. Li Jia-bo was an exceptionally fine Gepetto ….. Jin Yao as the Blue Fairy was tentative and remote…"
"What this theater demands is the seriousness of the child at play," wrote Kenneth Gross"...a demand that Hong Kong Ballet has triumphantly fulfilled."
"One can simply be dazzled at the visual spectacle of the ensemble in full commedia finery."
"Wit of the highest order is on display in Kaplan’s costuming. No less fantabulous are Hedwall’s abstract sets and backdrops..."
"The simplest of effects work like magic against these spectacular backdrops, moodily lit to convey tranquility, sadness, or a sense of menace."
"Throughout, the Hong Kong Sinfonietta soared in the Respighi score, imaginatively confected by conductor Benjamin Pope."
Paquita. Bolero. Carnival+“The production (Bolero by Yuh Egami and Ricky Hu) is a technical tour de force, from the constantly transforming set to the black fans with knives in their blades that open and close on the heads of the demons, a dark echo of the white fan on which the girl ultimately writes her suicide note. The risky, amibitious concept was executed superbly by Egami, Hu and the design team of Siu Wai-man(sets), Bridget Steis (costumes), Aya Mok (props) and Alice Kwong (lighting)."
"The cast maintained the impeccable precision called for by the technical aspects while performing with passion and commitment. Liu Yu-yao gave a searing portrayal of a girl losing touch with reality, and Lucas Jerkander was poignant as her lover."
"Alexei Ratmansky's version of Saint-Saëns' Le Carnaval des Animaux reflected the wit and charm of music. If not one of Ramtmansky's major works, it shows his inventiveness, musicality and humour. It was splendidly performed, with the dancers romping through the technical difficulties and bringing out the comedy."
Turandot“The production is a superb piece of theatre, distinguished by Weir’s fine choreography and Bill Haycock’s stunning designs.”
“Dancing the title role for just the third time, Zhang Siyan made it her own. As seductive as she is imperious, her Turandot gloats over her prey like a gorgeous, glittering praying mantis. Zhang is equally convincing portraying Turandot’s anguish over the ancestor whose rape and murder inspired her hatred of men and her rapturous discovery of love. Her dancing is magnificent, with the long-held arabesques that are a signature of the role a high point.”
“Li Jiabo made an impressive debut as Calaf two years ago. He has maintained the passion and emotional intensity of that performance while adding greater technical assurance, particularly in the partnering with its many soaring lifts. Li’s physicality and freedom of movement are ideal for Weir’s choreography and this is an outstanding interpretation.”
“Dong Ruixue was an exquisite Liu – touching in her devotion to Timur and Clalaf, lyrical in her dancing and her body responding to the choreography with immense expressiveness.”
Choreographers' Showcase 2014"[Horn] Yuh Egami and Ricky Hu are already established choreographers and this was evident in their offering, Horn."
Turandot, Northrop"Hong Kong Ballet gave a passionate and technically daring performance"
"Wei Wei (Calaf) and Liu Yu-Yao (Turandot) make for an elegant pair, with each vigorously interpreting Weir’s intricate and sometimes acrobatic choreographic perspective. The same goes for the fleet-footed Liu Miao-Miao (Liu), who fully embraces the joy and tragedy of her doomed character."
"A chorus of 20 dancers moves as one breathing body, serving as shadowy mourners and graceful celebrants. This is a virtuosic and personable company, currently under the direction of Madeline Onne... Bill Haycock’s set and costumes as well as Kim Lee’s lighting all are worthy of mention."
"This premiere of Serenade is definitely a triumph for the company"
A Celebration of Dance –
"[Serenade] ... all the principals caught the feeling of the ballet well, with fine performances by Nina Matiashvili, Dong Ruixue and Frank van Tongeren."
The Hong Kong Ballet at 35
"[Castrati] ... Shen Jie repeated his riveting interpretation of the lead role, and Ricky Hu and Xia Jun were also outstanding."
"[Swan Lake Act III] ... Zhang Siyuan was both glamorous and technically brilliant; Li Jiabo brought new assurance to his variations as well as his partnering."
Don Quixote“Hong Kong Ballet's 2014/15 season opened in style with a sparkling new production of Don Quixote by former Bolshoi stars Nina Ananiashvili and Aleksei Fadeechev."
"Nobody knows Don Quixote better than Ananiashvili, one of the all-time great Kitris and Fadeechev, who has staged it before, notably at the Bolshoi. This production is admirably tailored to fit the Hong Kong Ballet’s resources and local audience tastes without sacrificing authenticity."
"...The result is a fast-paced feast of non-stop dancing, as entertaining for family audiences as it is satisfying to ballet lovers. The concept is well matched by Thomas Mika's designs - bold and colourful, with good, clean lines that enhance the movement."
"There was outstanding solo work from Zhang Siyuan, Li Lin and Naomi Yuzawa, a hilarious Gamache from Jonathan Spigner and an endearingly confused Don Quixote from Kostyantyn Keshyshev."
"The first night saw a splendid Basilio from Wei Wei - funny, charismatic and stylishly danced. Liu Yuyao made a charming Kitri and, in her first turn as principal, lifted her dancing to a new level."
But if I had to pick just one phrase that best characterizes this modern ballet company, which performs through Sunday at the Pillow, it would be austere beauty.
I've seen other dance groups perform Castrati before, but The Hong Kong Ballet's performance of this disturbing work had a sharpness and crispness that really made the piece stand out.
What better way to start another great season this summer at Jacob's Pillow?
Mixed Bill, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival,
Under the expert leadership of Madeleine Onne, the group seems even more of a cohesive unit since its 2012 Pillow debut, and a number of individuals boasting generous artistry and technical prowess bathe the company in a warm glow….
……[Fei Bo’s] A Room of Her Own left me wanting much more….Repeatedly, a right tone is struck; these are not mannered, fussy dancers who cant enigma into melodrama.
….Krzysztof Pastor’s 2000 In Light and Shadow…..Pastor deftly — but surely it is with a magician’s hand! — keeps the near-chaos always within a structure. Somehow, everything belongs here: a cheeky women’s section in which only their lower legs are fully lit, a haunting male solo, two side-by-side but stylistically miles-apart duets. Tatyana van Walsum’s costumes, a potpourri of color, texture, and style, could be incongruous but instead are a fabulous match, more punch for the party.
The dancers, meanwhile, just nail it with their sincerity, the truth of their joie de vivre.
Les Sylphides and More“…a well balanced mixed programme… This new production [of Michel Fokine’s 20th century plotless masterpiece Les Sylphides] staged by the artistic director Madeleine Onne, is a welcome addition to The Hong Kong Ballet’s repertory.”
“the pas de deux was beautifully danced by Jin Yao and Wei Wei, while Wu Fei-fei stood out among the four soloists.”
“The pas de deux from act two of Le Corsaire was stylishly danced by two soloists of the Royal Swedish Ballet – Jordan-Elizabeth Long and Adilijiang Abudureheman”
“Tan Yuan Yuan and her long-time dance partner Damian Smith, both principals of the San Francisco Ballet…first performed the intense duet Finding Light by Edwaard Liang. Here they were completely in tune with each other. They were even more ecstatic in Christopher Wheeldon’s Five Movements, Three Repeats. This was a perfect showcase of the dancers’ great partnership. Tan has an amazing plasticity, and her ethereal body is pliable. In this duet, her arms were most expressive, while her legs just floated off the ground in supported lifts.”
“This energetic piece [Jorma Elo’s Shape of Glow] consists of three sections without any prominent lead soloists…In the allegro first movement, the choreography is dazzling in its virtuosity. The second adagio movement is the best crafted of the three and features several couples. The most expressive being the lead couple of Li Jia-bo and Liu Miao-miao…Male dancers Li Jia-bo and Shen Jie particularly stood out in their solos…[Shape of Glow is] a challenging technical showcase finely danced by the whole company. It was certainly a rousing end to the evening.”
Les Sylphides - Li Ming's speed and sparkling footwork, Wu Feifei's lyrical arms and Jin Yao's soaring jumps in the mazurka were all outstanding.
[Shape of Glow] is a strong addition to [The] Hong Kong Ballet's repertoire and a triumph for its dancers.
Shape of Glow - the whole cast was superb, especially Dong Ruixue, Liu Miao-miao, Shen Jie and Li Jia-bo, while two corps de ballet members, Shunsuke Arimizu and Jun Xia, made a striking impression.
A Ballet Soirée“[Castrati] Nacho Duato’s choreography combines strong movement with an androgynous quality as disquieting as it is distinctive… The company’s men have always shone… they danced with extraordinary speed, power and intensity. Shen Jie gave a searing portrayal of the youth about to be sacrificed and Yo Takahira’s astonishingly fluid solo was a stand-out.”
Emerging Choreographers –
“The 2012 edition was the best yet and included work worthy of a place in the company’s permanent repertoire. The evening’s longest and most substantive piece, White Lies, by Yuh Egami and Ricky Hu, was a tour de force. Complex, ambitious and stylish… Egami and Hu know how to deploy their dancers en masse with skilful use of space as well as how to make individuals shine… The fun side of the piece is balanced by the emotional intensity of Wei Wei’s solos set to Nina Simone and his stunning duet with Wu Fei-fei and by the mournful, elegiac ending.”
2012: the beginning or the end?
Cinderella“Liu Yu-yao proved yet again what a fine actress-dancer she is… Her dancing was expressive and beautifully phrased, with ravishing length of line… Wu Yan, whose solos showed off his buoyant elevation and excellent schooling… Wu and Liu danced well together… the closing pas de deux was confidently performance and made a charming finale.”
Giselle“So confident and complete was her (Zhang Si Yuan’s) performance… Touching in her innocence at the beginning, heart-wrenching in her mad scene and sadly, serenely loving in Act 2, this was an immaculate interpretation. Her dancing was equally good: musical, fluid and full of the lightness and speed the role demands. The way that she paced Act 2 to build the dancing to a climax was remarkable in its maturity.”
Turandot“One of the best works ever made for the company… In an electrifying matinee performance, three young dancers made outstanding debuts in the leading roles. Li Jia-bo danced Calaf with blinding commitment and impassioned intensity. Ye Fei-fei made Turandot’s transition from implacable ice princess to young woman in love totally convicing, and Liu Miao-miao was a lyrical, heart-rending Liu. The entire company performed with passion and vibrancy.”
Moments in Time
“[Luminous] a truly satisfying piece, as quietly radiant as its title. The swift, fluid choreography is admirably musical and the interaction between the dancers has gained in emotional depth and complexity.”
“A dazzling duet between Jin Yao and Wei Wei deserves a special mention, but this quintessentially ensemble work was danced – and acted – beautifully by the entire cast and showed the company at its best.”
“Shen Jie gave a seamlessly phrased virtuoso performance in this Bournonville pastiche…”
International Ballet Gala 2011
Choreographic Showcase 2011:
“… the most sophisticated piece was Yuh Egami’s OIOIO…Ye Fei-fei, Li Jia-bo and Li Lin performed admirably… Spare, sinewy and well-structured, this thoughtful piece would repay more than one viewing.”
Inspired by the 5 Elements
Jazz, Rituals and War:
“…it was good to see the company perform them to such a high standard…”