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[ENG] Le French May & Coppelia

Le Parc; Choreographer: Angelin Preljocaj; Dancers: (from left) Muriel Zusperreguy, Josua Hoffalt; Photo provided by Le French May

Paris Ballet Legends: A Night with the Stars

This year, Le French May Festival is celebrating its Silver Jubilee. The first dance program presented by this prestigious festival was a Gala entitled Paris Ballet Legends: A Night with the Stars. The lineup consisted of 13 stars, including four from the Paris Opera Ballet, four from the Compania Nacional de Danza Madrid, four from our local Hong Kong Ballet, and one from the Berlin Staatsoper. This two-part gala had a total of eleven numbers. The first half contained older choreography, while newer works were grouped in the second part.

The best performed item of the whole evening is the short 1970 ballet In the Night by Jerome Robbins. It is a thought-provoking masterly Robbins ballet consisting of three different pas de deux. The first couple seems to represent young lovers; their duet is heated and passionate. The second duet is more mature in feeling, and the couple is more refined and elegant. And finally the couple in the third duet seems querulous and tense, as symbolized by the difficult lifts. The finale is most moving when the three different couples are united in an emotional resolution.

Paris Opera Ballet stars Agnes Letestu and Stephane Bullion were particularly outstanding in the second duet. Letestu and Bullion, however, were later wasted in the second half of this program – in a trivial comic duet entitled Non, je ne regrette rien choreographed by Ivan Favier. They danced on a green mat. They should have danced a more substantial duet.

Besides In the Night, the rest are either duets or solos of mixed quality. Another highlight is the closing item – the pas de deux from Angelin Preljocaj’s 1994 ballet Le Parc set to haunting music by Mozart. The choreography is full of abandon. The episode when the man is swinging the woman round when their lips are locked in kissing is breathtaking, no matter how many times one has watched it. Muriel Zusperreguy and Josua Hoffalt were absorbing in this duet.

The Dying Swan solo unexpectedly was turned into a male solo, intensely danced by Esteban Berlaga. The duet Carmen Tojours choreographed by Frederic Fontan and Olivier Serrat is totally incomprehensible. We first see an injured patient on a wheelchair dancing with a nurse in the hospital, and the nurse later is transformed into a ‘femme fatale’. And the duet from Jose Martinez’s ballet Les Enfants du Paradis is nothing more than a boring bedroom duet.

Hong Kong Ballet dancers were shown off pretty well in this gala. Ryo Kato, the talented soloist who unfortunately is leaving after this season, was exciting in the Black Swan pas de deux. Jin Yao and Lucas Jerkander were melting in a pas de deux from Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias premiered by Hong Kong Ballet last autumn.

Coppélia; Choreographer: Ronald Hynd; Dancers: (Front) Jin Yao, Ryo Kato and Hong Kong Ballet dancers; Photo: Conrad Dy-Liacco


Hong Kong Ballet also revived Coppélia at the end of March. This fine production of the 19th century classic is by British choreographer Ronald Hynd who produced this version earlier for the English National Ballet.

This comedy is easy to appreciate even for those unfamiliar with ballet; the children in the audience laughed happily during the performance that I attended. Above all, Delibes’ music was so rhythmic and dance-able.

I saw the second cast led by Ye Feifei and Li Lin. Ye, who played the girl whose fiancé was seen flirting with a doll, has rejoined Hong Kong Ballet this season after working for several years in South Korea. She lacked the radiance of Jin Yao whom I saw in the role in an earlier revival of this production. (Jin danced the first cast again this time.) But Ye’s acting and virtuosity were good enough.

Li Lin, who normally dances character roles instead of princely roles, made a fine debut as her fiancé Franz. His technique was clean and neat. Among the supporting roles, Ge Gao shone as the Dawn soloist. This revival by Hong Kong Ballet was praiseworthy, and this ballet should be danced more often especially during the summer holidays to attract children.


Kevin Ng

started reviewing dance in 1997. He has contributed to many publications including The Financial Times, Wall Street Journal Asia, Hong Kong Economic Journal, Time Out Hong Kong, Moscow Times, Ballet Review (New York) and Ballet 2000 (Italy).

Paris Ballet Legends: A Night with the Stars

Artistic Director: Frederic Fontan

Choreogrpahers: Jean Coralli, Jules Perrot, Lev Ivanov, Marius Petipa, Jerome Robbins, Ricardo Cue, Frederic Fontan, Olivier Sarrat, Jose Martinez, Val Caniparoli, Ben Van Cauwenbergh, Ivan Favier, Angelin Preljocaj

Performance: 11 May 2017 19:45 Hong Kong Cultural Theatre Grand Theatre


Choreographer: Ronald Hynd

Performance: 26 March 2017 19:30 Auditorium, Sha Tin Town Hall

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