Peter Pan; Dancer: Venus Villa; Photo: Tony Luk (Photo provided by Hong Kong Ballet)
Choreographed by Septime Webre and based on the music composed by Carmon Deleone, Hong Kong Ballet presented the Asian premiere of Peter Pan as a gift for the kids before before returning to school after the summer holiday. It was a grand showcase incorporating both professional and young dancers to bring J.M. Barrie's classic tale to the stage with plenty of fun.
The story starts in the Darling nursery where Peter (acted by Shen Jie) meets Wendy (acted by Venus Villa), John (acted by Jordan Kan) and Michael (acted by Nicolas Yu) when Peter flies in through the window to look for his lost shadow. Wendy helps Peter by sewing his shadow back onto his body. With the fairy dust scattered over the Darling children by Tinkerbell (acted by Kim Eunsil), Peter teaches them to fly. Then, they fly toward Neverland where they encountered the Lost Boys and become friends. Led by Captain Hook (acted by Luis R. Torres), Peter’s enemy, a crew of pirates approaches the island and picks a fight with Peter. However, the pirates escape when they see the crocodile (acted by Ethan Chudnow) that once ate Hook’s right hand. Then, when the pirates see Princess Tiger Lily (acted by Chen Zhiyao) and the Indian Maidens, the pirates intimidate them and capture Lily. After Peter saves Lily, Hook vows revenge. The pirates then seize an opportunity to capture the Darling children and the Lost Boys, but they are defeated again by Peter Pan. The Darling children become homesick and so fly back home to reunited with their parents.
Before the curtain rises up, Webre comes on stage and, like a teacher, gently asks all audience to keep sitting up, pay attention and watch the performance closely, and all the kids in the front rows responded immediately. The ballet comprises five scenes in two acts. The first scene begins with Tinkerbell in green hair and dress, dancing en pointe in front of the curtain which shows the map of Neverland. A big dancing shadow of Peter Pan appearing on the map seems to tell a marvelous story of this little boy who never grows up while the Darling children are ebulliently playing with Nana the Dog (also acted by Ethan Chudnow).
Peter Pan; Dancers (from left): Luis R. Torris, Chen Zhiyao; Photo: Conrad Dy-Liacco (Photo provided by Hong Kong Ballet)
In the second scene, the spectacular set for Neverland and the cute appearance of the child dancers as different creatures was a fresh breath of air. The crocodile, in a sharp green skin, acts adorably and is received by the audience with great delight. The group dance of the Indian Maidens as well as Lily’s solo is in an Egyptian fashion, while the humorous pas de deux of Peter (as a nymph) and Hook combines elegance and coarseness.
While teaching the Lost Boys to dance in the third scene, the leaps of Peter win much applause. Then, in the fourth scene, while celebrating while celebrating the capture of the Darling children and the Lost Boys on board, each pirate’s solo dances is virtuosic and amusing. When Peter flies in and starts a sword fight, this marks the climax of the story. The excitement is heart-felt in the timely and smooth movement of the troupe in-between fighting and dancing. After his defeat, Hook’s dance with the crocodile like an Argentinian tango is ironic and hilarious.
The final scene takes the audience back to the Darling nursery, where the children are safely home again. Wendy is looking through the window and sees Peter flying and smiling outside.
Credits has to be given to the set designer, Holly Highfill, and costume designer, Liz Vandal, who created a marvelous wonderland on stage and exciting moments such as the cannonballs (acted by a few child dancers) rolling out from a giant cannon during the fight.
Shen Jie, who has warm smiles on his boyish face, is perfect for Peter Pan. It is highly recommended for family.
Lee participated in Dance Enhance in 2015 and 2017, a dance appreciation and criticism writing programme organised by the Hong Kong Dance Alliance. She is currently studying a Doctor of Applied Language Sciences programme at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and has studied flamenco since 2009.
Choreographer: Septime Webre
Performance: 24 August 2019 19:30 Auditorium, Sha Tin Town Hall