Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Preview- Turandot- Hong Kong Ballet

"I really want to see this one!"- Matthew, ageless

I was a very lucky blogger to receive an invite to the preview of HK Ballet's next project, Turandot. I wish more companies had the resources to perform previews as they are a great opportunity to learn about the process behind the piece. Turandot is a restaging of the award winning ballet that was commissioned by the HK Ballet back in 2003. Choreographed and conceived by Natalie Weir, she strived to bring Puccini's last masterpiece to life in a modern way!
All photos in this article are thanks to HK Ballet!
Turandot will perform March 16-18th at 7:30pm and the 17th-18th at 2:30pm at the TST Cultural Center. Tickets range anywhere from 580-100HKD for adults but there are also special ticket prices for seniors and students. A "starving artist" discount has yet to be seen by any of the major companies in Hong Kong. I hope it will come soon! I'm having trouble explaining to my mother the necessity to spent so much on theatre tickets each month!

Tonight's preview mainly consisted of Ms. Weir talking about the conception of the piece back in 2003 and how it has evolved in the restaging. Set up in "Q&A" format with a moderator, it was very laid back and was broken into sections by demonstrations of dances that would appear in the piece. (We got to see three different pieces.) There was no opportunity to see the costumes or scenery in person; but we were able to see the photos of the 2003 production and it looks pretty damn cool. Ms. Weir has 20 years choreography experience and has worked in several big names companies. Her style of choreography is more organic than most. She let's the dancer create with her and then she "almost acts like a director" to show them how to make things look better. She believes in equal partnership between the dancer and the choreographer/director. I loved the way her process sounded. Organic style directors are my favorite to work with!

Set in a fantasy world of no origin, Turandot's design is more about creating a world that brings forth the images symbolized in Puccini's Opera; such as a large sculptural face to represent the princess' coldness, or a large expansive red circle to show love bursting forth in the story. It is more avant guarde then previous productions that I have seen by this company. I am intrigued by it and I think it's going to be a stunning show visually. The music will sadly be canned rather than sang live. But this is one minor thing I think an HK Ballet audiences misses. My favorite part about going to Ballet as a child was seeing the orchestra warm up while you took your seats. When music isn't performed live at a ballet I can't help but miss the orchestra!

I prefer contemporary ballet to the classical format, so I think Turandot is more of a show for me! I prefer the raw emotion to the presentation, I guess. Neirs removed all the miming from the classical format because she felt it "unncessary". I agree, audiences are smart and they want to go on a journey with you! Suspension of Disbelief is a beautiful thing in our line of work!

Turandot is only 90 minutes long so don't expect for it to be a massive undertaking like it's operatic counterpart! They did some editing to streamline the story and moved some of the songs around a bit. I'll have to see it in full to make my final decisions on the cuts. But I like that they have made classical opera more accessible to younger audiences.
Bill Hayock's simple, draped costumes help accentuate the figures of the dancers.

The press manager of HK Ballet would like you all to know that they do a preview with almost all of their productions. They are free and there are seats available to the public. It's a great way to introduce children to ballet and the process of making a large scale production. The kids in the audience LOVED the demos, the Q&A and the process where the dancers showed how a dance is put together.
(Special props to the dancers who did the Grand Padideu (spelling? I need a french person!) !) These two dancers would show a move, get criticism from the choreographer (in front of the audience) and then improve it. It was really interesting to watch but I'm sure it was nerve racking! In order to get seats at the next preview you simply need to email the press manager after the date has been announced to see if there is a seat for you. They are free of charge; as part of the HK Ballet's Education and Outreach Program.

Again, thanks to HK Ballet for inviting me tonight. I really enjoyed it! I'll be seeing Turandot later this month to catch it in full! I hope to see you all there!

1 comment:

  1. Mon amour, ma petite choux de la Dixie's Land, je ne pas une Francophone, et mon Francais et simple et risible: mais je pense on dit "pas de deux".

    Thanks for this interesting and informative review. I saw Spartacus in Sha Tin back in 2005...no orchestra and one does miss it, but Hong Kong bods are great for dancing. I cannot imagine how they will dance viscera.