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Ballet Appreciation Lecture Series V

Venue Date & Time Price
AC1, 4/F, Administration Building, Hong Kong Cultural Centre


This series focuses on full-length ballets and short pieces, and covers more than a dozen productions of various lengths and from different periods.  Through appreciating the performances of internationally renowned ballet companies and their top dancers, dance enthusiasts can see the different styles and subject matters of classical and modern full-length works as well as signature short pieces in ballet.  The audience will be able to understand further the two different creative directions of dramatic ballet and non-narrative ballet.


(Conducted in Cantonese and supplemented with English)


A love tragedy - Romeo & Juliet on 11 July

Many choreographers have given their own interpretation of the “star-crossed” love of Romeo and Juliet, and how they use dance as a medium to tell the tragic story and demonstrate their respective master craftsmanship.


Ballet performances selected for screening: Paris Opera Ballet (Rudolf Nureyev version); The Royal Ballet (UK), American Ballet Theatre, La Scala Ballet (Milan) (Kenneth MacMillan version); Stuttgart Ballet (John Cranko version) and Lyon Opera Ballet (Angelin Preljocaj’s avant garde version).


Nijinsky’s classics - Le spectre de la rose, Scheherazade and Petrushka on 18 July

The Ballets Russes, founded by Sergei Diaghilev in early 20th Century, held sway not only in its own time but also had cast seminal influence on the ballet world ever since. Its star lead, Vaslav Nijinsky, enjoyed phenomenal popularity for his performance of Mikhail Fokine’s epoch-making works, and is regarded as a ballet legend.


Ballet performances selected for screening: Bolshoi Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet of St. Petersburg and Paris Opera Ballet. 


An exotic story about love – La Bayadère on 1 August

This is a love tragedy featuring the eternal love triangle against an Indian backdrop. General Solos and the temple dancer Nikiya are in love and become betrothed. The High Brahmin is infatuated with Nikiya’s beauty but is rejected by her. Rajah Dugmanta has a high regard for Solos and wants to betroth her daughter to him. When the High Brahmin tells on the couple, the Rajah is hugely displeased to learn that Solos and Nikiya are in love. Gamzetti summons Nikiya to persuade her to give up Solos and their betrothal, to which Nikiya refused. Bearing a grudge, Gamzetti hatches a plot to kill Nikiya. Act II of the dance The Kingdom of the Shades, celebrated as a classic scene in ballet blanc, is often performed as an excerpt on its own.


Ballet performances selected for screening: The Royal Ballet (UK) (Natalia Makarova version), Paris Opera Ballet (Rudolf Nureyev version), Mariinsky Ballet of St. Petersburg and La Scala Ballet (Milan).


Beauty to Hear and Behold – Bolero, Elite Syncopations and Serenade on 8 August

These three exquisite dances were created by three iconic choreographers of 20th Century – Maurice Béjart, Kenneth MacMillan and George Balanchine.  The music, all different in mood but equally enchanting in melodic appeal, is set to visually and cerebrally satisfying choreography that overwhelms you, uplifts you, and takes you onto a higher plane with a sense of euphoria.


  • Boléro, 1960 premiere

Music: Ravel

  • Elite Syncopations, 1974 premiere

Music: Scott Joplin, James Scott & others

  • Serenade, 1935 premiere

Music: Tchaikovsky


Ballet performances selected for screening: Paris Opera Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, The Royal Ballet (UK) and New York City Ballet.


Pasión Española- Don Quixote on 15 August

Based on the novel Don Quixote by Spanish writer Cervantes, this full-length ballet contains numerous vibrant and uplifting dance segments as well as comedic and witty scenes.


Don Quixote travels far and wide in search of his dream girl Dulcinea. When he passes a square, he witnesses Kitri’s father forcing her to leave her lover Basilio, a barber, to marry a rich old man. Basilio feigns death, and Kitri begs her father to let her marry the dying Basilio. Once the ceremony is over, the couple flees. The crowd including Don Quixote follows in pursuit. On the way, he mistakes the turning windmill to be a giant and wrestles with it until he is exhausted and falls asleep. In his dreams, he sees Dulcinea and dances with her. Towards the end of the ballet, the father gives in to his daughter’s entreaties and consents to their marriage.


Ballet performances selected for screening: Mariinsky Ballet of St. Petersburg, Bolshoi Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, National Ballet of Cuba, Tetsuta Kumakawa K Ballet Company, The Dutch National Ballet and The Australian Ballet.


Revival and renewal of ballet classics – The Firebird, Scènes de ballet and Carmina Burana on 22 August

 The Firebird

Inspired by the Russian folklore which tells of the magical Firebird that defeats the evil Kashchei, choreographers of different generations have used Igor Stravinsky’s music to create their own dramatic versions, time and again bringing alive the nuanced charm of this age-old tale on stage.


Scènes de ballet    

This is a ballet short piece with no narrative elements.  Although the form of presentation is along the classical lines and adopting the same idiom of movements, it is distinguished by a non-emotive, cerebral flair.  The choreographer, Frederick Ashton, used a system of Euclidean geometry to devise the floor patterns for the dancers. As a result, it becomes a ballet that can be seen from any angle, and anywhere can be front.


Carmina Burana    

Carmina Burana is a scenic cantata composed by Carl Orff. The libretto is based on 24 of the poems, written in Latin and High German, found in the medieval collection of the same name.  David Bintley picked Orff’s cantata as the music for his modern ballet of charming humour and wit.  It tells of three young priests from a seminary who, teased by Fortuna, the goddess of Fortune, give up their spiritual vows and go after the pleasures of secular life.   


Ballet performances selected for screening: The Royal Ballet (UK), Mariinsky Ballet of St. Petersburg, National Ballet of China and Birmingham Royal Ballet.


A new adaptation of a Russian ballet – The Flames of Parison on 29 August

Apart from showing the heightened sentiment of the people in overthrowing the monarchy and the confrontational scenes, this new two-act version of The Flames of Paris set against the backdrop of the French Revolution also focuses on how two couples are drawn into turmoil and carnage in turbulent times due to their opposing class origins.


Alexei Ratmansky, former Artistic Director of the Bolshoi Ballet, launches the ballet with a sprightly rhythm, rolling out scenes of energy and magnificence quintessential of the Russian school. It provides a platform for the dancers to showcase their superb dancing skills, and brings to life the predicaments of the characters in the dance.


Ballet performances selected for screening: Bolshoi Ballet (Alexei Ratmansky 2008 and Vasily Vainonen 1930 versions)


The captivating charm of Ballet blanc – La Sylphide and Chroma on 5 September

La Sylphide

When the Italian prima ballerina Maria Taglioni danced en pointe for the first time in the two-act La Sylphide choreographed by her father, it strengthened the lifting effect and enhanced the airy quality and ethereal aura and charm peculiar to the ballerinas of 19th Century Romantic ballet.

Scottish farmer James deserts his bride on their wedding day to pursue a sylph into the forest. In order to keep her from flying away, James borrows a magic scarf from the witch to wrap around her but she dies as a result of this.



Wayne McGregor collaborates with architect John Pawson to construct a sharp white minimalist frame as the set, deftly creating a fully-fledged space of neutral colour. Along with the music, nimble dancers freely manipulate their bodies to form patterns and images. With astonishing suppleness, control, and perfect register for change in speed and explosive bursts of energy, they gradually “draw” silhouettes of scenes of multi-focus yet simultaneous rhythmic images amongst the virtually pure white set like painting on a canvas. This will give the audience a totally new sensation of rhythmic movement.


Ballet performances selected for screening: Royal Danish Ballet (August Bournonville version), Paris Opera Ballet (Pierre Lacotte version) and The Royal Ballet (UK).


One-of-a-kind Romantic Ballet – Ondine on 12 September

Adapted from Undine by German writer Friedrich de la Fouqué, this three-act dance was created by Frederick Ashton based on the novella. It tells of the tragic and romantic love between a water sprite and a mortal man in the choreographic tradition of mid-19th Century romantic ballet.


Ondine and Prince Palemon are in love but for the barrier that it is love between a mortal and the supernatural. In the end, Palemon throws all cares about his own life away and kisses Ondine, whereupon he dies in her arms.


The scenography and set design of the dance have been highly acclaimed. The unique-looking water sprites and elves, the mysterious forests, the ocean deeps, as well as the simulated undulating movements of the sea are all considered as classic sets in modern ballet.


When conceiving the role of Ondine, Ashton again adopted the tailor-made approach, putting Margot Fonteyn’s unique aura on the spot and showcasing her skilled dancing and outstanding acting talents. Through this role, she exuded a peculiar mesmerizing charm that led her eventually to her artistic accolades.


Ballet performances selected for screening: The Royal Ballet (UK)


British humour – Hobson’s Choice on 19 September

This three-act dance is an adaptation from its namesake, a play by British playwright Harold Brighouse premiered in 1915. Adopting a witty style while retaining a romantic touch, the choreographer portrays vividly the class-disparity in the love relationship between Maggie, eldest daughter of the shoe shop’s boss, and the poor cobbler Will Mossop.


Full of warmth and wit, this dance shows us the manners and mores of late 19th Century Victorian society. The choreography and the score bring to life the characters in the dance and their relationships.


Ballet performances selected for screening: Birmingham Royal Ballet


*The speaker reserves the right to change the content(s) selected for screening.



Margaret Lau holds a Bachelor of Arts degree as well as a Postgraduate Diploma in Education from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Hong Kong. Her career includes as dance instructor at the Recreation and Sports Section and the Ng Sheung Ha School of Ballet, and Business Manager of the City Contemporary Dance Company. She is a dance critic and feature writer for various magazines and newspapers in Hong Kong, and has worked as a researcher for the ‘Ballet’ section of the publication, A Dance History of Hong Kong.  Other engagements include writing feature articles, conducting dance appreciation talks and translating house programmes for dance performances for the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, the Hong Kong Arts Festival Society and the Macao Cultural Centre.  She was the translator of the teaching materials and prospectus for the RADTC programmes. She was a member of the Dance Advisory Team of the former Urban Council between 1995 and 1999, and has been the speaker of the Ballet Appreciation Lecture Series presented by the LCSD since 2009.



Tickets will be available from 11 June onwards at all URBTIX outlets, on Internet and by Credit Card Telephone Booking


Half-price tickets are available for senior citizens aged 60 and above, people with disabilities and the minder, full-time students and recipients of the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) (Limited tickets for full-time students and CSSA recipients available on a first-come, first-served basis.)


Concessionary ticket holders must produce evidence of their identity or age upon admission


Group Booking Discount

10% off for purchase of 5 lectures at regular price tickets


Patrons could enjoy only one of the above discount schemes for each ticket, please inform the box office staff at the time of purchase

Patrons aged 6 and above are welcome



Programme Enquiries: 2268 7323

Ticketing Enquiries: 2734 9009

Credit Card Telephone Booking: 2111 5999

Internet Booking: www.urbtix.hk


The lecture lasts for about two hours

The contents of this programme do not represent the views of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department

The presenter reserves the right to substitute artists and change the programme should unavoidable circumstances make it necessary



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