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Lecture Series on Appreciating Ballet – ‘Famous Choreographers and Their Masterpieces’

Venue Date & Time Price
AC2, 4/F, Administration Building, Hong Kong Cultural Centre


Free Seating


About the Programme

In this Lecture Series, a selection of over a dozen narrative as well as non-narrative ballets by 20th-century and contemporary choreographers of international renown are presented to illustrate their creative styles in their treatment of different themes. The audience will also be able to see the high performance standards of full-company ballet troupes in their presentation of these masterpieces.


17 July     Cinderella       

Cinderella in her glass slippers meets her prince in a ball, and they fallen in love by the end of a dance. Later, the prince overcomes multiple hurdles to find Cinderella who has left without saying goodbye. The story ends with the lovers happily getting married.

Here are three dance versions by Frederick Ashton, David Bintley and Christopher Wheeldon, three choreographers from the UK belonging to three generations, of this timeless fairy tale that has become a universal favourite.

Video Clips: The Royal Ballet (UK), Birmingham Royal Ballet, the Dutch National Balletetc.


24 July     Jewels, Stars & Stripes

Jewels by George Balanchine is in three parts. Emeralds evokes 19th-century Romanticism and the elegance and grace of the French school of ballet; Rubies showcases the crisp agility and cerebral style of modern dance movements and rhythms; and Diamonds presents the style, standard and order of Imperial Russian ballet characterized by its grandeur and splendour.

Stars & Stripes is in five acts, set to the music of marches composed by John Philip Sousa, known as ‘the March King’. This short piece has been described by choreographers as ‘a balletic parade’, underscoring the American parade style that permeates the piece.

Video Clips:︰Paris Opera Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet of St. Petersburg, New York City Ballet


7 August          Onegin, Pineapple Poll

John Cranko's full-length ballet Onegin portrays the tragedy of a cold and arrogant man and a young woman called Titania's misplaced love for him. The one-act Pineapple Poll uses an exaggerated and rowdy-comic style to unfold the misguided love pursuits of the colonel and sailors on a warship, a waiter in a bar, and a flower girl.

One tragic and the other comedic, these two ballets are totally different in style and in theme, giving the audience a deeper insight into Cranko's creative versatility.

Video Clips: Stuttgart Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Birmingham Royal Ballet, National Ballet of China


14 August        Checkmate, Les Noces, Five Brahms Waltzes in the Manner of Isadora Duncan

Bronislava Nijinska (1890-1972, Vaslav Nijinsky's sister) and Ninette de Valois (1898-2011, founder of the Royal ballet of UK) were two colossal female choreographers of the 20th Century, each known for their distinct and unique styles. The former's choreography of Stravinsky's Les Noces was one of the top numbers in the repertoire of Serge Diaghilev's Ballet Russes, while the latter is well-known for her Checkmate, which transforms a war of chess into dance scenes of vivid imagery.

Apart from having known Nijinska for some years and admiring her for her avant-garde choreographic style, the young Ashton also felt deeply moved by the pioneering modern dance choreographer and dancer Isadora Duncan (1877 – 1927) for her unrestrained and naturally-expressive style and image. She was his muse in creating Five Brahms Watlzes in the Manner of Isadora Duncan.

Video Clips: The Royal Ballet (UK), Mariinsky Ballet of St. Petersburg, Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet


21 August       Lady of the Camellias, Margureite & Armand

Marguerite and Armand are deeply in love, but due to their difference in social status, they are under social pressure and suffer hindrance from many quarters. After repeated humiliations, Marguerite languishes and dies from sickness. A regretful Armand can only live on past memories amidst her legacy.

Whether it is the portrayal of characters, staging and the conception of physical movements and rhythms, both John Neumerier's three-act Lady of the Camillias and Ashton's one-act Marguerite & Armand are deeply moving.

Video Clips: the Hamburg Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, The Royal Ballet (UK) etc.


28 August    Carmen, La Dance de Pique, Chaplin Dances

In his lifetime, Roland Petit choreographed over a hundred full-length and short pieces. He crafted for himself an outstanding style with his unique originality, personal taste, wit and humour, a strong dramatic element and a rich sensuous impact.

These three short ballets reflect the choreographer's emotions in their respective ways: Carmen is sensual and passionate, La Dance de Pique, eerie and tragic, and Chaplain Dances, tragi-comic.

Video Clips:︰Paris Opera Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, Tamiyo Kusakari, Luigi Bruno etc.


4 September    Sylvia

Shepherd Aminta falls in love with huntress nymph Sylvia, but so does the evil hunter Orion, who kidnaps Sylvia when he has the chance. Eros comes to the rescue and the lovers are re-united. Diana, Goddess of the Hunt and Chastity, is enraged by the love relationship, while the episode reminds her of her past love.

Ashton, Neumerier and Bintly worked respectively in their choreographic conception to interpret the trials and tribulations of a love relationship between a goddess and a mortal. The result is a contrast between the style of ‘old world’ ballet and a contemporary touch superimposed on an ancient mythical story.

Video Clips: The Royal Ballet (UK), Paris Opera Ballet, the Hamburg Ballet, National Ballet of Japan


11 September     Mayerling, Concerto

One of Kenneth Macmillan's masterpieces, the three-act Mayerling is inspired by the 1889 incident in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in which Crown Prince Rudolph and his mistress Marie Vetsera were found dead in his hunting lodge in the Vienna Woods. The ballet tells the story of a complex liaison dangereuse in the Austro-Hungarian court, depicting the ugly side of human nature and a sinister psychopathic state of mind. It features several duets by the protagonists which reflect their internal turmoil and dilemmas, and changes in their thoughts and emotions.

Concerto is set to the music of Shostakovich's Piano Concerto no. 2, and is in three movements. The entire piece requires dance virtuosity, a sharp and delicate musical sense and aesthetically pleasing choreography, showing amply MacMillan's unique insight and understanding of musical rhythms.

Video Clips: The Royal Ballet (UK), National Ballet of China


18 September  The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid choreographed by John Neumerier is adapted from Hans Christian Andersen's famous children’s classic. The Little Mermaid, for her love of the prince, bears with great pain to transform herself into a human only to lose his love for her. In the end, she is transformed into foam and disappears in the boundless sea.

Neumerier creates the role of the Poet in the ballet, which serves to enhance the artistic persuasion of the ballet by underscoring the complex emotional changes of the protagonist who goes after true love without expecting anything in return.

Video Clips: San Francisco Ballet, the Hamburg Ballet


25 September          Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

This ballet by Christopher Wheeldon, supremo of the new generation of UK choreographers, is inspired by the English children's classic of the same name. Alice, White Rabbit, Knave of  Hearts, Queen of Hearts, Card soldiers, Cheshire Cat, Caterpillar, Flamingoes, etc. appear one by one in the dream world. Their characters are distinct and their movements witty and humorous. The choreographer creates wonderful dance movements in a delightful and joyous scene with the use of eloquent staging, and a witty, humorous and original style of presentation.

Video Clip: The Royal Ballet (UK)



Each lecture lasts for 2 hours without intermission.

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




Margaret Lau

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 lecture series presented by the LCSD since 2009.




Tickets will be available from 19 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, full-time students and recipients of the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA).  (Limited tickets for CSSA recipients available on a first-come first-served basis.) 


10% off for each purchase of standard tickets of 5 lectures or above. 


Patrons can enjoy only one of the above discount schemes for each purchase.  Please inform box office staff at the time of purchase.


Internet Booking: www.urbtix.hk

Credit Card Telephone Booking: 2111 5999




Programme Enquiries: 2268 7323

Ticketing Enquiries: 3761 6661

Credit Card Telephone Booking: 2111 5999

Internet Booking: www.urbtix.hk


The contents of lectuer series do not represent the views of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

The presenter reserves the right to substitute speaker and change the lecture content should unavoidable circumstances make it necessary.



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