A balletic extravaganza by the world’s oldest national ballet company – from classical to cinematographic, and contemporary
Three signature productions from one of the world’s greatest ballet companies will be among the dance highlights of the 50th HKAF—the Asian video premiere of Rudolph Nureyev’s Romeo and Juliet, newly filmed in 2021; Eugène Polyakov and Patrice Bart’s interpretation of Giselle; and Crystal Pite’s Body and Soul.
The Paris Opera Ballet is the oldest national ballet company in the world, known for the exacting discipline it instils through its famously demanding dance school. Among the illustrious figures to have served as directors or ballet masters are Nureyev, Bart, Polyakov, Benjamin Millepied and current artistic director Aurélie Dupont.
Body and Soul, which premiered in 2019 for the Ballet, is a contemporary work set to a mixture of electronica and Chopin, choreographed by Crystal Pite, whom the Guardian has called a “dance genius”. The ballet brings together more than 40 dancers on stage, guided by the voice of actress Marina Hands, whose stage directions are transformed into body language and movements. Alternating groups and duets, Crystal Pite explores once again the concept of individuality in a production that is a challenge even for the Paris Opera Ballet, a company imbued with history.
The essence of French romance, Giselle was created for the Paris Opera Ballet in 1841, and the interpretation to be screened was staged to mark the 150th anniversary of its premiere. The production was revised in 1998 using replicas of sets created for the company by Alexandre Benois in 1924.
Screening at the HK Cultural Centre, Romeo and Juliet was choreographed by Nureyev for the London Festival Ballet in 1977. It won the Olivier Award for Best Ballet Creation. Nureyev’s version follows Shakespeare’s original very closely. His Verona is full of sex and violence, conmen and bloody riots. The numerous crowd scenes, folk dances and fencing scenes, danced with extraordinary vitality, are proof of Nureyev's outstanding talent as a choreographer. Famously demanding of its lead dancers, the show has been described as cinematic and lends itself particularly well to filmed performance.
Aurélie Dupont will speak with the premier audience about the Paris Opera Ballet’s participation in the 50th HKAF before the screening of Romeo and Juliet. The screening promises to be one of the festival’s major events.