Yesterday night, the Hong Kong ballet started its 40th Anniversary Season. The ballet company’s new director, Septime Webre, brought his own production of “Peter Pan” to Hong Kong. It was an Asian Première and the audience seemed excited to discover this ballet.
Septime came out to the stage and gave a casual speech before the performance began. He thanked the partners of this production (LeeGarden and Hysan Place to my memory) and explained to the audience a few basic rules for watching a ballet performance. Like not to talk, no photo shooting… etc. He also talked about the words “Bravo” for a male performer, “Brava” for a female, and “Bravi” for several. I appreciate how he gives the company much more exposure and aims to educate the Hong Kong audience and invite them to the world of ballet.
Peter Pan was a very lively and funny production with fairytale-like costumes and sets. Of course, with flying main characters throughout the entire performance which was quite interesting to see. The dancers showed strong technique and beautiful lines too. It is especially suitable for families to bring their kids and see ballet for the first time as it is very accessible. Probably inspired by American musicals, Peter Pan is very entertaining to watch.
Before I leave, I bumped into some of my old ballet teachers and ballet friends! So good to see them again after all these years!
My ballet school’s annual performance in Hong Kong, Stars of Tomorrow 2019, took place at Shatin Town Hall yesterday evening. This event brought me back loads of good memories of course. I had been performing in it for many years, and it had been for me the end of a wonderful summer where I could dance all day, everyday. Yesterday, I watched it from the audience. All the students danced beautifully and even, professionally! This made me very proud of my former ballet school. Very proud.
When I was still a student, doing several pieces in the first part and the lead role in the second part of the performance, those few days of shows and rehearsals in the theatre were very tiring. One year, just before the first show, I received a huge bag full of different types of good-show snacks. What a nice surprise it was! I felt so touched and energised for the performance after!
Another memory was in London. It was the very first time for me to travel on my own to Europe, to attend the Royal Ballet School’s summer intensive, at the age of 14. The summer intensive course lasted for two weeks in London. After the first few days, I was totally overwhelmed by the new environment and all that was happening around me that I was not familiar with. I was very very homesick….. Then, my future host family (who received me during weekends in Paris) went to the China Town in London and left me a huge bag full of Chinese/Asian snacks at the dormitory where I stayed, since they were aware of my homesickness……….
I’ve never forgotten these kind gestures, and I think the best way to thank these people is to pass on their thoughtfulness and generosity to other people.
During our 4-days trip, we spent most of the time visiting the city of Taipei. Although we can notice the mix of Japanese-Chinese culture, the unique identity of Taiwan, enjoy the night markets (with delicious and cheap street food), certain arty districts….. etc., there was no major surprise inside the city. On our last day, we went to a village called Jiufen (九份) which is approximately one-hour by bus from the city center of Taipei and it was much more deserving to see.
Upon our arrival at Jiufen, we could appreciate this beautiful view. We knew that Taiwan is known for its natural landscapes, but it often require a lot of travelling to get to the nice places. We walked upwards a little and there was a long street, packed with small local artisanal shops on both sides and with red Chinese lanterns nicely hanging down, it was a pleasant discovery.
p.s. I am deeply saddened by what is happening right now in Hong Kong……. this is very different from the Hong Kong that I used to love and be proud of………..
Two weeks ago, my family visited Taiwan for the first time. We went to the capital, Taipei. We wanted to spend some quality time together away from all distractions that we can have in Hong Kong. It is only two hours by plane from Hong Kong, how could we not have visited this place before?
We first visited the National Palace Museum of Taipei which is particularly well known for having one of the largest collection of Chinese artworks in the world. It was indeed very impressive to see. The permanent collection there is HUGE. There were two exhibition halls. We spent a whole day at Hall 1 marvelling at different kinds of Chinese artworks but didn’t have time to finish looking at every part of the collection, let alone the Hall 2.
More about Taiwan in the next posts…..
Paris Opera Ballet’s Asia Tour ended. We performed in Singapore and in Shanghai, each time I discovered a new cosmopolitan Asian city more or less similar to Hong Kong.
This tour had been especially satisfying for me. Other than visiting Shanghai and Singapore for the first time, performing in three different ballets that I love in Asia was very rewarding. Bringing my French colleagues around Shanghai, picking up the role of the translator, and watching them trying different Chinese dishes for the first time was very fun too.
While my fellow colleagues returned to Paris at the end of the Tour a few days ago, I stayed in Shanghai to visit a bit more and to take class with the Shanghai Ballet. I was very fortunate to have had this opportunity, I learned a lot, naturally.
I was back in Hong Kong yesterday evening. Upon my arrival at the Hong Kong International Airport, it felt like home. Unlike in the other two Asian cities and despite all the amazing qualities that they possess, everything just seem so right in Hong Kong.
It is just so good to be home~
The Paris Opera Ballet is leaving for Singapore this coming Monday. I have been waiting for this Asia Tour for a long time. During the last tour to Japan with the Opera, I was an understudy and didn’t get to perform in Tokyo. However, this time I will be performing in Rudolf Nureyev’s Swan Lake, Forsythe’s Blake Works I, and Crystal Pite’s Seasons Canon, in Singapore and in Shanghai.
In Singapore, we will do a contemporary program with Forsythe, Robbins and Pite, from 21st to 23rd June at the Esplanade Theatre.
In Shanghai, we will perform Swan Lake from 29th June to 1st July and the contemporary program on 4th and 5th July at the Shanghai Grand Theatre.
I have never been to these two cities. Nevertheless, from the trilogy Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan gave me insight into the city of Singapore. It appears to be a very orderly small country with a lot to discover. Also, I have been hearing so much about how Shanghai and the rest of China have developed rapidly since the past few years. Naturally, I am every excited to see it with my own eyes.
The Paris Opera is partnering with Le Coq Sportif for this Asia Tour. Apparently, Le Coq Sportif is one of the French pioneers in sportswear. So for the tour, received the an outfit like this, which I am not too fan of… It is for me a very sporty look for the Paris Opera, very much the image of the French national team in the Olympics… Anyway, thank you Le Coq Sportif for supplying our practice clothing.
Now that the degree course is over, I have much more free time and I am not quite used to this extra time yet. On Thursday evening, there was another Marco Polo Club (Cathay Pacific frequent flyers’s Club) event at Musée Maillol at the left bank of Paris. Even though I am not at all a “frequent” Cathay flyer, the director kindly invited me to the reception. We were offered a visit of the temporary exhibition at the museum, showing a part of Emil Bührle‘s painting collection. It was my first exhibition since such a long time and I enjoyed the visit very much, it is indeed a great collection.
At the end of the visit, we were received at the cafe of the museum. What a surprise, the modern chic decorated cafe was full of charm. At first, I was awkwardly sitting at a corner alone, observing, as usual, with a glass of freshly pressed orange juice. But very soon, I started chatting with other people over nice food and drinks, and enjoyed the evening very much.
In these events, we meet different new people. Talking to strangers can always be a challenge at first, especially for me. But if we accept to open ourselves and take the first step to show our interest in others, we let Life to bring us these wonderful encounters. Sometimes, we even meet people with whom we’ll keep a lasting relationship.
Here’s a private Youtube video (only visible in this blog), of an extract from a dress rehearsal of Speak for Yourself, in which I recently performed.