A Hong Kong ballet production allows student dancers to explore new ways of expression, writes Lai Ying-kit
People may think ballet is limited to a highbrow audience, but four young dancers will present the art form to the masses in a performance with a modern touch.
The four student dancers, from Hong Kong Ballet, are breaking new ground with Dancing Keys. The show will not only draw from modern dance and television programmes, but also incorporate live piano music and floral art arrangements.
'Many moves and ways of expression in this show are totally new to me. I have never learned them in school before,' Boniface Ho Man-yin, 23, says.
The show is choreographed by Frankie-m Lai, a former senior soloist with the ballet group. It will portray the changing of the seasons amid tunes played by award-winning pianist Lee Hin and colourful displays created by floral artist Mandy Tang.
Dancing Keys is part of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department's programme to promote the arts to a wider community. It is also an inclusive performance - getting able-bodied artists to perform alongside those with disabilities - to illustrate the idea that 'art is for everyone'.
Instead of being staged in traditional venues, this crossover show will take place in shopping malls.
And to make it more attractive to people who don't usually take an interest in these arts, the show uses some visual techniques to make it more audience friendly.
Lai says they will use modern dance elements and steps inspired by dances on television to make it fast-paced. More vigorous movements will intensify emotions to help new audiences understand the meaning behind the dances.
'We aim to show today's ballet is different from the perception many people may have,' he says.
'When it comes to ballet, most people may think of classical shows such as Swan Lake and Giselle. But modern ballet is actually very energetic and infused with new elements.
'Ballet keeps transforming so we try to show people what modern ballet is like.'
Dancing Keys is not an easy show for the young dancers because their training is in classical ballet. They have to learn a new philosophy of dance.
'This dance requires us to be more creative and gives us more freedom style-wise, but sometimes I feel tense,' says Shirley Pu Wei-hsuan, 18.
'The only way to improve is to practise again and again.'
Pianist Lee has chosen four classical pieces to go with the dances.
He says he selected well-known piano scores so it is easier for the audience to follow.
The award-winning, partially sighted pianist thinks the merging of the art forms can encourage lateral thinking.
'They can look at how artists practising different art forms explore the same theme at the same time,' he says.
Dancing Keys will be staged on May 8, 15, 22 and 30 at different venues. For further details, go to www.adahk.org.hk