Hong Kong Ballet to Open Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, 6/18-22

Hong Kong Ballet to Open Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, 6/18-22

Following its 2012 Jacob's Pillow debut, The Hong Kong Ballet returns with sleek elegance, technical precision, and a range of contemporary ballets. Directed by Madeleine Onne, former Artistic Director of The Royal Swedish Ballet, the company performs a varied program that includes Polish choreographer Krzysztof Pastor's In Light and Shadow, set to Johann Sebastian Bach's "Goldberg Variations" and "Orchestral Suite in D Major No. 3". The company's male dancers will present Nacho Duato's commanding Castrati, which explores themes of masculinity and sacrifice to the music of Antonio Vivaldi and Karl Jenkins. A poetic trio from A Room of Her Own, by National Ballet of China resident choreographer Fei Bo, opens this international program. The Hong Kong Ballet kicks off the 2014 Festival in the Ted Shawn Theatre, June 18-22.

"The Hong Kong Ballet is one of the top international ballet companies, and we are building greater recognition for them in the U.S." states Ella Baff, Executive and Artistic Director of Jacob's Pillow. "The dancers are divine - elegant but passionate and impressive in the range of what they can perform - from the core classics to new, contemporary work. This engagement is also a chance to see at least one aspect of what's happening in dance in China."

Artistic Director of The Hong Kong Ballet, Madeleine Onne, comments: "The company's 2012 visit to the Pillow was such an enjoyable experience, and our dancers really benefitted from the opportunity to dance overseas for a new audience. The dancers always develop artistically from touring, and while it's wonderful to perform abroad, I am also proud to show off our increased excellence when we get home."

A profound, dramatic work, A Room of Her Own tells the story of a writer navigating a marriage to her choreographer husband, and her jealousy over his friendship with a colleague. Danced to Edward Elgar's poignant "Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85", A Room of Her Own was created for The Hong Kong Ballet by Fei Bo in 2011 and a selected trio from the ballet offers a thoughtful beginning to this program of elegant works.

Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato's Castrati, performed by nine men of the company, is a powerful work evoking both tragedy and passion. When The Hong Kong Ballet first performed this work in 2012, Natasha Rogai of the South China Morning Post wrote that Castrati "was carried off triumphantly. The company's men have always shone...they danced with extraordinary speed, power and intensity." Duato's work reflects on the sacrifices made in the name of beauty and art. Pillow audiences may be familiar with Castrati, which was performed at the Festival in 2008 by Stockholm 59° North.

In Light and Shadow was created in 2000 by Krzysztof Pastor, resident choreographer of the Dutch National Ballet. Pastor drew on influences ranging from Baroque dances to paintings by Dutch masters Vermeer and Rembrandt to create a visually arresting suite of interweaving solos, duets, and ensemble work. Praised by The Herald as "a dazzling array of witty inventions," In Light and Shadow begins with a contemplative, intimate duet and unfolds into celebratory, virtuosic movement for a large cast, flooding the stage with energy and technical exactitude.

The forty-member Hong Kong Ballet boasts an international roster of exquisitely trained classical ballet dancers and a repertory including a range of classical and neoclassical works by George Balanchine, Rudi van Dantzig, Stanton Welch, Jorma Elo, and other noted choreographers of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Established in 1997, the company continues to grow in scope, making its Jacob's Pillow debut during its first North American tour in 2012. Artistic Director Madeleine Onne, formerly the Artistic Director of the Royal Swedish Ballet, is also the founder of Stockholm 59? North, which made its debut at the Pillow in 1997 and returned in 2000, 2005, and 2008, quickly becoming an audience favorite. Onne will serve on faculty for the Ballet Program of The School at Jacob's Pillow during Hong Kong Ballet's week in the Ted Shawn Theatre and three members of the company will perform as part of the Season Opening Gala on June 14.

On Sunday, June 22 The Hong Kong Ballet's company class will be open for public observation; in the Ted Shawn Theatre, 11:45am-12:45pm.