Dance and Design Meld for Theatrical Impact in Bolero

Hong Kong. This weekend, I went to see the world premiere performance of Bolero created by two of Hong Kong Ballet’s own talented choreographers Yuh Egami and Ricky Hu.  The haunting tempo of Maurice Ravel’s famous score has always been a favorite of mine since a requisite music class in my youth.  Needless to say, I had high hopes for this new performance.  What amazed me was that not only the choreography but also how the clever, deceptively simple set brought the music to life.
The set was a study in lines, colors and judicious use of color.  A stark white cube as a blank slate represents austerity and control.  As the dancers move,the cube opens up with rotating parts to create rooms for the story to unfold and areas of the woman protagonist’s mind.  A fold-out block, straight and narrow, suggests an examination

Picture from Hong Kong Ballet programme

Picture from Hong Kong Ballet programme

table while a series of swinging door-like panels offer glimpses of black feathered demons.  Still another side of the cube, a metal climbing frame, suggests being locked up in an asylum; with our protagonist on one side watching, a dancer in blue-green institutional garb faces off with a black feathered demon on the other.At the beginning, our protagonist holds a white feathered fan in fixed fascination and similar fans in black appear on the top of the heads of the demons plaguing her.  As the performance progresses against the backdrop of the cube, the juxtaposition of white and black implies our own internal struggle against inner demons.

This impactful design got me thinking about applications for interior design.  Multipurpose interior elements, color and light and shadow would all suit the small spaces that Hong Kong is renowned for.  Here are some initial thoughts: A climbing wall for a house pet that also functions as a room divider? A false wall with a fold-out hidden Murphy-bed like space for storage? A clean palette of shades of white to create a sensation of space interspersed with whimsical black or neutrals for contrast and interest? The list is endless…

Bolero was a performance in a mixed bill entitled Paquita, Bolero, Carnaval by the Hong Kong Ballet.  
Photo from South China Morning Post

Photo from South China Morning Post

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