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For the first time in its 34-year history, the Hong Kong Ballet is performing a Chinese-themed ballet.

Usually known for classic productions such as The Nutcracker and Swan Lake, The Dream of the Red Chamber is a collaborative effort, with choreography by Wang Xin Peng, artistic director of Germany's Ballet Dortmund, and a musical score written by Oscar-winning composer Michael Nyman and performed by the Hong Kong Sinfonietta.

The ballet draws inspiration from the Dream of the Red Chamber, considered one of China's four great classical novels, written in the 18th Century by Cao Xueqin. The book is, at its heart, a tale of forbidden love, as well as being a commentary on life and the social structure of the times, especially among the aristocracy.

The emotionally charged production is a modern interpretation of the story. It follows the novel's plot for the first two acts, then moves to explore how these themes are relevant today. One of the most visually stunning moments comes in the first act, with the dance of the Shuixiu (water sleeve) princesses, where dancers move wearing long flowing silk sleeves that are designed to accentuate and articulate their emotions.

“It’s important to present works like this, partly because this is a brand new ballet, but also because it has such a Chinese feel,” said Madeleine Onne, artistic director of the Hong Kong Ballet.

Performance dates are 25 to 27 October and 1 to 3 November, and tickets can be purchased at all URBTIX outlets and via the Urbtix website.

Vicki Williams is the Hong Kong Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes sybariteunlimited.com.

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