After 17 years as artistic director at The Washington Ballet in Washington D.C., Septime Webre joined the Hong Kong Ballet as artistic director last July. Having grown up in a large, boisterous Cuban-American family, Septime is set to infuse some Latin soul into the company.
His first order of business with the Hong Kong Ballet this year? Lining up a stellar repertoire featuring the work of some of the greatest dance makers today including Christopher Wheeldon, Alexei Ratmansky and Wayne McGregor, but also some original work made for the Hong Kong Ballet which fuses the city’s special energy and culture.
The Hong Kong Ballet is also connecting with its community by redoubling their efforts with underserved children all over Hong Kong, launching a workshop series for adults and kids, and presenting free pop-up performances all over the city. Ahead of the Hong Kong Ballet Benefit on March 4, we spoke with Septime about this year’s fundraiser, the groovy Beatles theme and why ballet is an art on the rise.
What shows should people be on the lookout for this year?
2018 is a killer year for us, with an exciting contemporary program featuring the music of the Beatles in June, my new ALICE (in wonderland) this summer, the launch of our new series called Hong Kong Cool, which celebrates Hong Kong’s emerging creative class in the fall, a new staging of Giselle in the fall, and a whole lot more.
For those who are quick to dismiss ballet as an art form in decline—what do you have to say to them?
Ballet is a pliable language, just like Chinese or English. Sure, ballet can be used to express the love of a prince for a swan, the joy of a child receiving her first nutcracker toy, or the astonishment of a princess awakened by a kiss. But it can also be used in bold ways that reflect the world we live in—and we’re doing that this spring with our sprawling, multi-dimensional project featuring the music of the Beatles.