We are glad to have a conversation with the team of Hong Kong Ballet, including Septime Webre, Artistic Director, Dr. Melody Fung, Wellness Counsellor and former dancer, and Eleanor Ngan Kee, Physiotherapist, to join us and talk about the rise and fall of ballet dancers - How professional ballet dancers rely on their bodies for their career? How unexpected events like serious injuries can be overcome and used to reinvent their career? In one word, "Resilience".
Septime Webre is an internationally recognised ballet director, choreographer, educator and advocate. He joined Hong Kong Ballet as its Artistic Director in July 2017 after 17 years as Artistic Director of The Washington Ballet in Washington DC, US from 1999-2016. Previously he served as Artistic Director of the American Repertory Ballet, based in Princeton, New Jersey, US from 1993-1999. In addition, Webre has served as the Artistic Director of Halcyon, a Washington DC-based foundation, launching an annual international Festival for Creativity in Washington DC in June 2018.
Dr. Melody Fung is now the Wellness Counsellor at Hong Kong Ballet. She was a Research Dance Fellow in HKB in the 20/21 Season at the time of her pursual of a PhD at the University of Hong Kong titled Dancing in and out: an ethnographic study of flow in professional ballet dancers focusing on professional ballet dancers’ psychological well-being. She also performed in Hong Kong Ballet, including in Swan Lake.
Eleanor Ngan Kee (Ellie) completed her physiotherapy degree at the University of Sydney and was awarded the prestigious Sydney Scholars Award which recognizes academic excellence for undergraduate student. Ellie has previously worked in Australia focusing on performance sports athletes and now works with Hong Kong Ballet as the principal physiotherapist looking after the health and wellbeing of 45 professional ballet dancers. She focuses on a combination of manual therapy and functional rehabilitation to create strength and stability through range of motion for the dancers.
Ellie also works part time at a physiotherapy clinic, Physio-Central, treating a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions. Having represented Hong Kong in rugby such as the Asian Youth Games, Ellie understands the physical and mental demands encountered by athletes. She uses her knowledge and experience of injury management of athletes to all ages and levels of sport.
Élise had the perfect life: an ideal boyfriend and a promising ballet dancer career. Everything falls apart when she catches her boyfriend cheating on her; and then suffers an injury on stage. It seems like she might be unable to dance again. The path to physical and emotional recovery will lead her away from Paris to Brittany where new connections and the freedom of contemporary dance will open a new world to her.