2004 Honorary Fellow
Helen Lai began her ballet training in Hong Kong and was a founding member of the Hong Kong Ballet for all. She worked as a dancer for local television stations and then went on to study at the London School of Contemporary Dance. After returning to Hong Kong, she worked as choreographer and assistant dance director for Rediffusion Television. Her choreography was featured at the City Hall in 1977 and 1978. She joined the City Contemporary Dance Company in 1979 and was its Artistic Director from 1985 to 1989 and is now its Resident Choreographer.
Helen Lai has choreographed for many local companies such as the Hong Kong Dance Company, the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre, the Hong Kong Ballet and DanceArt, as well as for a number of films and musical productions. Outside Hong Kong, she has choreographed for the Cloud Gate Dance Theatre and the Crossover Dance Company in Taipei, the Contempodanza and the Ballet Estudio in Mexico City, the Guangdong Modern Dance Company and the Singapore Dance Theatre.
Helen Lai’s important works include Winterreise, Exits and Entrances, Insomnia, The Rite of Spring, Invisible Cities, Loose Pages from a Woman’s Diary, In the Beginning, Plaza X, The Tragedy of Mr O, There, After … and The Comedy of K. Revolutionary Pekinese Opera (Millennium Mix) was presented in the Karmiel Dance Festival in Israel and the Festival of Cultures in Munich in 1997. Following the success of the UK debut of Nine Songs, she was invited to present the piece in Lyon Biennial Dance Festival in September 2000.
In July 2000, Helen Lai was awarded the Medal of Honour by the Hong Kong SAR Government. Other awards include Choreographer of the Year from the Hong Kong Artists’ Guild in 1990, and the Badge of Honour from the Queen of UK in 1995. She received the Hong Kong Dance Alliance Dance Awards in 1999, 2000, and 2001 respectively for her choreography of In the Beginning, Summer Solstice and Plaza X. In 2002 she was awarded the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Hong Kong Dance Alliance. In 2003, she received the Award for Arts Achievement (Dance) from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council for her contributions towards arts development in Hong Kong.