Photos taken by Bernie Ng and kindly provided by SDT
The Singapore Dance Theatre (SDT) held it’s annual triple bill, Masterpiece in Motion, over the weekend of 7th-8th July. This year’s program included a staging of George Balanchine’s “The Four Temperaments“, the world premiere of Edwaard Liang’s “13th Heaven“, and lastly, Marius Petipa’s “Paquita“.
The evening started off with the company premiere of renowned choreographer, George Balanchine’s “The Four Temperaments“. This neoclassical piece was roughly based off the Greeks’ belief of how every person possesses four humors, or temperaments. Through these ‘humors’, personality types – melancholic, sanguine, phlegmatic and choleric’ – were derived.
Clad in simple practice outfits showing off their sleek silhouettes, each dancer emerged onto the stage with faces of intense concentration, intent on executing precise movements and presenting their best performance. However this seemed to work against the company’s favour as it became a mere showing of technique, and lacked emotion. The lack of emotional dance quality also served to highlight the dancers’ flaws and instability during the pas de deux and solo variations.
Having newly acquired the ballet just this year, it is not surprising that the company has much to improve on for their staging of “The Four Temperaments“.
“13th Heaven” proved to be the highlight of the evening’s program. As Edwaard Liang’s fifth work for SDT, the piece portrays the “raw emotionality of a deep longing for connection – a constant reaching to be intertwined with others, and a high power“. Featuring a large cast, the yellow-orange backdrop of the sun and the dancers’ gold costumes provided a striking impression.
Combining contemporary moves along with classical ballet, the choreography showed off the dancers’ fluidity and their ability to transcend between classical and modern styles. One could also feel the sentimentality of the performance through the intensity of emotions that radiated off the dancers, making it an especially moving piece.
Accompanied by a soaring piece of music, the choreography is physically demanding and requires a lot of stamina. Even though there was barely any time for the cast to rest, they managed to make every move look graceful and effortless.
While principal artists, Chihiro Uchida and Kenya Nakamura had chemistry going on between them, I personally preferred the duets performed by Li Jie and Nazer Salgado. Li Jie’s flexibility coupled with Nazer’s strong stature made for a beautiful partnership and was enjoyable to watch.
Marius Petipa’s “Paquita” ended off the night on a lighthearted note. Instead of the full-length ballet, SDT chose to do an adaption comprising of a series of pas de deux and solo variations. Emerging on stage with classical tutus and grand costumes, the cast made for a charming sight.
Featuring an all-female cast, with the exception of two men, everyone got a chance to shine in the spotlight and show off their skills. Akira Nakahama, in particular, was a delight to watch as she injected joy into every step, and constantly wore a bright infectious smile.
Chihiro wowed audiences during her solo variation as she performed a series of pirouettes and fouette turns (too many even for me to count), ending off with 16 continuous fouettes amidst loud applause. As expected of a principal dancer, she was technically very strong and stable, with hardly any falters in her movements. Having been an admirer of Chihiro for the last few years, it was amazing to see her live in action.
While Masterpiece in Motion may have only been a 2-day affair, the Singapore Dance Theatre still has an exciting line-up for the rest of the season. The annual “Ballet Under The Stars” will be held over two weekends during September, “Passages” in November, and “The Nutcracker” during December, perfect for the Christmas festivities.
If you’re a fellow dance lover, be sure to catch these performances!