An evening of mixed bill of classical work and new works by company members. This outdoor event began with a bring your-own-picnic-basket, followed by a hip hop act performed by a school of teenagers. Good effort for a first-timer performer one would say.
The main event, Singapore Dance Theatre's Ballet Under the Stars kicked off later than the published time. It was delayed for no rhyme or reasons for 20 minutes. It began with Petipa's Raymonda Act III. As stated in the given programme that the original choreographer was Marius Petipa, however, the choreography performed by the dancers were changed, and adapted. Of such, the Tarantella solo, performed by Chihiro Uchida, was changed, losing the demi character essence and quality in the use of epaulment. The stage was simply too small for the staging of this act. Dancers in the corp were struggling to avoid kicking their legs into each other's body, resulting in compromised limited dance expression.
The costumes were unflattering, and looked low-budget for a wedding act. The tutus were floppy and shapeless. Zhou Lin and Fu Liang took center stage as the main principal couple. Zhou Lin demonstrated assured technique, however, she was behind the music in most instances, and her interpretation as the leading Raymonda was a big disappointment. Her solo was technically challenged, however it lacked flavor and gusto. Fu Liang demonstrated strong and assured technique, showing off virtuosity and style. However, in general, the entire cast did not provide enough entertainment for this number. As an audience, it looked like the dancers were doing steps instead of dancing. Expressionless throughout a wedding number, that is simply unforgiveable unless clearly stated in Petipa's choregraphy.
Thierry Malandain's Dying Swan did it for me. The concept behind the piece was done beautifully. He approached Fokine's solo with a twist and modernism. He adapted 3 women, with 3 solos using the same music, but 3 different movement motifs, but still sharing the same theme and style. Natalie Clarke, Zhou Lin, and Sakura Shimizu, each dancer with different physicality, and style of moving looked splendid and priceless in their individual solos. This piece is quirky, soulful and yet meaningful.
Tan Yaling's Mozart was up next. In marking the 250th anniversary of the birth of the classical composer, Yaling created a piece where one dancer, Mohd Noor danced the title role, and 2 other couples. Mohd Noor performed his solo with confidence and ease. His movements were carefully crafted and he made the solo succelent and captivating.
Sakura Shimizu's Reflections of Dusk was a piece performed by 5 males and 1 female dancer. It was lyrical but the movement vocabulary was closely mirrored to the previous number, and the following piece, Robert Mills' Paradise Falling.
Singapore Dance Theatre is flooded with Chinese export dancers, with 1 female dancer who is native, and a couple of Australians and Japanese. It seemed apparent that the company's strength still lies in contemporary ballet works, and lack the strength and style of classical repertoires.