There’s this very nice part of the SDT website, which I do recommend – the interviews with the dancers. I think it’s a great education for people who want to become professional dancers, and of interest to those of us who will never get that chance but are curious to know what it’s like. It’s also, I think, a get-to-know-our-dancers kind of section, to put a human voice to the dancers who perform so frequently for us.
This post has been a couple of months in the making (meaning, I got busy) and then they had a new set of 2015 interviews with Rosa Park and Uchida Chihiro (after the bunch for the new First Artists)! And then they introduced a new set of interviews for Chen Peng and Nakamura Kenya! And you can still read the 2014 interviews with all the dancers too. Glad to see in Chen Peng’s interview that he should be okay by December.
Children notice dancers too, and you can hear them in the rooms and hallways – do you know … Chihiro is my hero! – oh, Chen Peng is not here today, he hasn’t healed 😦 – Emma Hanley Jones is performing, we will see her (to which the mother replied, dejectedly, “But we always spot the wrong one”) – and who can forget the teenagers’ sighs over Timothy Coleman’s Mercutio and screams of outrage when he was stabbed (though that bothered us a bit back then)…
Of course, you’ll have the boy whose father knows more about Sleeping Beauty than many do, and he and his wife exchange glances over the head of their deeply bored teenaged son, who (when he’s not nodding himself to sleep) obviously feels that a night at the ballet is not his idea of fun (as I am sadly unable to appreciate some other art forms, I do get it, but oh dear); and who turns around (disbelievingly?) when the person seated behind his mother cries audibly at the end of Act I.
It’s always interesting to hear what other people have to say. That includes friends, who remember Tanaka Nanase from a previous performance; who ask who that person is with the sturdy form (Stefaan Morrow) or graceful style (Lisha Chin) or, simply put, good dancing (Kwok Min Yi); who notice how Chihiro always is in the right position at the right note; who comment that Tchaikovsky’s music is phrased for dancing.
Sometimes, in the interests of snipping the posts, I don’t put in all the little things that I might want to say. That includes some of the observations about the group dancers. But we see them, too. It is always nice to see familiar faces, actually.
Without everyone dancing in such awesome synchrony and with such ease, the whole performance would never be complete. Like Yatsushiro Marina, whose steady, reliably good dancing and form we like watching, and who has appeared in many smaller sets in classical ballet (6 wedding guests for Kitri, Aurora’s 8 friends, Coppelia’s 6 friends, the fiendishly difficult Theme and Variations) or neoclassical ballet (Shostakovich). Or Ruth Austin, turning her arms and hands gracefully in the garland girl dance (there’s this move I like, where the girls bend a little further with each beat, their hands turning in and out); or Alice Lin Cao’s clear form as a Dryad, which sticks in the mind; or Ma Ni, who stood out even as an apprentice (and is now a full-time SDT dancer); or Xu Lei Ting shining as a Dryad (light arms and tiptoes) even towards the back of the row. On that note, we’ve not seen Xu Lei Ting of late in Sleeping Beauty et cetera, so we hope to see her again!
I realised that somehow, for Don Q, there was no mention of Mai Suzuki, then a new addition to SDT, and her light, pretty pas de chat (step of the cat, seen here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAsMB3eRe6g) as she took the centre role in one of the village dances in Don Q. And there’s a fairly new entrant to SDT, Ines Furuhashi-Huber, a bright centre spot in the opening of the Garland Waltz (Sleeping Beauty).
We do see and recognise by name, those who are dancing before us: Peter Allen as one of the village men in DonQ, doing a jumping spin off the side of the stage; Shan Del Vecchio as a stately man of court in Sleeping Beauty (“there was this very good dancer in [Ballet Under the Stars]”); the tallest dancer, Chen Ruifeng, as a Toreador and as one of the garland men with confident lines; Reece Hudson with nifty neat moves as another of the garland men; Lewis Gardner, always turning in a strong showing imbued with his own character and graceful style; and even Lu Ye – who joined SDT briefly and appeared in Sleeping Beauty – a compact and light dancer whom we’d have liked to see more of (or, “of whom we’d have liked to see more”, except I always feel an odd gasp after that sentence, as if there’s something missing after building up anticipation to a fun and funky preposition :p).
Here and there in the other reviews, I would have mentioned the other dancers whom I haven’t mentioned above. The dancing is good – it feels strange picking names, so I thought to mention those I may not have mentioned before. Hope I’ve not missed anyone. And you can read their interviews above, slowly.