Predictions for 2017 – Singapore Dance Theatre

I’ve started thinking about this. At the start of the year, I wondered why I couldn’t pull up this list out of the sky, and now I know why. Because it’s only sometime around now that you can start to imagine what we haven’t seen for a while, and what should arise again; or assessing what can or cannot be sent out into the snow.

Full-length classical

At first I thought they might do Romeo and Juliet, and La Bayadere, though that’s rather heavy stuff. I figured they wouldn’t do Romeo and Juliet and Coppelia in the same year, ala 2013, because…that looks just like 2013. Giselle also has not been taken out of the cupboard for years, so there’s another question mark.

After hearing pieces of news here and there, I’m beginning to think La Bayadere may be a tad ambitious, given the scale. Or perhaps it isn’t, precisely because Juliet and Giselle are very specific types of heroines (heartbreak damsels with really weird–in a good way–love interests) and I’m not aware if La Bayadere has the same sort of requirements. However (alas), La B is a bit costly, and Paquita has just been given a wonderful new coat of expensive but very well-deserved and gorgeous paint.

We know for sure that Don Q and Swan Lake are out of the running (the latter because, amongst other reasons, Mr Janek Schergen says so). There was a Swan Lake in 2009, and the next one was only in 2012.

Here are my guesses.

1. Coppelia. I think they may open the year with something light. But this is a question mark because this year is ending with something light (the Nutcracker). Coppelia is not going to be a money-spinner, and it’s not a strong enough piece with which to open the year. So okay, this will close the year.

2. Sleeping Beauty. Surprisingly, I think that they may want to put this heavyweight in. Chances of it appearing are kind of 50-50. It’s not implausible or impossible, to be very honest. SDT has the all-around cast for it, and the costumes and sets are unbelievably gorgeous.

3. Giselle. There’s still a chance that it will come in. It’s a really heavy-on-emotions piece (mad scene! ghosts of wronged women! antagonist male lead!), and doesn’t give the audience a happily-ever-after sort of feeling. But it’s doable. Because it’s not a new piece, it’s quite famous and the storyline skitters along fast enough, the audience won’t get indigestion (unlike e.g. from Le Corsaire, which is a very intricate piece of work).

I have re-considered whether they will put in something new. Following the general pattern, SDT has introduced heavy classical pieces in waves — mid-2000s for Swan Lake, 2010 for Sleeping Beauty, 2014 for Don Q, and ah, this means they have one more year, and they will want to use that one year to build a base for a new piece in 2018, which is the nth year of SDT. And then in 2019 or 2020, depending, Swan Lake may return, and/or Don Quixote. We really have to hold our breaths.


Classical short pieces

1. Paquita. This is a no-brainer. Lavish new costuming that makes the audience’s mouths water, and a male lead who leaps into the air with his legs extended luxuriously.

2. Something(s) from Balanchine. Concerto Barocco , Divertimento No. 15 or something new. We didn’t manage to hold out for Four Temperaments this year (for a likely variety of reasons, and anyway, it’s a non-classical piece). Concerto Barocco is a stunning gem of a piece, cleanly-cut lines and sharp facets, and a winning violin duet with a skilled, dependable male lead. While my vote is in Concerto’s basket on account of its gem-like qualities, I suspect Divertimento or such will be chosen because (amongst other reasons) it’s not been seen in Singapore for quite a few years. Serenade is another possibility, but I think it takes time–we seem to let it rest a little between years, and I suppose it would be a nice touch if we let it run in 2018 (the 30th year of SDT), as it is a magical feat and Goh Choo San was fond of it. Oh, how about Allegro Brilliante? Okay, I am cheating because I am just naming things left and right to hedge my bets. I’ll sink for Allegro Brilliante, because (superficially) it isn’t as Paquita-like as Divertimento. The costumes are different, for one.

3. Theme and Variations, by George Balanchine. Maybe a Masterpiece in Motion performance. This is a question mark, but I believe it is entirely possible, and it is a wonderful dance. Scratch my comments in (2) above – I think (3) will make a return. Or both. Nobody says you can’t do 2 Balanchines in one evening.

4. Giselle? I think that if we shift one of the 3 from above to this (though Giselle isn’t exactly “short”), we will fill up this segment.

5. Midnight Waltzes — perhaps. If the costumes weren’t so unsuited to Singapore’s weather, it would for make a lovely BUTS performance.


Neo-classical/contemporary short pieces

Unlike the pieces above, I have a wish list.

What I wish I could see again (and again, and again)

1. Bittersweet, by Natalie Weir. Yes, of course we need to see this again. 2014 to 2017 seems a rather long wait. We were all very patient. Time has passed and people will come and go. I am highly aware that I was immensely fortunate to catch the 2 original versions (Timothy Coleman and Rosa Park; Chen Peng and Uchida Chihiro), which were the last word in stunning and absolute ridiculous trust in your male partner. We shall not pass this way again 😦

2. Opus 25. I know there’s a chance to catch it soon. I’m in two minds — it’s on a Sunday night. But I expect it may be the last chance to catch it for the longest time, and the last chance in this form.

3. Chant, by Val Caniparolli.

4. Organ Concerto, by Nils Christe. But as mentioned last year, we very rarely repeat Nils Christe works. Years go by before the same piece is repeated. The company seems very fond of Nils Christe, and I suspect it could simply be the timing issue (he may wish to be present at the sessions and performances).

5. The Winds of Zephyrus, because, like any Edwaard Liang work, it is a well-organised frenzied work of genius. 

6. ZIN! Most of the original cast probably won’t be in it, but it is one of the most creative and crazy pieces I’ve ever seen. I think it will probably be a BUTS piece, because of its nature. Separately, the whistles are really loud. I can’t imagine what it’s like for the dancers.

7. Double Contrasts. I totally wouldn’t mind seeing this again.


What I think we will see

1. Chant. We always have one Val Caniparolli a year, for good reason – he has a masterful way of working with the music, and his choreography is iconic and immediately recognisable. This piece never grows old.

1. Incomparable Beauty by Ma Cong. For sure, we will see this again. Shadow’s Edge is a galloping success. Incomparable Beauty is new, and I think it should be shown again while its edges are still shiny. It probably needs a Masterpiece in Motion staging. It would be awesome, but highly unlikely, to have both of them back again.

2. Winds of Zephyrus or something else by Edwaard Liang, such as As Above, So Below, which I have never seen anything of. I’m curious about it. I love Winds, for nostalgic reasons. But I’ll survive another year without it – the sentimental heart, after all, can only take so much. No, wait, the sentimental heart says it is okay to stage it again.

3. Absence of Story by Shimazaki Toru. His are pretty, delicate, emotional works. I’ve seen snippets of Absence, and it is superb — it stirs the heart-strings. Blue Snow is great, but I think we’ve tried it out on a large variety of stages already.

4. Rubies or some other neo-classical work by Balanchine. We do need Balanchines in a year. But this may be erased in favour of the classicals above.

5. Double Contrasts, because I think SDT likes to remind (and we like to be reminded) of Goh Choo San’s legacy. And because it’s not been seen for a while since before last year, it would be nice to see it again.

6. Jabula or Something new by Natalie Weir. We won’t have Bittersweet — it’s bittersweet knowing this. No, it’s just bitter 😦 We can’t have 4Seasons again, I think, so soon. EDIT: Jabula is showing this year, hurray!

7. A new piece or two (depending on cost). A lot of the works above are works seen in recent years, so we may not have (4) or (5), or even (6). I’m not very sure, right now.


Looking at the above, I am reminded (as always) of how little I’ve seen of the past repertoire and how much more I’d like to see. I left out things like Maninyas by Stanton Welch and Xing Liang’s works because we don’t seem to see them in heavy rotation, so nobody knows.




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