Ballet Under the Stars 2016 – Contemporary Weekend (Part 3)

3. Swipe by Val Caniparoli

Oh — so there’s no exclamation mark, and I can’t spell — I’ll have to comb through the other entries with a ‘delete’ key.

03 swipe buts 2016

Either you love it or you hate it, says Mr Janek Schergen; he’s had people say how could you have staged that (with that music) and he’s had people adoring it.

And, quite definitely, some of my friends who wanted to like it simply hated it: Sorry, I was dying during the music; I like the dancing!but the music *clutches head* or just I hate the music, but I liked the part with 4 guys. It’s fingernails on the chalkboard for some folks.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved it — oddly, more so than the first time I saw it at Masterpiece in Motion; perhaps because, as someone pointed out, the lighting in Masterpiece in Motion was a little dark. Somehow, at BUTS 2016, it appeared a lot brighter. Perhaps it was the imagination, or perhaps they realized that for the folks at the back of the park to be able to see the stage, they needed to whack on the floodlights a little more. Whatever it was, it worked. We got totally sucked into it.

What’s Swipe, anyway? I always thought it referred to the great sweeping arced-arm movements in the opening scene, where a group of dancers walk in swiping their arms, pterodactyl-like —  imagine the arms as the long necks of ostriches, the hands as the flat beaks, and the dancers as the nodding heads and bodies of flamingoes out of the marshes. This opening tells you to relax and not take things too seriously; and also to gape at how the dancers know exactly which beat they should be swiping their arms and bobbing their heads to, which they accomplish without looking as if they are counting in their heads.

But purportedly, Swipe refers to the swiping off of the sleeved #uniqlonotuniqlo (?) tops seen here:

swipe costume girlswipe costume guy


The beat. The much-spoken-of music (what music, a friend would query): syncopated electronica (intravenous deejay…).

I’ve described the opening scene above (cop-out!).

After that, we get Zhao Jun and Cheah May Yen in a brilliantly efficient pas de deux: looping her deftly over and round his body in complex twisting pretzels and — one of my favourite moments — when their upper bodies are in a pseudo-waltz position with locked hands, and she’s up on one foot, the other leg at 90 degrees; and he neatly walks her through the four points of a clock, swivelling her slightly left-and-right at each point.

Entirely out of chronological order (according to the pamphlet above), let’s jump straight to an audience favourite, the 4 men-piece where the pace picks up and they do a rapid jig in a line from the back, all the way up to the front — nifty feet. Each man gets his moment — Yorozu Kensuke doing huge amazing leaps, Zhao Jun vigorously throwing all the works and energy (and kitchen sink) into his part (one of his last performances), Jason Carter in a great soaring pterodactyl leap out to meet Etienne Ferrere leaping in for his part (a quick way to segue from dancer to dancer).

Here are two seconds to paraphrase what I said in earlier posts: Jason Carter put in a strong showing and Etienne Ferrere really carried his segment very solidly.

The men do have a quiet segment. The music below plays a part in it: Jason Carter slithering across the stage; the quiet sinister?melancholic? jungle deejay with his slo-mo arms criss-crossing in front of him.

ETA: I’m not sure this is the music, really. But a close approximation of something used in Swipe. #soveryhelpful


But a personal favourite of mine is the credit-card song, starring the female trio: Maughan Jemesen, Cheah May Yen and Beatrice Castenada. There’s that nice little blurppy piece of music with the electronica sounds like a credit-card magnetic strip being whizzed through a card-reader as the dancers swagger and sashay across the stage confidently; leap into the air, arms flung back and backs arced; extend one leg before them and draw back their arms like archers’ bows. The sashaying was one of my favourite parts. It just connected with me.

The dancers in the credit-card song seem to enjoy the dance, like they’re all in on one big secret that they’re sharing with the audience; a joke that tickles our funny bones. It’s an absorbing, delightfully quirky dance, and I loved it.


I suppose I should breakneck-speed through classical the next time. We’d better finish Masterpiece before Passages plays o_o





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