Singapore Dance Theatre – 2017: Season of Bliss

IT’S OUT. The 2017 Season of SDT.

Lookit the banner at the top. It’s quite a stunner. In fact, look at all the posters. They’re pretty!

1. Coppelia

Yes, the year actually opens with Coppelia! I’m thrilled. The cover picture has Nakahama Akira on it. There are private musings and there is some math behind deriving whether Coppelia will be performed in any given year.

I am fascinated. I would like, very much, to see Li Jie as the lead (Swanilda) with Nazer Salgado as Franz, because that would be new… but I am not privy to the process.

The first and last time I watched it, I was so, so, so happy. I think I might try to catch as many shows of it as possible, simply because (see About) I wanted so badly to watch it when I was a kid, that I cut out the advert for it (back then, it was performed by a visiting company) and copied the illustration (I was especially fascinated by the legs).


2. Peter and Blue’s Birthday Party


3. Masterpiece in Motion

Unbelievably, MiM is in July. Perhaps because of the placement of pieces in BUTS, which might compel them to be performed later in the year when the choreographer(s) is/are available to assist in staging it.

The Four Temperaments — hopefully this works out!

A premiere by Edwaard Liang. A company premiere, I think? Oh my goodness. I’m very excited.

Paquita. But of course! 🙂


4. BUTS – Contemporary Weekend

Sticks and Stones by Kinsun Chan. I didn’t expect this. A soundtrack essentially consisting of drumbeats, and (if memory serves me correctly) a piece that had several updates and changes in the course of creation. I’ve reviewed it before. It looks difficult — murder on the dancefloor.

Age of Innocence by Edwaard Liang

I love this. It is fabulous, and I would be so glad if it returned (bearing in mind that the list may change with time).

Organ Concerto by Nils Christe

I have never seen this. Long have I desired. You know.

But reality says: I don’t know if I will be able to attend BUTS. Life is like that 😦

5. BUTS – CLASSICAL Weekend: Wedding Festival

Coppelia’s wedding act (III), Aurora’s Wedding, Kitri’s Wedding.

This will be so sweet and so much fun.

6. Passages

Incomparable Beauty by Ma Cong. Hurray! I need to better understand this.

Triptych by Val Caniparoli — Hurray again! I can’t wait to find out what the characteristic moves for this are. There are always things to imagine in his pieces, even the cryptic moments.

World Premiere by Shimazaki Toru — Hurray for a third time. He has a very delicate touch and there isn’t that slightly more clinical sense of construction one gets from Goh Choo-San, Balanchine and Edwaard Liang. The pieces are more on the emotional side…almost like Natalie Weir’s.

Ma Cong’s are a marriage of two extremes, you know — immaculate construction, beneath which beats a wildly sentimental heart. It’s almost like MBTI (which I know some scorn, but which has its advantages): the Ts on one side, the Fs on the other, and then the in-betweens balanced out by their other letters. Then there are those that are almost definitely carried by the vision of what the music is; the body feels the music and writes it out (Val Caniparoli, Edwaard Liang, Christina Chan), the mind senses or builds a story or an emotion behind the music (Natalie Weir, Shimazaki Toru).

I’m not saying you can’t sense emotion in one set of works or analytical parsing in the other. Also, the above is just random guessing from the audience member trying to imagine how the amazing stuff poured out.

7. Nutcracker

This was unexpected. Here’s the description for Nutcracker 2016:

The quintessential Christmas classic, The Nutcracker returns this holiday season. First staged in 2011, The Nutcracker brings audiences on a journey through the pre-WWI, turn of the century Shanghai featuring favourite and familiar characters including Clara, the Snow Queen, the Sugar Plum fairy and her Cavalier. Based on a story by E.T.A Hoffman, featuring the adventures of Clara after she receives a beautifully crafted doll from Dr Drosselmeyer during a Christmastime celebratory party. With choreography and staging by SDT Artistic Director Janek Schergen, set to a vibrant score by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, with some of the world’s most iconic tunes, this enchanting ballet will feature a spectacular set and gorgeous costumes by local designer Aaron Yap, as well as characters that will dance their way into your hearts!

Here is the description for 2017’s (much longer).

Radiance merriment and a euphoric enchantment, The Nutcracker is a charming Christmas spectacular that will set your feet to dancing and fill your heart with joy! Join young Clara on her adventures as the beautifully crafted Nutcracker doll from Dr Drosselmeyer comes alive and transforms into a handsome prince. Waging a battle with the fierce Mouse King and the army of mice with grand bravura, the Prince emerges victorious with Clara’s help. She is then whisked off on a magical journey to the magnificent Land of Snow and the enchanting Kingdom of Sweets, where she meets the Snow Queen and the Sugar Plum Fairy. Based on a story by E.T.A Hoffmann, and with additional choreography and staging by Artistic Director Janek Schergen, The Nutcracker is set to some of the world’s most vibrant and iconic tunes by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. This enchanting ballet features a breath-taking costumes and spectacular sets by local designer Aaron Yap, as well as characters that will dance their way into your hearts! Start your very own annual tradition with your loved ones at one of the world’s most beloved holiday celebrations and create joyous memories to remember for years!

The poster is quite dazzling, because it’s not the traditional sort, with a snippet of a past performance. Quick analysis suggests that this is the same as this year’s Nutcracker, and this is intentional because it is Christmas season, in the way that many huge ballet companies have an annual Christmas fest (which, according to some websites, funds their expenses). Perhaps this is meant to be an annual event (like a Harry Potter, or– now–Harry Potter-related film). You do know that the 2016 version is the more traditional Ivanov-style Nutcracker (likely the sort you see from the Royal Ballet? colour me ignorant), meaning that the front half is almost all pantomime (also a British tradition?), and reams of music go by without a single dance (except here and there, the dance of the dolls and such). I do not honestly know whether Singapore is large enough that audiences will return for Nutcracker twice in a row, but I do know that kids quite love it and  I suppose it will be an educational experience for those on stage. So it could become a tradition for the kids.

There are also probably other reasons. 2018, after all, is the 30th year of SDT…

I’m a little intrigued by this. Christmas is as Christmas does. I read the message from Mr Janek Schergen, about memories of the Nutcracker in 1992, and wondered — half-wondered — if this would be a revival of the 2000s Nutcracker by Jeffrey Tan, but there is no evidence on that point. We will see.







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