Masterpiece in Motion 2016 (Part 1) — Schubert Symphony

90% of this post was written last year.

This was my favourite of the 3 MiMs I’ve seen so far. It was, in every sense of the phrase, Masterpiece in Motion.

There you go, Schubert Symphony on the cover.



1. Schubert Symphony, by Goh Choo-San

Two phrases leapt to mind when I was watching this:

Cover Girl: Easy, breezy, beautiful ™

Red Bull gives you wings (tm)

As I watched Li Jie and Nakamura Kenya, it was evident that they were essentially Cover Girl. It looked easy, gorgeous, almost effortless as they breezed through the air with superb confidence and timing. Their partnership was actually a step up from that seen in their Paquita performance a bare month before. It was fabulous.

There was an unexpected hiccough or such (there was a minor foreshadowing in one of the Paquitas as well), but they and the show whisked on ahead, wrinkle-free. I do know that they won’t always work together, for a variety of reasons. But I do savour their performances together, because there’s a life and light in them. It’s a great deal of hard work for both parties, but onstage, everything balances out very evenly. If a male partner’s role is (on occasion) to make the lady look fabulous, I must say that it works here.

And, of course, Li Jie works every single move out so that each move reminds you of what is shining and beautiful about the female solo parts of Schubert Symphony – whether with the mere lift of a hand, or when soaring through the air with such sparkling confidence.

Red Bull gives you wings ™ is what you get out of watching Kenya when he flies onto the stage in one great bounding welcoming leap, and whizzes through his solo. An odd phrase just came to mind.. that he is the man to beat…You now can see how he savours each moment onstage. There’s so much to anticipate.

I’ve watched this before, and it’s gotten better with the performances; but at the same time, I’ve watched it quite a bit, so I do get round to wondering when will this part appear or ah here is that bit where she stands en pointe on her left foot and her hands flutter towards the raised right leg. A quick side note that this should be the dance where Suzuki Mai and Yatsushiro Marina have to make their way scarily quickly across the far ends of the stage and meet in the middle. I’m always impressed by their speed. Also, Sun Hong Lei and Tony Shi Yue seem to make a very good pair — visually, of course, and there’s also a sense of ease from the lady. They’ve been partnered together in quite a few different performances.

One of the most interesting parts in the dance has the men lifting the women, while the women’s legs are diamond-shaped; or the women are on their backs in the air held high above the men’s heads while the women raise a leg up, a full extension. I think that with time, and such, this part of the dance has grown smoother. (On a separate note, I’ve always wondered when the 2 men on the far right in the first picture have to raise their arms as a sort of accent to the lifting of Li Jie. Is it at the last note? Or a beat or two after? I believe it’s a beat or two after.)


From previous performances, when Li Jie danced with Jake Burden)

Just one final note. Men. The men, leaping out at diagonals across the stage to meet one another; doing massive spins with Kenya in their lead. Every work in this season’s MiM simply reinforced this one-line message:

These are the men of Singapore Dance Theatre.

Usually, full-length classical ballets ask that the women hold the fort — swans (Swan Lake) and dryads (Don Q) spring to mind especially — and we have audiences’ eyes on principals. Look, also, at Balanchine’s Serenade and count the number of men versus women — it’s the women in their gorgeous asymmetrical skirts of alternating diaphanous beige (won’t say “flesh”) and blue panels swirling about their ankles, that are writ large all over the papers and stage.

But MiM 2016 was a splendid showcase of the men of SDT. These are SDT’s men, and they are really good (and now made even stronger with the latest additions). Impeccable timing and formidable spirit. It’s wonderful also, seeing the dancers entrusted with so much and stepping up to it.

Amongst other things, I am thinking of Shan del Vecchio and Nazer Salgado, Huo Liang and Jason Carter, in their duelling death-matches in Age of Innocence, which maybe we will eventually talk about so that we are spared when BUTS 2017 rolls round.

Actually, maybe it is fairer to say that the last piece (Symphony in Three Movements) reminded one that this is SDT. The timing, the precision, the life, the action. More on that in the distant future.










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