Friday, 25 July 2008

Pinch yourself

It's true? Three weeks: I have given away my alberto rinaldi suit, moved to the far industrial reaches of this island, corrected my vision of the last 20 years, and disguised myself as a student-card carrying 18 year-old. (Disillusioning my classmates about my age is the best fun. The China posse even screamed in disbelief and seized my IC.) And best of all, DANCING every day. And talking and writing and thinking about dance not on the bus or the loo, but in my focused time.

After my first week at NAFA, my groaning ankles and back are glad to remind me that it's real. Change is good. Change is possible! I'll save my miserable moments for later. Nothing else feels like this.

my new address on Bencoolen Street.
irrelevantly, also one of the worst designed school buildings and logos ever

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

the little company that could

This contemporary triple bill was a pleasant surprise from SDT. They are perking up and saying "I can" by breaking out of the tried and tested repeat telecasts of Coppelia, Maninyas and Lambarena. Instead, they plucked some ambitious pieces from the repertory of top ballet companies of the world - ABT and Dutch company Introdans. And another neoclassical gem, which is my first introduction to the work of the Dutch National Ballet.

The company emerged luminous in A million kisses to my skin by David Dawson and Glow-stop by Jorma Elo, who is apparently the new enfant terrible of neo-classical ballet. Elo is from Finland, of all random non-ballet-powerhouse places. (A nice interview with Elo by SDT. I hope they do indeed commission a work from him!)

What was most challenging about these group pieces is that they are typically set on companies with an outstanding ballet corps. You need more than just a couple of star ballerinas for these - kisses has a cast of 9 and glow-stop of 6, equally demanding roles. SDT delivered. Leaping, exuberant trios and duos in blue flitted across a glowing white stage in kisses. The star of the night was Chihiro Uchida. She took on her solo and duets in kisses with a charming zest and an iridescent presence. Glow-stop was a mysterious aviary in sensuous red, revealed in a series of cold spot lights. Elo's choreography was a joy, echoing the snap-bang of Ratmansky's Middle Duet, and the playful freedom of a boxful of wind-up toys.

SDT did a great job in this show. But at times the rough edges showed. Certain sections looked a little under rehearsed, and at moments some dancers struggled to keep up with the athletic choreography. The heavy and contemplative Evening by Graham Lustig piece proved too challenging; the lifts were stilted and the dancers just couldn't seem to drum up the required dramatic lyricism. The poet's collapse at the end of the piece appeared to be one of boredom.

Okay, who are we kidding. This isn't ABT. But they're ambitious and I think it will take them far. I was proud that evening to be able to say that this is our national ballet company.

-Continuum by Singapore Dance Theatre on 13 June 2008, The Esplanade Theatre