[Review] Ballet Under the Stars

Sticks and Stones. Photo by Bernie Ng

According to artistic director Janek Schergen, SDT’S Ballet Under the Stars is conceived as a three-course meal. Featuring a series of neoclassical works, the opening weekend is a sampler of tasteful, tantalising performances that leaves you craving more.

The entree, a powerful, quietly stunning all-male piece, Sticks and Stones, is by far the most captivating of the evening. The dance shows off, to full and remarkable effect, the strength and virility of the dancers, as well as the sheer choreographic brilliance of Kinsun Chan. To say that it might take your breath away would be an understatement – Sticks and Stones can make you forget to breathe altogether. Drawing on primal instinct and tribal motifs, but executed with the masterful, measured control of every move, Chan has found a way to create moments so striking they will stay with you for a long time.

Age of Innocence. Photo by Bernie Ng

With an appetite thoroughly whet, the audience is then invited to feast on the sumptuous main course that is Edwaard Liang’s Age of Innocence. Inspired by the novels of Jane Austen, the dance was developed around the theme of manners, courtships and rigid hierarchies, with a distinctly feminine sensibility. Lithe, refined, enthralling, it stands in sharp contrast to the desert, a rich, dark, sweeping ballet.

Organ Concerto. Photo by Bernie Ng.

The subtle, restrained exuberance of Age of Innocence gives way to the dramatic and explosive force of Organ Concerto. The grandeur of Francis Poulenc’s music and the full-black costumes underscores the gothic mood of the dance. In Schergen’s analogy, Organ Concerto would be a luscious chocolate cake, finishing off a meal with a varied and stimulating palate.

by Tracey Toh