[Review] Masterpiece in Motion

Paquita after Marius Petipa. Photo by Bernie Ng

Last Friday and Saturday (7-8 July) saw the return of Singapore Dance Theatre’s annual Masterpiece in Motion held at the Esplanade Theatre. This year, the programme featured a triple bill of ballet gems – the company premiere of The Four Temperaments by George Balanchine, a premiere by Edwaard Liang, and a restaging of the enthralling Paquita, choreographed by Marius Petipa.

The first act was set against a lavender backdrop, where the audience was greeted with dancers clad in black and white. The sequence alternated between pas de deux (dance duet typically involving a male and female dancer), solos, and group dances. The female corps, alongside the lead dancer, had the crowd in awe as they executed the pointe technique.

Ballerinos of The Four Temperaments put on a seemingly effortless act as they lifted, supported and balanced their partners – all while synchronising their movements with the music. One of Balanchine’s earliest work, the ballet was inspired by the four temperaments, or four humours – melancholic, sanguinic, phlegmatic and choleric.

Post intermission was Edwaard Liang’s 13th Heaven, which had the dancers illuminated in costumes with hues of orange and gold as an amber Sun rested behind them. Emotions ran high with this act as it depicted moments of solitude, helplessness and vulnerability. In contrast, the final and longest act was high-spirited and more upbeat.

Paquita after Marius Petipa. Photo by Bernie Ng

Arrayed in red glimmering tutus and white Matador-style jacket for the male lead, Paquito attempted to demonstrate the dancers’ individualities through brief solo moments. As the show built up to its closing, the audience was invigorated through the peppy choreography and beaming cast. Physically demanding and highly sophisticated, the finale was met with an outburst of applause.

The precision and harmonisation between the crew brought the spectators on a journey of emotions – awe, melancholy, bewilderment and stimulation. The performance was indeed, a masterpiece in motion.

By: Violet Koh