Ballet Under the Stars just had its 21st edition held over 2 weekends earlier this month. Established as Singapore’s most loved and iconic outdoor dance event at the Fort Canning Green, here’s what you need to know about this edition of Singapore Dance Theatre’s Ballet Under the Stars.
1) It’s mostly ballet, but not just that!
Run by our homegrown Singapore Dance Theatre, established in 1988, this is the 21st edition of Ballet Under the Stars. A total of 32 company dancers, comprising locals and artists from Japan, China, Taiwan, Italy, France, Australia and the US are led by Mohamed Noor Sarman as their ballet master; a talented international cast working to bring the best of dance into Singapore, and not just ballet.
2) Singapore is a stage for World Premiere performances.
Incomparable Beauty, a World Premiere performance by resident Tulsa ballet choreographer Ma Cong is his second creation for Singapore Dance theatre. Inspired by the emotive scores of Italian composer Ezio Bosso, the dance expresses four pinnacle states in our lives: purity, pangs, passions and power. In pangs, a deep repetitive cello accompaniment with long sorrowful notes on the violin directs the artist’s movements into physical embodiments of desire. This is in stark contrast to the next movement in passion, where a faster rhythm and an angular dance style is revealed. Transitions between each state are nevertheless seamlessly melded together, just like how one may experience these states as a continuum.
3) Classical ballet wasn’t always sunny and didn’t feature male dancers as equals.
Classical ballets from the great Danish choreographer August Bournonville (1805 – 1879) are not to be missed. Considered the purest form of ballet, this is what ballet dancers are built from. Bournonville wanted to do ballets that are sunny in nature, departing from his gothic predecessors which were dark and even featured death in their repertoires. A set of four divertissements from Bournonville’s ballets were weaved together including “A Folk Tale”, “La Ventana”, “Flower Festival in Genzano” and “Napoli Tarantella” for this year’s performance. Costume changes with different colors would represent the different parts and story-lines that portrayed early budding romances made it easy for new ballet enthusiasts to follow as well. His ballets also had a focus on gender equality, where male ballet dancers had technically the same roles as their counterparts, with an emphasis on jumps. You have to have a really hard heart not to enjoy this.
4) Drinking in public is not always forbidden.
Like attending a massive picnic party, guests come prepared with mountains of colorful Tupperware filled with easy bite-sized grub. One family even brought a portable mini-grill, and started grilling kebabs, in the park no less. For those who are willing to spend extra , dinner sets can be pre-ordered online, with two glasses of chardonnay included, perfect for a romantic feast. Do not forget dessert though, the entire performance is about two and an half hours, including rest intervals.
5) Dessert can come in the form of ballet.
Paquita is dessert. As the finale repertoire for this year’s performance, this Russian classical ballet features tutus, tiaras and tunics. Often included in the repertoires of world-renowned ballet companies, Paquita variations are some of ballet’s most celebrated examples of 19th-century classicism – and some of its most difficult. Full of luxurious piqué arabesque and controlled pirouettes, these must have required demanding hours of practice from our dancers who performed with such natural elegance on stage. Truly a decadent dessert that leaves you fully satisfied.
Feature image belongs to Singapore Dance Theatre