Classical ballet lovers can look forward to an exciting weekend when Singapore Dance Theatre (SDT) returns to our shores for the ninth consecutive year with its most ambitious tour of Ballet Illuminations.
After its success performing neoclassical/contemporary works at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac) last weekend, the company is all set to continue its journey with classical ballet highlights from Coppélia Act III, The Nutcracker Act II and Kitri’s Wedding from Don Quixote from March 23-25.
In addition, there will also be a special ballet for children, Peter And Blue’s Birthday Party on March 21.
SDT is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, which makes the Kuala Lumpur stop a special one.
Artistic director (AD) Janek Schergen, says: “Our biggest highlight would be the company’s development of repertoire, bringing in some of the best ballets and working with wonderful choreographers.
“The biggest challenge is finding a way to bring the company to prominence while facing significant challenges financially and artistically. We have always balanced the company with the generous support from Singapore’s National Arts Council, individual and corporate sponsors, and most importantly, our loyal audiences who come to see us regularly.”
It has been trying to bring in new audiences to classical ballet, but not for contemporary and neo-classical works.
“Audiences fear that they might not appreciate contemporary works, but that fear is quite unfounded as contemporary is basically an expansion of the vocabulary and expression of ballet,” adds the US-born Swede, who has been the company’s AD for 10 years.
SDT’s current batch of dancers – ranging from ages 19 to 33 – comprise eight Singaporeans and two Malaysians, with the rest from other countries.
He says: “The technique is as challenging today as it was 30 years ago; a pirouette or a lift is going to be as difficult as it was in 1988. But, the generation now is able to do a wider range of works, which enables them to develop greater abilities as dancers.”
As ADs will often tell you, injecting fresh creativity is always a challenging aspect of any performance. Schergen abides by a simple rule.
“I try not to fall too in love with the past, and always remember that it is about the company’s future while respecting its heritage.
“The strength of the company lies in the fine balance between classical, neo-classical, and contemporary repertoire. The dancers aren’t allowed to get overly invested in any one genre, therefore they’re equally adept in every type.
“Above and beyond that, our dancers are the strength of the company. Choreographers have commented that our dancers are driven to work to perfection, and the number of world premieres that we have shows that the choreographers are interested in working with our dancers in the creation of a brand new work, and not simply use them as vehicles for existing choreographies.”
For the coming show, Schergen promises “a bit for everyone”, so expect a treat.