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Interview: Nazer Salgado, Maughan Jemesen and Luis Piva of SDT’s Coppelia

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Singapore Dance Theatre will be opening its 25th Silver Anniversary season with the charming full-length classical ballet, Coppélia – the girl with enamel eyes. This light-hearted ballet is based on the book by Charles Nuitter, after E.T.A. Hoffman’s “Der Sandmann” which tells the humorous tale of love and mistaken identity.

 

 

Three dancers from Coppélia answer some questions for us about their love for dance.

 

 

Nazer Salgado

When and how did you start dancing?

The Ballet Manila School was conducting auditions when I was encouraged by a friend to give it a try. At the age of 16, without any idea of what dancing ballet was like, I was accepted as a full scholar because they believed my body proportion was suitable for ballet.

How did you come to be in Singapore and at the Singapore Dance Theatre?

In 2011, SDT and Ballet Manila did a collaboration for Ballet Under the Stars. Two weeks later, SDT came to Manila to perform alongside Ballet Manila for Masterpiece in Motion. SDT caught my attention because of their power and passion as performing artists. I auditioned and was accepted to join the company by SDT’s Mr. Schergen. With the blessing of Ballet Manila’s artistic director, Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, I moved to Singapore to pursue a career with SDT.

How has it been rehearsing for Coppélia?

This is my first time performing in Coppélia and I am thrilled to be part of it. I have been rehearsing the corps and understudying main lead Franz as well. I am very excited to experience this captivating ballet!

Can you tell us what to expect in SDT’s Coppélia?

SDT’s Coppélia is arranged so eloquently, you will definitely be able to immerse yourself in the story. Mr. Schergen is very particular with conveying emotions and storytelling, I’m pretty sure the audience will not only see, but feel what the characters are feeling too.

What attracted you to this role/piece?

I love this ballet because it’s so happy and full of life. Each of the characters have their own mood and colour which makes this story more interesting and vivid.

Have there been any differences between dancing in Singapore/SDT and dancing in your hometown?

There isn’t that much difference between Ballet Manila and SDT. The love and passion are both there. The striving for perfection and the genuine concern for a great show is there too.

 

 

Maughan Jemesen

When and how did you start dancing?

I started ballet when I was six because my older sister was taking lessons so I wanted to join in.

How did you come to be in Singapore and at the Singapore Dance Theatre?

I auditioned in October and was lucky enough to be offered a contract to join the company for their 2013 season. I have been very interested in auditioning for Singapore Dance Theatre because of its great reputation and repertoire.

How has it been rehearsing for Coppélia?

Rehearsing for Coppélia has been hard work and a lot of fun. We have already learnt the majority of the ballet in only a few weeks. It has been great working with the company and getting to know everyone.

Can you tell us what to expect from SDT’s Coppélia?

Coppélia is a very light-hearted and entertaining ballet. The choreography is very technical and beautiful and suits the ballet very well. The story of Coppélia is relatable to people of all ages so everyone can enjoy it.

What attracted you to this role/piece?

Coppélia has always been one of my favourite ballets to watch and to dance. All the characters are a little bit quirky and you can make your character your own. It’s a really excellent ballet to perform.

Have there been any differences between dancing in Singapore/SDT and dancing in your hometown?

So far I have really been enjoying my time working with Singapore Dance Theatre. The company has many great attributes. One of the most noticeable for me is the friendly atmosphere and the respect the Company has for each other and the art form. 

 

 

Luis Piva

When and how did you start dancing?

I started dancing at the age of five in Brazil in a small city of São Paulo. Since I was a child, I danced a lot with every kind of music and I have a cousin – she danced ballet and taught me some steps and every day I was dancing those steps. So then my mom put me in a small ballet school (Girassol). Thereafter, I went to Paulo Matulevicius ballet academy, and then I moved the city to Rio de Janeiro to study ballet at Petite Danse Ballet School.

How did you come to be in Singapore and at the Singapore Dance Theatre?

I was studying at New Zealand School of Dance when Janek came to take classes and also rehearsed me for a competition. Janek offered me a contract thereafter and I accepted it and came to be with the Singapore Dance Theatre.

How has it been rehearsing for Coppélia?

Rehearsing Coppélia has been fun. Although it can be tiring, I enjoy it a lot. Coppélia is a comedy ballet with lots of energy and jumps.

Can you tell us what to expect from SDT’s Coppélia?

I expect it will be a really good performance with both character and classical dancing. Together these two forms of dancing are different yet beautiful. The audience will really enjoy it and laugh a lot because Swanilda is rather mischievous and Doctor Coppélius quite an eccentric man.

What attracted you to this role/piece?

It’s the energy of this ballet and the history behind it. It’s a comedy ballet which is romantic and very enjoyable and fun to dance, work with and to watch.

Have there been any differences between dancing in Singapore/SDT and dancing in your hometown?

In my hometown we don’t have many ballet companies, so I’m really happy being here. I have danced a lot in Brazil, Cuba with Laura Alonso Ballet Company and Royal New Zealand ballet in New Zealand. Overall, I’ve had very good experiences dancing on stage.

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About Sharmila Melissa Yogalingam

Ex-professor, Ex-phd student, current freelance critic, writer and filmmaker.