Singapore Dance Theatre’s annual Masterpiece in Motion was presented at the Esplanade Theatre, on the 23rd and 24th of August 2013.
Encompassing three different pieces, the production started off with a traditional ballet performance of Theme and Variation, which was also a Company premiere. With choreography by George Balanchine and music by Tchaikovsky, this performance was vibrant and exciting, leading to a spectacular climactic finale involving all 26 dancers on stage. The main dancers, Rosa Park and Kenya Nakamura, were in top form, as their movements reflected their skilled footwork especially.
The second item was Organ Concerto, choreographed by Nils Christie to Francis Poulenc’s Organ Concerto. Labelled as a ballet with “huge scoop and sweep”, and with “dramatic bursts of movements coupled with energetic leaps and jumps”, this piece had a dark vibe to it, as the dancers incorporated a lot of ballet movements with a few modern dance steps. The set for this was designed to reflect an organ and came across as steely and cold, which suited the music and heavy ambiance of this dance. The only drawback with this item was the over-reliance on ballet movements, which meant there was too little modern dance involved.
The last dance piece was the African-inspired Lambarena set to music by Bach as well as traditional African music arranged by Pierre Akendengue and Hughes de Courson, and choreographed by Val Caniparoli. Although this piece was supposed to be a merging of the vocabularies of classical ballet and African dance, as in the Organ Concerto piece there was too much of a ballet focus. It was a shame as this piece could have incorporated more energetic and exuberant African dance footwork and body movements. However, since ballet steps and poses took more of a centre stage here and didn’t always suit the thumping pace of the African music, this piece didn’t excite as much as it could have and remained somewhat lacklustre throughout, without reaching any sort of climax.
This year’s Masterpiece in Motion, while artfully and skilfully executed by the entire Company, wasn’t as thrilling as last year’s production as there wasn’t as much integration of modern dance and/or African dance into the last two pieces as compared to last year’s dynamic performance. As such, there didn’t seem to be much distinction among the three pieces as there was last year – a pity as three different genres of dance is usually the essence of Masterpiece in Motion.