Singapore Dance Theatre’s Masterpiece in Motion, an annual showcase of the finest international choreography, saw three pieces by three different dance choreographers this year. Staged from 24 to 25 August 2012, at the Esplanade Theatre, Masterpiece in Motion showcased Divertimento No. 15 by George Balanchine, Chant by Val Caniparoli, and Age of Innocence by Edwaard Liang.
The concert started with Divertimento No. 15 which was first staged in 1956. Accompanied by the music of the same name by Mozart, this piece was initially created for the New York City Ballet as an elegant and delicate piece of performance and has ultimately been recreated and restaged many times around the world.
In Masterpiece in Motion‘s version of Divertimento No. 15, five female solo dancers (Tomoko Takahashi, Chihiro Uchida, Rosa Park, Heidi Zolker, and Nanase Tanaka) and three leading male dancers (Ryo Suzuki, Etienne Ferrere, and Kenya Nakamura) were joined by a further ensemble of eight female dancers. The dancers gave us variations and duets executed in perfect technical style, although they needed to be a little more in sync with each other in the group numbers. The solo dancers did well, with each showing immense grace and expression, and the duets were nicely co-ordinated and in sync, compared to the group movements which could‘ve been better co-ordinated. With Mozart’s music offering a lively, playful vibe, this piece not only showed the technical prowess of all the dancers but also made this piece fun and emotive.
Next came Chant which was especially created for the Singapore Dance Theatre and featured 13 dancers. The music composed by Lou Harrison not only had violins and cellos that sounded like the Chinese string instrument called the erhu, but also had a thrilling Indo-Asian vibe from the Javanese gamelan. This enthralling and mesmerizing oriental-flavored music provided a splendid canvas for the dancers to mix modern footwork and dance steps along with classical ballet movements.
The set for this number was left bare and dark grey in hue, with only spotlights on certain dancers, thereby creating a scene that looked and felt almost like the dancers were in a cave ~ which was the perfect setting to air this enticing exotic number, which actually seemed to transport the audience to ancient Siam and back. Chant was breathtaking and hypnotic indeed.
The final dance piece was Age of Innocence, originally created for the Joffrey Ballet in 2008. Inspired by the novels of Jane Austen, this piece saw the dancers clad in period costumes that made you immediately feel like you‘d stepped into a dance hall in the last century. The dancers in this item included four main dancers (Rosa Park, Chihiro Uchida, Cheng Peng, and Zhao Jun) and an ensemble of 12. With music by Philip Glass and Thomas Newman, the dancers performed as a group, as well as in pairs for duets. Once again, as with the first piece, the duet items were well executed in co-ordination and dancers showed much poise and pathos; however the group segments needed a little better co-ordination amongst the dancers.
Overall, though, Masterpiece in Motion was exciting and inspiring, showing that dance is more than pirouettes and arabesques, it is also an art form that can transport your heart and soul to faraway places in another time.