An Evening of Contempory Dance at the Fort Canning Greens – SDT

By Terry Xu

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Singapore Dance Theatre (SDT) is now holding its 18th “Ballet Under The Stars” at Fort Canning Green from 19th July to 21st July 2013. Conceived in 1995 by Singapore Dance Theatre, “Ballet Under The Stars” is SDT’s largest annual outdoor performance and one of Singapore’s favourite events.

“An Evening of Contempory Dance” is an exciting joint performance by SDT and Expressions Dance Company from Australia which features four dance pieces, “Absence of Story”, “Carmen Sweet”, “Fives” and the the world premiere of “Four Seasons”.

Now this is a dance performance you would not want to be seen attending with gown and heels or suit and polished shoes. Situated right smack in the middle of the greenery of Fort Canning, this performance venue proves to be a great place to lay back to enjoy the scent of nature, open space and to have a lovely picnic on the open grass patch. Most of the crowd come well-equipped with ground mats and picnic baskets finding a good spot quite comfortably situated right in front of the stage, popping corks out of their champagnes and dining on the food they bring along.

(Oh yes, you are advised to bring ground mats if you are going to this performance. There are no seats provided so do not bother to ask about your seat number and please bring along a poncho or umbrella, just in case it drizzles.)

Pre-show performance on Saturday was by students from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Strides Youth Dance Company, LASALLE College of the Arts, Nanyang Girls’ High School and NUS Dance Synergy.

Performances at this segment that is noteworthy is the choreography by Zaki Ahmad for the dance entitled “Ode to Gaia”. The distinctive oriental style of his works coupled with the humidity and greenery of the park gives the performance such an appropriate and pleasing feel. Not to forget the seamless weave of near perfect dance routines performed by the dancers from Strides Youth Dance Company. However, it is a pity that the dance is performed on just one day of the performance.

“More than Meets the Eye” performed Nanyang Girls’ High School might seem simple but a dance performed by more than 30 dancers that is to be synchronized at the level they managed to do is not an easy task, not to mention with the almost constant tune which they have to dance to. (It would be a nightmare if I had to count those beats for my turn during my performances in the past) and of course “Morning Light” by NUS Dance Synergy for a marvelous performance which I and the German tourist beside me find to be of pretty high standards for a student dance group to put up.

As for the main performance,

4Seasons by Natalie Weir photo credit nicolethen studio
4Seasons by Natalie Weir (photo credit Nicolethen Studio)

This “Evening of Contemporary Dance” showcases the world premiere of “Four Seasons” choreographed by Natalie Weir, Artistic Director for the Expressions Dance Company. Depicting the four seasons of a long term relationship by four duets by dancers from each company and  ending with a splendid dance arrangement of stillness and motions in mass which is magically enhanced by the play of stage lights. Though I felt that the presentation of autumn and winter might not fit the emotions of a normal relationship.

“Fives” to me focused primarily more on the dance techniques of the dancers, which was clearly good but with the rather dull routine to the average audience, one might ask if it was sound to place it at the end of a long performance.

“Carmen Sweet” performed by guest artists from Expressions Dance Company, a piece which features the iconic music piece by Bizet that everyone might associate with Tango. Fiery, sexual and “violent”, this is one dance worth to look out for. For some who did not bother to read the write up in the booklet and puzzled about the three ladies dancing like a conjoined Siamese triplet, splitting up once in a while. In this dance, the alter ego of Carmen, the female protagonist in the famous novel, “Carmen” is being dissected and portrayed by the three female artists in the dance piece, allow a closer and vivid look at what a woman, Carmen is.

“Absence of a story” which is choreographed by Toru Shimazaki, a near musically orchestrated piece of dance routines. My personal opinion, an excellent piece showcasing the best of SDT’s dancers.

For those who have not seen a ballet performance in the middle of a park, do not hesitate to experience this rare opportunity presented by the Singapore Dance Theatre. For those who have been to the performances at Fort Canning, the more you would find reasons to attend as the past performances by SDT would surely have been exceeded the expectations of many. Where else can you have a casual dinner on a grass field with your family and friends and at the same time, enjoy wonderful dance pieces by the likes of dancers from SDT and Expressions Dance Company this weekend? Make your arrangements to drop down tomorrow for the last performance of this showing at Fort Canning today!

The performance venue is open at 5.30pm to allow audiences to enter the area and pre-show performances by the various student dance groups at 6.30pm. Actual dance performance starts  at 7pm. Interested parties can either purchase the ticket online via SISTIC or they could just drop down to purchase the tickets from the ticket counter. (My advice though,  is to purchase from the ticket counter when you arrive. TOUCHWOOD, just in case if it rains heavily)

And a word of caution for would be attendees to the event, do try to arrive early to grab a good spot at the greens. Crowd coming in from the back can prove to be pretty distracting during the performance.

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Date: 19 – 21 july 2013

Time: Gates open at 5.30pm, Pre-show performances starts at 6.30pm, Main performance begins at 7.30pm

Venue: fort canning green

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Tickets: $25, $20* (*students/senior citizens/nsf)
Double weekend offer (with giselle) $40
Group booking discounts available