Refining Sleeping Beauty

SINGAPORE - Dancer Rosa Park is once, twice, three times Sleeping Beauty.

She will be playing the classic fairy-tale character for the third time in one of Singapore Dance Theatre's productions this year, which include timeless classics from the ballet canon, contemporary pieces and neoclassical works.

Its artistic director Janek Schergen, speaking to Life! at a media preview last week, said: "We've planned very carefully to have a good mix of dances from these three major categories to keep our audiences interested for the year."

The season will lead off with a third staging of the seminal fairy-tale ballet Sleeping Beauty, about Princess Aurora who falls into a century-long slumber, set to Tchaikovsky's score. The company staged the production in 2010 and 2012.

Schergen says: "We're doing it because, well, it's Sleeping Beauty. It's one of those great ballets that are timeless, just like Swan Lake." He was referring to the full-length Tchaikovsky ballet classic that will round off the company's performance season in December.

"You can't do these ballets and expect to get them right. You have to keep doing them," he adds.

His dancers concur. Principal artist Park says of Sleeping Beauty: "This is a pure classical, textbook- like piece with very little drama, so I try to be very clean in my technique."

Fellow principal artist Chen Peng, who will perform as Prince Florimund for the third time, says: "It's such a classic that every move, every gesture should be perfect. There are always areas to improve on whenever I do it."

Dancer Elaine Heng, 26, who has been promoted to first artist and will star as the kind-hearted Lilac Fairy, says: "I'm doing a solo role now, so it's more responsibility and it does get daunting as everyone's watching you closely." She performed as a nymph in the 2012 production.

The company, which turns 27 this year, will also present five new works for the first time, in the second half of the year.

For its annual triple bill of established choreographers, Masterpiece In Motion, in August, it will tackle the energetic, tambourine-backed rhythms of Danish ballet master August Bournonville's Bournonville Divertissements and French choreographer Francois Klaus' Midnight Waltzes. TaiwaneseAmerican choreographer Edwaard Liang's Opus 25 completes the programme.

Schergen says: "Midnight Waltzes is going to be a ballet in a grand setting, like in a gold ballroom, and Bournonville is a piece of our dance heritage. It's naturalism, a dance that's optimistic and happy."

In November, its workshop and showcase of emerging choreographers, titled Passages, will include debut works by local choreographer Max Chen, Indonesian choreographer Gigi Gianti and Switzerland-based choreographer Kinsun Chan.

Schergen explains: "They're coming up with new works and that's the wonderful part, you don't know what you're going to get.

"We chose the three choreographers because all of them succeeded when they did workshop pieces with us and we liked their work."

The rest of the performance season will comprise the company's regular programmes.

There will be the yearly Ballet Under The Stars to be held at Fort Canning Green over two consecutive weekends in June. It will include contemporary and classical pieces such as George Balanchine's Serenade, a mesmerising vision of twirling ballerinas in long, flowing blue dresses.

Younger audiences can look forward to the hour-long Peter And Blue's Birthday Party to be held at the Esplanade Theatre Studio in July.

On top of its usual annual trip to Malaysia in May, the company will head to Cambodia this year as it has been invited to perform there by the Cambodian and Singaporean embassies, says Schergen.

He adds: "This year is when we get settled and do pieces from our repertoire that are our heritage. It's more introspective."

Book it


Where: Esplanade Theatre

When: March 12 to 15; Thursday and Friday, 8pm; Saturday, 1 and 8pm; Sunday, 1 and 7pm

Admission: $30, $50 and $70 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to

This article was first published on February 17, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.