Time to update Goh's Romeo & Juliet

Time to update Goh's Romeo & Juliet
A scene from Romeo & Juliet, a ballet by Singapore Dance Theatre.

In major ballet companies worldwide, it seems that Romeo & Juliet is never kept out of the repertory for long. With a second staging in three years, Singapore Dance Theatre looks to follow suit with a version of the ballet by the late Singaporean choreographer Goh Choo San, created for the Boston Ballet in 1984.

It is a shame that his work is not performed so frequently globally anymore. Thus, does the responsibility not fall with the Singapore Dance Theatre to be a guardian of his work and to keep presenting it?

Amid the decorum and drama of Shakespearean Verona, Goh's Asian touches are still evident. It is clear he has a penchant for asymmetry as he litters balletic sequences with the occasional snaking hip, upturned wrist and curving back.

While this amalgam with the classical vocabulary is sometimes uneasy, it is surprising for the most part.

The severity of angular arms and deep backbends lend the ominous strains of the Dance Of The Knights considerable dramatic heft.

Sergei Prokofiev's majestic score is an undoubted reason for the ballet's success and Goh negotiates its twists and turns with aplomb.

The choreography grows in amplitude as the ballet careens towards its unfortunate end. The titular lovers' eyes meet and then with dance as their language, they get to know each other through modest lifts and fluttering steps. This builds to a climactic balcony scene (albeit after an untimely intermission), in which Rosa Park's Juliet is lifted high over the head of Chen Peng's Romeo, legs unfurling like their blossoming relationship.

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