SINGAPORE - Singapore Dance Theatre's (SDT) annual Ballet Under The Stars performance begins this weekend, and for the first time, audiences can catch two different programmes instead of the usual one.
The 18th edition of the outdoor performance, which will be held at Fort Canning Green, will feature a contemporary dance showcase from Friday to Sunday and iconic classical ballet Giselle next weekend.
Janek Schergen, artistic director of the company, says: "What the company has done before is to try to mix things - something classical and something contemporary, something old and something new - so there will be something for everyone.
"So this is actually a bit of a test, in the sense that we will first be doing a contemporary showcase and then Giselle."
The first weekend will feature a collaboration with Australia's Expressions Dance Company, which is headed by artistic director Natalie Weir.
Twenty dancers - six from the Brisbane-based company and 14 from Singapore's flagship dance company - will premiere Weir's 4Seasons, which is set to Vivaldi's concertos of the same name.
The 25-minute piece is the first that the 46-year-old has choreographed for the SDT, although the company performed her works in 2003 and last year.
She says of her piece: "The music is very inspiring and it was written to depict the differences between the seasons.
"I've used this idea to represent the different kinds of storms that relationships go through. It's quite an intimate work, with four duets, one depicting each season."
She created the piece over eight days earlier this month, and says that her choreography is a collaborative process with the dancers.
"I don't tell them what to do but I draw movement from their bodies. I might say, 'What happens if you lift her here?' and see what they give me," says Weir.
"So it fits them, it fits the bodies that it's been made on and they own it. So when they are performing, it's movements which are natural for them."
She also notes a difference between the classically trained dancers of the SDT and the contemporary ones of her own company.
"The ballet dancers have very stunning classic technique. They're very light on their feet, they're very agile and flexible. The contemporary dancers are very grounded, and earthy, and they move much bigger."
Three other pieces to be performed this weekend are Absence Of Story by Japanese choreographer Toru Shimazaki; another of Weir's works, Carmen Suite; and Fives by the late local dance doyen Goh Choo San - the first time in more than a decade that the ballet will be performed in its entirety.
Over the second weekend, the company will be putting on a revival of Giselle. It first performed the production in 1999 and this will be its fifth full-length performance.
Schergen, 61, says that they chose to revive Giselle because of its significance to the company: "There are three full-length ballets which we chose for this year, it being the 25th anniversary year, and all are significant milestones for the company.
"The Nutcracker was the first full-length production the company ever did, Coppelia was the next one and Giselle was the third."
The production, which was first presented in Paris in 1841, tells the story of a young village maiden and her doomed relationship with her nobleman lover. The company performed it in 2008 at Fort Canning as well.
For those who caught that performance, this one will be more than familiar.
Schergen says: "Giselle is Giselle, you don't toy with that too much because a lot of the scenery is plot-driven, so it's about the same. And the costumes were created for the original production in 1999, and they've been used several times since."
BALLET UNDER THE STARS
Where: Fort Canning Green
When: Friday to Sunday, 7.30pm (An Evening Of Contemporary Dance); July 26 to 28, 7.30pm (Giselle)
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