Dance review: Singapore Dance Theater back in shape in Masterpiece In Motion

Masterpiece in motion

By Singapore Dance Theater
Esplanade Theater, Sunday (Sept 26), 3 p.m.

After a long hiatus due to pandemic restrictions, the main season of the Singapore Dance Theater (SDT) is back and the company is in great shape.

This triple lineup of contemporary ballets included a demanding repertoire such as Swipe by Val Caniparoli and Jabula by Natalie Weir, as well as a rare staging of Momentum by Goh Choo San.

The 1983 Momentum has a timelessness in its sharp neoclassical lines and demanding rhythm, with a hint of Goh’s iconic Greek sculptural poses and charming flirtatious moments.

A striking sequence had couples moving across the stage, the male dancers seated and slowly receding to the floor, dragging their female partners who floated forward on spikes.

The roles turned and the dancers led their male counterparts who have now slipped, bowing forward. The sequence was shot with incredible speed.

The piece ended with rows of couples moving inside each other in perfectly synchronized elevators to Sergei Prokofiev’s impressive orchestral stunts. The polished performance was impressive, considering the piece has not been performed by SDT since 2007.

A smart programming choice has placed Momentum back to back with Swipe.

Both pieces began in a similar fashion with a group of dancers standing in a circle in a dark stage. Both were also set to music by Prokofiev.

The similarities ended at that point.

The abstract pizzicato score rose to a punchy house beat and it was shocking to realize that it was not the music of Prokofiev the elder, but of his grandson Gabriel Prokofiev.

The straight clarity of Goh’s lines has been replaced by the forceful pattern of Caniparoli’s severed arm and the jerky ripple of the spine resulting in an eerie stork gait.

Swipe’s midsection was a succession of duets, solos, and trios that seemed to go on for a bit too long. There were plenty of exciting highlights, however, with jazz and street dance accents woven into the choreography.

Adrian Tan’s new lighting design stood out, transforming the backdrop into an arch of oval windows.

In this matinee cast, Beatrice Castaneda shone in both Momentum and Swipe, performing demanding rhythmic sequences with fiery attack and witty charm. Kwok Min Yi was consistent in the lightness of her endless lines and exquisite musicality in Momentum.