Thursday, 18 September, 2014

Published July 04, 2014
Intimacy under the stars
Australian choreographer Natalie Weir celebrates stage partner work in her new piece, Bittersweet, writes CHEAH UI-HOON
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Yin and yang: Weir creates something for male and female dancers, where they each also have a small solo, showing off the dancers' exquisite line, passion and delicate styles. - PHOTO: NICOLE THEN

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AN intimate male and female duet - or pas de deux, in ballet-speak - will be one of the highlights of Singapore Dance Theatre's (SDT) Ballet Under the Stars at Fort Canning at the end of the month.

Bittersweet, by Australian Natalie Weir, will also be a world premiere as it makes its stage debut at SDT's annual park performance. "Janek (Schergen, SDT's artistic director) had asked me if I was interested in creating a duet, which is one of my favourite things to create," explains Weir, the artistic director of her own contemporary dance company, Expressions Dance Company, and who has choreographed for the Queensland Ballet (from 1994) and The Australian Ballet (from 2000).

"Firstly, I found the music for Bittersweet and the concept grew from there. I wanted to create something quite intimate and beautiful for a man and a woman - where they each also had a small solo. I really wanted to do something special to show off the dancers' exquisite line, passion and delicate movement style," she says in an email interview. The piece reflects her love of partner work - with the male and female intertwining in an organic and beautiful way. "It is quite emotional - and looks at the bittersweet moments of a relationship. It is also en pointe - which I do not get to do so often, and which I love!" she adds.

SDT's Rosa Park and Timothy Coleman will be dancing the pas de deux on the first week, and Chihiro Uchida and Chen Peng will be dancing it in the second week of Ballet Under the Stars.

Weir created it specifically with the dancers, she says, and it helps that the company had two of her previous works in their repertoire. "Now I have Jabula, 4Seasons and Bittersweet performed by SDT - so I am very familiar with the dancers. The more I get to know them, the easier it is to make a piece of work that really suits their strengths," she says, adding that she likes to work with many different companies and try and create work that suits them individually.

"I'm always very excited to return and create new work. SDT is one of my favourite companies," she declares. "I'm very inspired by the dancers - and as I get to know them better, I feel better work is created."

Bittersweet will be among the seven works presented in Ballet Under the Stars, which will return to the stage this month with two weekends of classical and contemporary ballets.

The company will perform George Balanchine's Allegro Brillante and Theme and Variations, the Asian-inspired Chant by Val Caniparoli, The Winds of Zephyrus and Opus 25 by Chinese-American choreographer Edwaard Liang, and the poignant Piano Concerto No 2, Opus 102 by Edmund Stripe. Most of these works were created specially for SDT and to showcase their strengths.

 Ballet Under the Stars will be presented at Fort Canning Green from July 18-20 and July 25-27. Gates open from 6pm for picnickers, and the performances start from 7.30pm.

Tickets from $20 are available from