Esplanade Theatre, Singapore; March 13, 2015
Joy Wang X. Y.
For a ballerina Aurora is, perhaps, the severest of tests. From this icon of classical ballet, “Sleeping Beauty” demands impeccable style and technique. The austerity of its form also means that a dancer’s knowledge of the contrapposto dynamics of movement is vital. And if Aurora Is to convince as something other than a symbol then the ballerina must be able to extend the general eloquence of its classical statement into a coherent dramatic interpretation.
It is a lot to ask, but in Rosa Park, a petite dancer of immaculate style, the company has a fine Aurora. Watching her dance we see not just every individual step, though that that too is exquisite (the silk spun delivery of her petit batterie, the lustrous calm of her upper body work…), but the shape of its phrase; the way movement is carried in one sweeping unbroken breathe. She seems to know what steps to give weight to, what phrases to emphasize, what moments to extend such that the effect is both coherent and surprising.
In Aurora’s Act 1 variation, Park shows Aurora’s transformation with each succeeding rond de jambe into retiré culminating in a sensually held arabesque. As each one expands in radius, that inward-outward circular motion is so controlled so clear, you feel Aurora moving inexorably towards womanhood. Her vision scene also had a relaxed femininity, something missed in her previous attempts at the role. The ballet ends with the transferring of power and Aurora’s coronation. Parks, resplendent in the Act 3 variation, shows us with teasing balances and regal grace that final flowering of womanhood.
This was not Park’s first Aurora (it is SDT’s third revival) and though there were moments when I longed for more expensive ease (particularly in the vision scene) this was, for me, her most complete rendition yet. She has always been a quality ballerina. But for me it is the small increments of detail, the illumining of nuances that is the sign of a mature artist.
The gallant Kenya Nakamura, a last-minute replacement for an injured Chen Peng, partnered her to the best of his abilities and danced with technical ease.
Impressive too was the Singapore Dance Theatre corps de ballet. The dancers, especially the female corps, moved organically as one and looked fresh and alive. A few of the company’s young prologue fairies also demonstrated a rare understanding of classical style.
The rest of the supporting cast was a little more uneven. Some dancers had a nice articulation in the lower body but strange port de bras. Others were pallid in the face of technical odds. Among the featured dancers there were important debuts and debuts, understandably, can be a nerve-wrecking experience. And that is fine as long as they, like Aurora, continue growing.
I look forward to watching the company dance in June in “Ballet Under the Stars” on Fort Canning Green. For details visit www.singaporedancetheatre.com.