Paris Opera Ballet comes to Singapore screens this April

SINGAPORE - In just a few months time, ballet aficionados will be able to catch three works by the world renowned Paris Opera Ballet without having to step foot outside the country.

In April, the Esplanade will be presenting dance on screen for the first time. They will be showing a trio of films from the ballet company in collaboration with Golden Village: Balanchine | Millepied, La Sylphide and Don Quixote. The Paris Opera Ballet last performed live here in 2012, when it presented Giselle.

The dance screenings will be followed by four new works in their National Theatre Live series, which made its debut here last year with 21 sold out screenings of four shows, including The Audience, which featured Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II, and two versions of Frankenstein featuring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller.

This year, theatregoers will be treated to four more works from London's National Theatre: War Horse, A Streetcar Named Desire, King Lear and Of Mice And Men .

The new season also boasts marquee names, such The X-Files' Gillian Anderson as Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire, and actor James Franco as George in the stage adaptation of John Steinbeck's novel.

Tickets for both Dance On Screen and National Theatre Live are on sale now.

Producer Faith Tan says: "Many great theatre and dance companies are now broadcasting their performances so that they can reach a wider audience around the world. We are pleased to introduce this new way of experiencing performances and hope to grow more audiences and their knowledge of the performing arts.

"Singaporeans love going to watch films and, for newbies to the arts, this can be a fun first step to encountering dance and theatre."

Taking a temporal or physical art form and turning it digital is a strategy which has been adopted by many major arts institutions.

This serves multiple purposes. It can give the performance or exhibition an extended shelf life, and the portability of digital formats means that a show can reach out to a wider audience.

In New York, film-makers have been turning visual arts exhibitions into films, highlighting the works of masters such as Henri Matisse, Vincent van Gogh and Rembrandt.

Their first film, Matisse From MoMA And Tate Modern, details Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition at London's Tate Modern. The film opened last week in 350 theatres across the United States.

Other companies which have harnessed the power of technology to extend the reach of their works include the Royal Shakespeare Company, which broadcasts performances live from their theatre in Shakespeare's birthplace of Stratford-Upon-Avon into cinemas around the world, to places such as India, Australia and Malta.

Even in Singapore, the digitisation of works has been a boon. With/Out by Loo Zihan is a performance work which ran from last Wednesday to Sunday as part of the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival. It re-presents Completely With/Out Character, a 1999 work by Paddy Chew, Singapore's first openly HIV-positive individual.

Although the performance was sold out, a live stream of it on YouTube could be accessed during the production run for theatregoers who did not manage to snap up a ticket in time.

The festival's artistic director Sean Tobin wrote on Facebook: "I know many of you are disappointed that you were unable to get tickets for Loo Zihan's With/Out", adding that the live stream is "not quite the same as the immersive experience at Centre 42, but certainly much better than missing out completely".

For more information on Dance On Screen and National Theatre Live, go to www.esplanadesingapore.com

lting@sph.com.sg