Big stars, including Rianto and Akram Khan, at Esplanade da:ns festival in October

The Statement by Netherlands Dans Theatre for da:ns festival.
The Statement by Netherlands Dans Theatre for da:ns festival.PHOTO: RAHI REZVANI

SINGAPORE - Up-and-coming Indonesian dancer Rianto will return to the Esplanade's da:ns festival, after his performance in an earlier edition caught the eye of renowned British choreographer Akram Khan.

This time, the 37-year-old, who goes by one name, performs in Khan's vengeful Until The Lions, as well as in his own deeply personal work Medium, in which he draws on contemporary dance, classical Javanese dance and lengger, a traditional cross-gender dance from Central Java, in which he has trained since young.

Rianto's 2015 performance in Singapore artist Choy Ka Fai's festival commission SoftMachine brought him to the attention of Khan, who was presenting Torobaka at the festival that year.

Until The Lions is inspired by the female characters in the Indian epic Mahabharata, such as the princess Amba, who is abducted by the warrior Bheeshma on her wedding day. Amba kills herself, is reborn and given male form by a forest spirit, then defeats Bheeshma on the battlefield.

The acclaimed Nederlands Dans Theatre returns too, with four pieces that range from boardroom drama to riffs on American singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley's work. The Dutch contemporary company last performed in Singapore in 2011, although its youth arm appeared in the 2015 festival.

Devotees of traditional ballet can look forward to an evening with internationally acclaimed dancers such as Svetlana Lunkina, a former star of the Bolshoi Ballet in Russia who fled to Canada in response to unspecified threats. She is now a principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada.

Singapore is represented in the line-up by T.H.E. Dance Company's Invisible Habitudes, the first full-length ticketed dance performance at the Esplanade's Outdoor Theatre. Taiwanese musician Yujun Wang will accompany the dancers live onstage in the work by T.H.E. artistic director Kuik Swee Boon.

Another multidisciplinary performance is xhe, by artists Daniel Kok of Singapore and Miho Shimizu of Japan that challenges gender and boundaries and involves a visual art installation and electronic music.

The 13th edition of the annual festival will have nine ticketed performances, more than 80 workshops and masterclasses and more than 80 free events. Tickets go on sale on Thursday (Aug 2) and the 13-day festival will run at Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay from Oct 9 to 21.