Some hits and misses in Superstars Of Ballet

Dancers Isaac Hernandez and Jurgita Dronina. PHOTO: SUPERSTARS OF BALLET PRODUCTION



Grand Theatre, MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands

Last Saturday

The Superstars Of Ballet gala was a glittery affair that treated Singaporean audiences to excerpts from beloved ballets and pieces they may not otherwise have the chance to see, performed by dancers from top companies based in Paris, St Petersburg and New York. Not everyone delivered though.

Organised as part of the Voilah! French Festival, the theme of the gala had an unabashedly French focus, including showcasing the works of famed choreographers such as Marius Petipa and French-born Maurice Bejart.

Some pieces worked better than others. Don Quixote and Le Corsaire, with their pyrotechnical codas, were always going to be well-received. But an excerpt from Giselle lost its emotional heft when presented as a singular work, similarly with Roland Petit's L'Arlesienne.

But ballets are nothing without proper execution, and the wide array of styles from dancers of various companies and countries was a treat for the eyes.

The Russians moved with an ethereal weightlessness, their lines and port de bras the stuff of every ballet dancer's dream.

In comparison, the young rising stars of Tamara Rojo's English National Ballet danced with power and verve. On and offstage partners Yonah Acosta and Lauretta Summerscales were the star couple of the night.

Their interpretations of the pas de deux from Diana And Actaeon and Don Quixote were sparky, energetic performances that married big ballet tricks with technical precision.

Their English National Ballet colleague, Isaac Hernandez, a dashing young man with a striking mop of hair, was an equally competent match for the radiant Jurgita Dronina (National Ballet of Canada), effortlessly swirling her into a series of fish dives in their Sleeping Beauty pas de deux.

A highlight of the night was Berlin National Ballet's Iana Salenko and Dinu Tamazlacaru in a sparkling version of Romeo And Juliet, demonstrating how John Cranko's choreography seamlessly marries athletic lifts with the soft excitement of the young lovers.

Ballet wunderkind and social media superstar Daniil Simkin, enthusiastically received by audiences, recovered from an early stumble to showcase a slave variation from Le Corsaire that was both elegant and acrobatic, as well as a charming solo, Les Bourgeois, later in the evening.

Given the evening's French slant, what of the dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet? The signature POB lines were there, but the dancers were clinical, dispassionate and, at times, sloppy.

Laura Hacquet's leg barely came up high enough to kick the tambourine in her hand in the opening Esmeralda, sometimes missing it altogether, and Alexis Saramite was a leaden contrast to Mikhailovsky Theatre's Sabina Yapparova in La Sylphide, who not so much danced as floated on clouds.

Valentine Colasante and Yann Saiz in the aforementioned Forsythe piece were probably Paris Opera Ballet's best showing of the night.

It was surprising for a company traditionally considered unimpeachable in terms of the classics, and which brought a stunning version of Giselle to Singapore in 2012.

Paris Opera Ballet has just gone through an uncomfortable year with Benjamin Millepied, better known as actress Natalie Portman's other half, as its artistic director.

With ballet legend Aurelie Dupont now at the helm, hopefully the signature brilliance of one of the world's most revered ballet companies will make a return.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2016, with the headline Some hits and misses in Superstars Of Ballet. Subscribe