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Archive for the ‘dance’ Category

The boys and I had the opportunity to catch Peter Pan, The Never Ending Story which made its Asian premiere at Resorts World Sentosa on 27 November 2014. They were so excited in the run up to the show! When we read the story, they were very tickled by Mr Croc and all his tick-tocking that they kept talking about how they couldn’t wait to see Mr Croc in the show. I was really praying that the show would feature Mr Croc, else they’d be so disappointed. And thankfully, they did! A huge Mr Croc too!

Peter Pan Cover Image

Peter Pan, The Never Ending Story, is presented by Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) in association with Belgium’s Music Hall. It tells the enchanting story of Peter Pan, a mischievous boy with the ability to fly and who refuses to grow up. One night, he visits Wendy, John, and Michael Darling in their London nursery and takes them on an unforgettable flight where the Lost Boys, Indians, mermaids and pirates await them at Neverland. While they revel in adventures beyond their wildest imaginations, the villainous Captain Hook hatches an evil scheme to capture Peter Pan – his greatest enemy. In a fight years ago, Peter had cut off Captain Hook’s hand and a crocodile ate it. It tasted so delicious that the crocodile followed Captain Hook everywhere in the hope of eating the rest of him! The story climaxes in a duel between Peter Pan and Captain Hook, with the crocodile getting his treat in the end.

Beautiful set

The nursery in London (Photo by Luk Montsaert)

Wendy with Peter Pan and the Lost Boys (Photo by Leslie Artamonow)

Wendy with Peter Pan and the Lost Boys (Photo by Leslie Artamonow)

The Indians on Neverland (Photo by Luk Montsaert)

The Indians on Neverland (Photo by Luk Montsaert)

Peter Pan and Captain Hook (Photo by Leslie Artamonow)

Peter Pan and Captain Hook (Photo by Leslie Artamonow)

The giant crocodile! (Photo from The Desert Life)

The concept for this version of Peter Pan was to use familiar, chart-topping hits to bring across the story. Songs such as “Angels” by Robbie Williams, “You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban, “Forever Young” by Alphaville, and many others, were rearranged to fit the feel and context of the story. It’s pretty well done, and for the most part you don’t feel it’s been forced into the storyline. I left the show with “One Day I’ll Fly Away” stuck in my head for days!

The downside to this concept is that if you are not very familiar with the storyline, you may have trouble understanding what is going on – because there is so much going on! There is a narrator, but no dialogue between the various characters at all. Tinkerbell takes on the role of the narrator and remains unseen for almost the entire show. As she speaks, the performers are acting, and there is dancing, and the set is changing. Basically, plenty to distract you from what Tinkerbell is saying. Children, in particular, may find it hard to follow the story if they haven’t already read the book. If you are bringing kids, I strongly recommend you read them the story first. It also didn’t quite make sense to me that Tinkerbell was the narrator as she was supposed to be locked up in a box in Peter Pan’s hideout, so how could she know what was going on elsewhere?

Tinkerbell, the narrator (Photo by Leslie Artamonow)

Tinkerbell, the narrator (Photo by Leslie Artamonow)

Still, this production is a real visual treat. Elaborate costumes, a whimsical set featuring giant books, high-flying action, acrobatic stunts, and really good dancing. I was impressed by the dancers and Martino Muller’s choreography. Unlike other musicals I’ve seen, almost every segment of this show featured a full contemporary-style dance routine. It was like a double treat for me – watching the story of Peter Pan, and watching a dance performance. I really loved how the dancers attacked their moves and were so expressive. It as a pity that the programme booklet didn’t feature the details of the dancers as I would very much have liked to read up about them.

Dancers in Peter Pan, The Never Ending Story

Dancers from Peter Pan (Photo from City & Style Magazine)

At the end of the show we were unanimous in our choice of favourite character – Captain Hook. We loved Captain Hook! Played perfectly by Wim Van Den Driesche, from the moment he appeared on stage, he was a force to be reckoned with. He sang Rossini’s Largo Al Factotum and portrayed a pompous Captain Hook that was at once melodramatic yet extremely endearing. The drama continued when Captain Hook sang Puccini’s Nessun Dorma and his crew were falling all over themselves in their adoration of him. It was hilarious! The boys left singing nonsense words pretending to be Captain Hook singing in Italian. They also spent the next few days using anything vaguely hook-like to role play as Captain Hook in their games.

Captain Hook (Photo by Luk Montsaert)

Captain Hook (Photo by Luk Montsaert)

Peter Pan, The Never Ending Story makes for a fun and entertaining family outing. The action (and Captain Hook!) will delight children – just make sure you read the story first. If I may quote Ellery as we walked out of the theatre, “It was awesome, Mummy!”

Super happy!

Happy boys on a late night outing to catch Peter Pan

Us before the show

Us before the show

Peter Pan, The Never Ending Story run at Resorts World Theatre, Resorts World Sentore, until 20 Jan 2015. Tickets are available from the SISTIC website, or through the SISTIC hotline (63485555).

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We received complementary tickets for the show. All opinions are my own.

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As part of the Dance Appreciation Series, the SDT presented an Introduction to the Ballet Classics. I have been dragging the boys to watch these short ballet talks/performances since I knew of it’s existence, and I think it’s slowly paying off. I didn’t mention to them that we were going to watch it until the day before, and when I did I wasn’t asked “why are we watching ballet” or anything else along those lines. They just went. In fact, during the show Asher often turned to me and said, “Wow! Mummy, look what he/she did!” And on the way to the car he did a few spins. Heh heh heh…

Maybe they are just resigned to the fact that Mummy is not going to stop, better just make the best of it :)

This was meant to be an introduction to the more famous ballets, so excerpts from Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, La Bayadère, and Don Quixote were featured.

As always, I can’t decide if its great that the artistic director, Janek Schergen, goes into so much detail about dance because I often learn new things, or if he should cut down on the commentary because the kids get so restless between dances.

Rosa Park was polished and put on a good show as usual. Her pas de deux with Chen Peng was riveting, and made me want to watch SDT’s Don Quixote that’s showing at the end of the year.

But it was Chihiro Uchida who really took my breath away that day. I missed SDT’s Swan Lake in 2012, but I think I would have loved to catch it. Chihiro was exquisite as Odette, giving Odette such beautiful vulnerability and grace.

The other two pairings were unfortunately much less polished. At times they seemed to struggle to stay on the beat, cutting steps before they were fully executed in order to catch up. But I think it’s good to use the Dance Appreciation Series as a way to give these dancers exposure to roles that they normally may not get a chance to do for a full-length performance. So it’s something SDT should continue to do.

Looking forward to the next round.

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Today was my ‘freedom day’!  I’m officially out of confinement.  YAY!  We went for kid’s shows and had lunch and dinner out.

The boys have been asking me repeatedly when I can go out with them again.  They’ve really been very deprived this past month.  I think they had almost no outings at all!  I’m the one who usually brings them to the park or for other types of outings.

So it’s nice that the end of confinement coincides with the June holidays.  There are lots of activities on. First up, we went for Peter and Blue’s Forest Adventure by the Singapore Dance Theatre with the Cais and Sngs.  They had planned this is before Alyssa was born and the plan was for Jon to attend with the boys.  In the end I went in with Alyssa and Jon went for a coffee.  Ah well.  I enjoy watching dance way more than he does anyway. The story opens on a sunny midsummer morning, when Peter, his dog, Blue, and his cat, Calico, venture into the enchanted forest to search of treats to surprise his mother on her birthday. The inquisitive trio meet many new friends on their adventure including the Mr and Mrs Strawberry, the Apple Blossom Girls, the trouble-making trio Thistle, Thorn, and Acorn, and the charming flowers Lilac, Rose, and Snapdragon.

I thought it was a good performance, and appreciated that there was a storytelling element so that the children would understand what they were watching.  I didn’t expect such a large cast and was happy to see that SDT really put effort into making this a good show for the kids.

Unfortunately while the boys were initially interested, they got a bit distracted as the show wore on.  Ellery in particular started looking around and under his chair (?).  I guess it would have been better if I sat next to him, but Asher was in between us (there was a mini seat scuffle, so I wasn’t going to shift them again).  Asher, who has been having a neck crick these last 2 days and is in a manja and mellow mood, leaned on me almost the whole time.  I think they started spacing out during one of the longer pas de deux between the Orchid and her boyfriend the Sunflower.  I guess their attention span for dance just isn’t that long yet.  Or at least, this theme was less exciting to them than Romeo & Juliet, which they loved because there were swords and fighting.  Such boy boys, sigh.

Anyway on a really random note, I thought it was amusing the Orchid’s boyfriend was Sunflower.  I suppose if you are a flower you don’t really have much choice of who your boyfriend/girlfriend is huh?  It just depends on who is growing next to you?

The full cast (Photo taken from SDT website)

Anyway, I’ll just keep bringing them for these things in the hope that they’ll grow to enjoy watching dance :) Am also scheming to bring Alyssa for ballet classes next time already heh heh heh.

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Photo taken from Singapore Dance Theatre website

We’ve attended  the previous instalments of the Dance Appreciation series, and this was the best by far.  The commentary was sufficiently informative without being too draggy or bogged down in detail, and the periods of dancing were longer so the kids could watch a whole excerpt without interruption.  Not only that, this production particularly appealed to the boys because there was sword fighting involved!

They were also very interested in the story, especially the ending about how Juliet pretended to die, then Romeo being heart-broken really took his own life, then Juliet upon waking and discovering Romeo’s death took her own life as well.

In fact, they were so interested they have asked me to bring them for the full-length performance!  That is music to my ears and I’m seriously considering :)

After the performance they even humoured me when I tried to show them some dance mimes.

I promise (to give you)...

I promise (to give you)…

...a muffin!

…a muffin!

"I'm Romeo eating a muffin!"

“I’m Romeo eating a muffin!”

I also thought the performance by the dancers was excellent.  At the finale, I could feel my tears start to well up seeing Juliet filled with angish at Romeo’s death.

I say, 5 star session!

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When I saw in a brochure that Frontier Danceland was offering a Creative Movement workshop for kids as part of the ACE! Festival, I was keen to sign Asher up.  I’ve danced a couple of times with Frontier Danceland and was excited to bring him into a familiar environment to expose him to dance.

Outside the studio

I think I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I sometimes dream of dancing with my boys when I’m older (maybe ballroom), or for them to sit in during one of my dance classes (when I eventually start them again *fingers crossed*) to see what Mummy is up to.  I remember as a teenager seeing other dancer’s kids sitting in their mother’s class watching what was going on.

Anyway, back to the main topic.  In the brochure the class is actually targeted at ages 5-7, 8-11, and 12-14.  But the organisers were flexible and allowed Asher to try out the 5-7 yr old class even though he’s only 3.5 yrs old.  And as it was, I think he managed well and thoroughly enjoyed the class :)  It was a parent-assisted class, meaning I had to join in the action too, which suited me fine.

Waiting for the class to start

Ms Keryn Ng was the key facilitator for the class and she had a really good connection with the children.  She engaged them on their level and was very encouraging of their efforts.  I was wondering how she had acquired this magic touch, and as it turns out, she has some experience in teaching preschool children.  No wonder!

Initially Asher was a little shy, but as he warmed up he became more vocal and participative…and unstoppably energetic!

The workshop started with a round of “Incy Wincy Spider”, but instead of the usual actions we did more full-bodied motions.  It was followed with a few more nursery rhymes to warm up the kids.

There were two activities that I particularly liked.   The first was when the kids were made to line up on one side of the room, and the adults on the other.  Keryn would give an emotion, for example, sadness or joy, and ask the kids to walk to their parents while moving in a way that expressed that emotion.  It was a challenge for the children as they mostly found it very funny and ran laughing to their parents.  We parents then tried our best to show the kids how it could be done.  I thought it was a good start to showing how we can use our bodies to express our inner state.

And the activity that I thought was fantastic was when the kids were roped in to help choreograph a short dance sequence.  Keryn asked each child for a movement and added this to the dance.  I was impressed with how she gave confidence to the children even when they shrugged their shoulders or said they didn’t know what to do, because she’d use the shrugging or whatever movement the child had done and incorporated it.  When the children saw their movement put into the sequence you could see their eyes light up :)

At the end of the event Asher was beaming, sweaty, tired, yet somehow a ball of energy.  He was so hyped up it took quite long to calm him down :)  That’s how dance is…Moving, using your body to express yourself…it’s a rush I tell you!

heeheehahahhheehaahaheee

literally ROTFL

Frontier Danceland is still holding the workshop this coming Saturday, 9 June, at the Goodman Arts Centre.  For kids 5-7, it’s from 215-3pm;  kids 8-11, it’s 315-4pm; and for kids 12-14 it’s at 415-5pm.  You can look here for more information on how to register.

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As you know, I love dance.  So even though I’ve got two boys, that’s not going to stop me from bringing them to watch dance.  Actually it’s my dream that one day Asher (or Ellery) will learn ballroom or some other partner dance with me, and dance together with me (Jon’s not too keen on dance, so it falls to the boys :) ).  I remember on a cruise with my family when I was little we had seen a young man (maybe around 18) dancing beautifully with his mother.  It was lovely to watch!

But a full length performance run the risk of being too heavy for Asher at this age, so when Esplanade offered a kid’s Nutcracker production (basically exerpts), I was very keen to bring Asher.  On the way there I told him the story of the Nutcracker and he was looking forward to seeing the mouse king.

We got into the theatre early and ended up taking a bunch of silly pics while waiting :)  I really enjoyed spending that time with him alone.

Anyway it surprised me that he really enjoyed the performance!  He sat forward throughout, and was quite riveted by the dancing.  It was also amusing hearing him ask during the pas de deux where the man went, then where the lady went.  Then, “Eh! The man is back again!”

Interestingly, he said his favourite part was when the mouse king ran away.  The mouse king actually only did a cameo, making a short appearance when the narrator was telling the story.  The actual dance of the battle between the Nutcracker and the mouse king was not shown.  I guess it’s a boy thing :)

And speaking of boy things.   The girls who attended the performance we sooo girly (this is, of course, a sweeping statement).  But really, there were soooo many girls dressed as ballerinas, as princesses, and even one as Snow White.  I don’t remember getting all geared up like that when my Mum brought me to watch dance.  And neither did I want to be!  Times have changed, and I was left with the thought that “wow, it’s hard to have a girl nowadays”.

But back to boy things.  Asher’s boy genes definitely kicked in that day.  At the end of the show Asher said he wanted to see the Sugar Plum fairy (cos he heard the announcement of the meet-and-greet).  On the way to queue he said he wanted to see her, to sit on her lap, to tell her she danced nicely and that he liked her.  Then after queueing for a while, and when we were only 10 people away, he said that actually, he wanted to go home and build a stage for the dinosaurs and ballerinas to dance!  Haha, what a combination!  But we still stayed in the queue.  Then 2 people from our turn, he said, he didn’t want to say hi to the Sugar Plum Fairy anymore and really wanted to go home and build a stage.  Of course I won’t force him to meet her, and actually I was laughing in my head at how in the end the boy genes won.  On the way to the carpark he saw the pond outside and wanted to go run around it and hop from flagstone to flagstone – very boy behaviour.  Daddy was very pleased with the report that day – “Good!” he declared :)

As for the performance itself, I didn’t think the dancing was all that great.  The Sugar Plum Fairy, in particular, was really stiff.  I felt quite uptight just watching her.  But again…as with other times I’ve criticised dancers…they can quite surely dance better than me so I should just keep quiet.  I did feel that Sylvia McCully’s production of Nutcracker back when I was in Primary 2 (and I was a berry in the Fruit Cake dance!) was a lot more inspired, and a lot more beautiful.  I shall go find the old video and try to convert it to DVD!

He gave a scrunched up smile, which led to a series of goofy pics :)

Ooooo

Puffed up cheeks

Rubbing noses

Elllhhhhh!!

 

Ouchy! He had accidentally bumped his head, so I copied him for fun and by then he was erupting in an endless stream of giggles

AAAHHHHHH

Girls all dressed up in ballerina gear

Some of the cast

Doing more 'boy' stuff like running across flagstones, etc.

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One @ The Ballet

On my birthday Shan brought me for One @ The Ballet, a series of bi-monthly talks by the Singapore Dance Theatre (SDT) on various topics related to dance.  The one we went for was ‘How To Dress A Dancer’.  We were shown which costumes were used for the dances performed by the SDT dancers (who were wearing their practice attire during the session), and there was a brief explanation on why certain costumes were chosen for each dance.

It was interesting to learn that for Allegro Brillante, it was choreographed fairly last minute and George Balanchine basically cobbled together the dance in just a few days.  The costumes were taken from the the costume wardrobe (i.e., previously used).  Reminds me of how we regularly reused costumes in our school performances :)  Amazingly the dance went on to be among his most famous.  But actually, I found it a little stilted.

The other interesting thing is that each dancer goes through more than 50 pairs of pointe shoes a year!  And with each pointe shoe costing upwards of $70 each, that’s a lot of outlay!  No wonder they need sponsors.  I remember when I was still dancing ballet regularly, $70 was a lot, a lot of money, and each pair of pointe shoes would last more than a year.  Sometimes even when they were too soft I’d still use them even though that’s a bit dangerous.

Recently I tried my pointes again… can’t do a proper pirouette in them anymore.  Actually, I was worried I might hurt myself haha.  Gone are the days?

It’s my deep desire that when the boys grow up a little more, when they need me less at night, that I can go back to taking dance classes and doing performances again.  I miss dance, I miss the stage.  There’s something about performing on stage…that magic that whisks you away from the present into a world which transcends reality.  You live in the music, in the movement.  You dance for yourself, you dance for the joy of movement, you dance for God!  When the time comes to step onto stage, you leave behind the you that is presented to the world, and become the real you.  That’s how I feel.  On stage, you can truly become yourself.  Free to move, free to be you, free to be free in the choreography…a bit of a contradiction since choreography is well…choreographed, but I think good choreography does that for you.  Note the qualification of ‘good’.

Some nights I dream that I’m dancing, and I can imagine the music and the full choreography, and the feeling is wonderful.  Unfortunately when I wake up I completely can’t visualise the choreography anymore…though I retain that sense of freedom I felt during the dream.  It’s very fulfilling.

But I’m getting stiff.  Most days I don’t even stretch.  Yes, it doesn’t take much time to just stretch a little.  But sometimes all I want to do is lie down and do nothing.  Maybe I shouldn’t be so lazy :)

Anyway, back to the talk.  It’s actually really worthwhile cos you get to see the SDT dancers perform exerpts from some of their dances.  In fact, on the day we went we got to see 2 complete dances, and and exerpt of one.  What a treat!  But are all the dancers the usual performers or the newbies?  Some of them weren’t that polished.  Or maybe it’s practice that’s why they were not quite there.  In any case, I had never known of this series of talks until Shan told me about it.  Will seriously consider going for another soon.

Back at in-law’s place.  Asher planting a garden on my cake :)

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