Ballet Under The Stars – An Interview with Singapore Ballet Artistic Director Janek Schergen | The Flying Inkpot
Ballet Under The Stars first started in 1995 and finally makes its post-pandemic return to Fort Canning Green this September. A fun, casual experience for family and friends over a luscious picnic basket (BYOPB!), it is by no means any less artistically engaging as Singapore Ballet brings 2 weekends with different programmes to charm both first-timers and dance afficionados alike.
Aileen Tang chats with Artistic Director Janek Schergen about the appeal of being mesmerised by dance while sitting under the stars (champagne optional).
The Flying Inkpot: Ballet Under the Stars finally returns to Fort Canning Green! What is the place of Ballet Under the Stars in the Singapore Ballet season?
Janek Schergen: Ballet Under the Stars began in 1995 as more of an addition to the full seasons in the theatre. Now, it is more a fully developed season with two different repertory line-ups over two weekends. All of the ballets have come from our Masterpiece in Motion or Passages seasons. (Ed: Read our Masterpiece in Motion interview with Singapore Ballet soloist Satoru Agetsuma at http://www.flyinginkpot.com/2022/07/masterpiece-in-motion-an-interview-with-satoru-agetsuma-the-flying-inkpot/)
TFI: What are some considerations when choosing works for Ballet Under the Stars? For example, what would work – and what wouldn’t work – for that setting?
JS: We cannot do ballets with large set requirements, as it is not possible to fly backdrops in or out. Some pieces also have lighting requirements that become an issue with fully presenting the ballets. Sometimes the choreographers will allow adaptations, but not always.
TFI: There are different programmes for each of the 2 weekends in September. Can you tell us a little about the theme for each and how they are different?
JS: We have found that the most classical of ballet choices are what the audiences respond to best. We combine repertoire so that each piece provides a balance in choreographic content, music, and design elements. How ballets look good together, and in the right order, is what programming is all about. Each piece needs to balance the ballets surrounding it.
TFI: Let’s get to the question on everyone’s mind! Is it uncomfortable for the dancers to be dancing outdoors in Singapore’s humid weather?
JS: It can be, but Ballet Under the Stars is something all the dancers adjust to and enjoy tremendously. The challenge can be in ballets with heavier costume requirements. Once you are dancing, you forget the heat and humidity… to a certain degree.
TFI: What would you say to convince regular Theatre audiences to give Ballet Under the Stars a try?
JS: The vibe of the audience at Ballet Under the Stars is entirely different. To share the evening’s performance with so many others, creates a feeling that is memorable and unique. What you might expect, might not be what you find.
Tickets for Ballet Under The Stars are available from SISTIC:
Ballet Under The Stars 2022
2 – 4 & 7 – 9 September 2022
Fort Canning Green
2 – 4 September
George Balanchine’s Serenade
George Balanchine’s Theme and Variations
Choo-San Goh’s In the Glow of the Night
7 – 9 September
Edwaard Liang’s Opus 25 (created for then-Singapore Dance Theatre’s 25th anniversary)
Timothy Harbour’s Linea Adora (created for then-Singapore Dance Theatre’s 30th anniversary)
Choo-San Goh’s Birds of Paradise