Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was choreographed by Mr Goh Choo San, one of Singapore’s most prolific ballet dancers and an internationally acclaimed ballet choreographer. He was also a recipient of numerous awards including Singapore’s Highest Arts Award, Cultural Medallion Award, for his ballet works.
His premature death at the age of 39 left a vacuum and no one had been able to fill the creative void which he had left. The production of his ballet works is currently being supervised by his long-time dance master and the artistic director of Goh Choo San and H Robert Magee, Janek Schergen. Up to date, the Singapore Dance Theatre (SDT) has acquired 11 of his choreographed ballet works.
Romeo and Juliet has been re-staged twice in 3 years by SDT showing that Romeo and Juliet is a ballet performance that cannot be kept long out of the repertory by international dance companies and SDT is following suit.
Romeo and Juliet, arguably Shakespeare’s most famous play, began with a Prologue explaining the feud between the Capulets and the Montagues. The ballet performance, re-staged successfully by Janek Schergen, told the story of “two star-crossed lovers”, which was propelled by the exceptional ballet performance by SDT dancers. The ballet performance brought out the shine and glimmer in Mr Goh Choo San’s choreography. It also embodied the violent delights of young love and the pitiful sight of its untimely end.
Chihiro Uchida, SDT’s senior artist, portrayed the character of Juliet very well. She was swift, light and executed polished ballet moves. She took high risks in the giddy, swooning steps in her duets with Romeo played by Kenya Nakamura. Uchida, without any fear, swept right off balance and trusting her Romeo, Nakamura, to catch her. Despite this display of glistening moves by Uchida, there was lack of passion and affection in the duets between herself and Nakamura. However, Uchida was able to draw the audiences’ attention to her performance with her excellent display of ballet moves and her personification of the character, Juliet.
Nakamura was less polished in the execution of his role as Romeo and it was quite disappointing to see Uchida trying to save most of the duets by making all the risky moves. Although Nakamura tried to salvage the situation during the renowned balcony scene, he failed miserably to entice the audience and reinforced my commentary of his lack of adroit technique. Fortunately, in his partnering moves with Uchida in the last few scenes, he was able to show his strength and masculinity.
Mercutio played by Timothy Coleman was just a delight to watch. He made hilarious moves and added much merriment and humour to the tragic and desperate end of a pair of star-crossed lovers. Coleman’s flawless performance of Mercutio made use of the language of dance to tell perfectly executed jokes. His bantering scenes were light, nimble and crisply danced, but he also showed his sense of honour of his friendship with Romeo which led Mercutio into his duel with swaggering Tybalt and to his undue death.
Personally, I enjoyed and relished the street scenes. The brilliant and lively performance by the supporting cast provided high entertainment value toward the whole ballet performance. The supporting roles were portrayed and executed with great character, adding light and humour to the story. The invented character of Fate, portrayed by Elaine Heng, provided insight and drew the audience to the much dreaded unfolding tragedy. The street fight scenes were performed with spontaneity, danger and realism.
Overall, SDT’s whimsical and romantic ballet performance was immensely enjoyable, extravagant and artistic, and the whole cast danced with their hearts and soul. I hope to see more of SDT’s performances of Mr Goh Choo San’s choreography works, which in recent years, had not been performed as frequently internationally.