Double Contrasts

The Singapore Dance Theatre (SDT) is coming back to Penang for the fifth time to present Ballet Illuminations at penangpac this month. SDT was founded back in 1988 and began with just seven dancers, but now boasts thirty-two company members plus apprentices and trainees from nine different nations. A quarter of the dancers originate from Singapore. A highly respected professional ballet company, SDT enjoys the opportunity to travel to Malaysia each year to showcase some of the most important repertoire they present in Singapore. Basically the people of Penang get to experience the highlights of SDT’s repertoire without having to travel to Singapore to do so, although there are of course limitations imposed by the stage at penangpac which is somewhat smaller than the Espanade Theatre in Singapore. 

This year, the evening begins with a masterpiece of choreography, Double Contrasts. First created for the Washington Ballet and performed in 1978, it is an elegant classical work set to Francis Poulenc’s exuberant Double Piano Concerto. Like a piano keyboard, the dancers are in two groups, one group in white depicting fiery youthful enthusiasm, the other in black reflecting a more demure, sophisticated approach. The ballet possesses many technical challenges, rapid footwork and intricate partnering with explosive moments and moments of complete harmony, and leaves the audience exhilarated.


The pas de deux from Configurations, originally created for the American Ballet Theatre in 1981 follows. It explores the relationship between two people whose paths cross unexpectedly. Set to Samuel Barber’s Concerto for Piano & Orchestra, opus 38, the choreography, like the music, flows effortlessly, and rather than telling a story, it paints a portrait of the personalities of two people attracted to each other, with delicate sensitivity and highly charged sensuality.

Next up is choreographer Val Caniparoli’s mesmerizing and experimental Triptych, which undertakes to reflect photographic images of the faces of British servicemen before, during and after their deployment to Afghanistan. The evening ends with Toru Shimazaki’s high energy and humorous Unexpected B, a playful ballet created especially for the Singapore Dance Theatre in 2017 and set to music by Beethoven.


Ballet Illuminations will be performed at penangpac, Straits Quay, on Friday 13th September at 8.30pm, Saturday the 14th September at 3pm and 8.30pm and on the 15th September at 2pm. Tickets can be purchased here or at the penangpac box office. Ticket prices are RM 25 on Friday evening, RM 38 for the Saturday and Sunday matinees, and RM 48 on Saturday evening. 

SDT will also offer a Master Class with Artistic Director Janek Schergen on Saturday, 14 September, 10am – 11.30am, at penangpac. The cost is RM 75 per person. Register with Suzanne at