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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

Blockbuster ballet at Singapore's dance festival

Posted: 06 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Matthew Bourne's groundbreaking interpretation of Swan Lake will be the opening show of this year's da:ns Festival. 

British choreographer Matthew Bourne's groundbreaking and critically-acclaimed interpretation of the classic ballet Swan Lake will be the opening show for this year's da:ns Festival at the Esplanade in Singapore.

The show, which replaces the female swans with men, will run from Oct 9 to 12 at the Esplanade Theatre. Tickets range from S$20 (RM52) to S$120 (RM312) and are on sale now from Sistic (www.sistic.com.sg). The rest of the line-up for the popular annual festival will be announced later this year.

The ballet, which premiered at London's Sadler's Wells Theatre in 1995, has received numerous plaudits for transforming the elegant ballet into a cutting-edge modern classic, combining dance, humour and mime.

The traditional Swan Lake, composed by Russian composer Tchaikovsky in the 1870s, is usually staged based on choreography by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov for its 1895 revival at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg, Russia.

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake is currently the longest-running ballet on London's West End, and will tour Tokyo and Shanghai before coming to Singapore. It will also be touring to Melbourne in October. – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

'Baa Stool': The cute furry footstool inspired by sheep

Posted: 06 May 2014 01:25 AM PDT

You could be forgiven for thinking this nebulous-looking seat belonged in a field, but the Baa Stool is in fact the latest quirky design to hit the world of interiors.

Is it a furry stool, a fluffy cloud or a fuzzy sheep? Whatever it is, wouldn't you like to have one?

Set to go on display at Clerkenwell Design Week in London later this month, the handmade and cheekily named Baa Stool comprises a luxurious removable sheepskin cover on a hardwood frame. 

Produced by British designer Michelle Bartleet-Greavey, the pieces were inspired by the sheep in the countryside surrounding her home in North Wales. 

Designer Michelle Bartleet-Greavey with a flock of her Baa Stool, displaying varied their sheepskin covers. 

According to Bartleet-Greavey, each stool is made using local materials, with premium-grade British sheepskin stitched into a sleeve to create the covers. The stools are available in natural shades of ivory, dark brown, mottled creams and browns and a limited-edition pink. There are also other colour options but these depend when you place your order online. 

The hardwood legs come in two lengths and you can choose between a design resembling sheep's hooves or a minimalist tapered design that's less animalistic. Each stool currently retails for 299 pounds (RM1,642). 

Shakespeare's 'The Merchant Of Venice' is a spectacle to behold

Posted: 05 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

The play, now showing in Singapore, is the seventh edition of the Singapore Repertory Theatre's annual Shakespeare In The Park series.

The artistic director of British physical theatre company Frantic Assembly, who was lauded for his choreography for the award-winning play The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time in London, will work his magic on a staging of Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice in Singapore.

Scott Graham will provide movement direction for Singapore Repertory Theatre's Shakespeare In The Park — The Merchant Of Venice, which is now playing at Fort Canning Park in Singapore until May 25. Last year, he was nominated for the prestigious Olivier award for his choreography in The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time based on the bestselling Mark Haddon book of the same name.

In 2011, he was nominated for a Drama Desk award for his movement direction in Beautiful Burnout, a play about five young boxers who are trying to make it big.

Graham, who was here earlier this month to work with the company, says his approach to the Bard's work is no different from the way he tackles any other script.

"It's no different from doing any kind of play. The movement comes from the relationships, the subtext, what's actually going on, and allowing physicality to articulate that, sometimes through big choreographed movements, sometimes through absolute stillness."

The Merchant Of Venice is the seventh edition of the company's annual Shakespeare In The Park series, and tells the story of titular merchant Antonio, who locks horns with Jewish moneylender Shylock over a debt. It will star Daniel Jenkins as Antonio, Julie Wee as Portia and Remesh Panicker as Shylock.

The play will be directed by Bruce Guthrie, 33, who has helmed two previous productions of Shakespeare In The Park: Twelfth Night in 2012 and Othello last year.

The visual quality of 'Shakespeare In The Park - The Merchant Of Venice' will also help to carry the play to the audience seated right at the back of Fort Canning Green.

The visual quality of Shakespeare In The Park – The Merchant Of Venice will also help to carry the play to the audience seated right at the back of Fort Canning Green.

The Merchant Of Venice marks the first time Graham and Guthrie are working together. Movement director Graham says of their partnership: "The reason why I did this was because it is an opportunity to learn. I've been running Frantic Assembly for 20 years, and some people might think that's when you know what you're doing, but that's the time when you have to learn more, because otherwise, you'll fall into patterns."

Director Guthrie is also enjoying the infusion of movement into the Shakespearean drama.

He says of the choreography: "It's not dance, it's movement, and it's about the actors moving in their characters, and creating the whole world of the play.

"That connectivity between voice and body and story and character can sometimes become separated, and that's been something I'm very interested in."

Graham, 43, adds that the visual quality of the movement will also help to carry the play to the audience seated right at the back of Fort Canning Green.

"The movements will help tell that story to the people who are right at the back because every move is a line, is a sentence, that we understand so much quicker than we can take in text," he says. "We understand a very, very complex paragraph in a split second through physicality."

Along with the addition of movement, director Guthrie has also decided to update the piece to a nameless 21st century city, with some aspects of Singapore in it.

"It's originally set in Venice, but there are aspects of Singapore and Singaporean life that we think audiences will recognise, such as the fact that Venice in those days was a city of commerce, like Singapore is now," he says.

"It's a fantastic story, it's a really interesting, rich, complex and brilliant story, and it really resonates with today, and if we've done our job right, it won't feel like a 400-year-old play." – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

  • Shakespeare In The Park - The Merchant Of Venice is playing at Fort Canning Park in Singapore (daily, except Tuesday) until May 25. Tickets from www.sistic.com.sg.
Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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