Janek Schergen: Interview With Singapore Dance Theatre’s AD
Janek Schergen is the Artistic Director of Singapore’s premier dance company, Singapore Dance Theatre. At SDT, he is responsible for daily company class, teaching and rehearsal of the company’s classical and neoclassical repertoire and the oversight of the development of the artistic elements of the company as a whole. During this time, he has commissioned 31 world premiere ballets and brought in a further 19 company premieres to enrich the company’s repertoire. In 2013, he oversaw the move into SDT’s new rehearsal studios and offices. Janek has developed several programmes for SDT, including the Ballet Associates Course, Scholar’s Programme, One @ the Ballet, The Ambassador’s Circle, the annual Moon and the Stars fundraising gala, Celebration in Dance (a collaboration between SDT and the RAD), SDT Choreographic Workshop, The SDT Intensive Ballet Programme and several other platforms to increase the artistic identity of SDT and its awareness in the arts community in Singapore.
Hello Janek, thanks for talking with us at TheatreArtLife! How are you doing, and how have you been coping with the pandemic?
As for everybody, this time has been a challenge, 2020 was planned to be a major year for SDT with our seasons in Singapore plus tours to Malaysia and the United States. With everything cancelled, we’ve adapted, rescheduled and made new plans for everything: every problem is an opportunity to find a solution.
How much has Singapore Dance Theatre had to adapt in moving online this year?
We did an online Virtual Fundraiser which was the first of its kind in the arts community in Singapore. Happily, it was successful and we’ve also added several online contents – #MeetMeOnMonday, #TechniqueTuesday, #FitnessFriday and #StretchItSunday.
Following Singapore’s nationwide lockdown, SDT was chosen to take part in a pilot performance, with a capacity of 50 audiences at the Esplanade Theatre. The pilot performance titled From Here On represented the company’s promise to remain progressive and adaptable in times of change and and difficulty.
We have also collaborated with the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) in a video to promote tourism and for Singaporeans to rediscover Singapore, plus several videos for online engagement.
Looking forward to 2021, the theme of the new season is “Dance From Within”. What is the message behind this, and what can we look forward to seeing and experiencing with this theme?
Through the ups and downs of 2020, we have found a deepened connection with our audience and loyal supporters as we dared to dance beyond our circumstances by opening up our homes to virtual ballet classes and heart-to-heart live interviews. More than ever, SDT is committed to presenting world-class ballets, and our hope is to inspire, unite, and lead the arts industry forward.
Season 2021 – Dance From Within seeks to reveal who we are in the most authentic and genuine way. We believe that the beauty of dance is grounded in its power to reveal our deepest selves, and express what words cannot. We are inviting you to step back into theatres with us and fall in love with dance all over again.
To be liberated, captivated, and fascinated by the magic of dance within ourselves, because this is who we are, we are dancers.
At the moment, it is still unclear as to whether we are able to perform under normal circumstances in the new year. But we have alternate plans and will execute them accordingly. Our plans will still be very much in line with our Dance From Within theme, expressing sincerity from the company.
And while SDT is known for performances, you also offer a lot of education and classes – how is this continuing, and is there an online learning option?
We’ve done some with online classes and fitness. Part of dance is the social element, so we needed to get back more and more to that.
You can find more about our classes and fitness here.
Aside from the exciting new theme for 2021 you mentioned earlier, what will we enjoy from SDT next?
All the choreographers we planned to work with on the creation of new pieces have told us they are eager to return in 2021 – so that’s a plus! We’re also using this time to compile and archive Singaporean Choreographer, Choo-San Goh’s ballets.