Playhouse, QPAC (Queensland Ballet)


Professional production

Cloudland is a knockout! If, like this reviewer, you were silly enough to miss it at the 2004 Brisbane Festival, don’t make the same mistake again.

It’s a local story which speaks to the universal themes of love and loss, and celebrates the great iconic Queensland ballroom which was savagely destroyed in the middle of the night in 1982 during the excesses of the Bjelke-Petersen regime. Baby boomers will love it, for it brings back memories of balls, enchantment and young love.

The live dance band Blackwood, led by clarinet–playing music director Sean O’Boyle, sweeps the evening through a blend of Latin, swing and rhythm and blues.

The story turns around the life of Christina, brilliantly danced by Rachael Walsh. As Christina, Walsh captures the exuberance of wartime romance, the tragic loss of a lover killed in the war, and the quiet beauty that comes with resignation. She is a truly gifted artist who evokes a flood of feeling through her sensitive and passionate treatment of her work. Zachary Chant is a worthy partner for the pas de deux.

The corps de ballet looked as if they were enjoying themselves. They had plenty of material as Sean O’Boyle and his musicians beat out the classics from Take the ‘A’ Train and Begin the Beguine through to Rock Around the Clock and Let’s Twist Again.

Very enjoyable, you may say, but is it ballet? This reviewer humbly thinks so. It is a vibrant local story told with a passion that transcends time and place. No wonder the audience’s response to the excerpts performed in Germany and Switzerland in January this year was extraordinarily welcoming. It looked, too, as if costume designer Noelene Hill had fun designing the ball gowns. The costume change where cleaners were transformed into dancing queens was a nice touch.

The Queensland Ballet continues to make original local works to help us understand and celebrate our community and ourselves. The company is to be congratulated for ensuring that ballet is a living art, not just a repetition of steps and stories made long ago and far away.

For a night of spectacularly beautiful dance and great live music, this is the show to see.

Choreographed by Francois Klaus

Playing until Saturday 11 March 2006, with performances on Friday 3 March at 7.30pm, Saturday 4 March at 2pm & 7.30pm, Sunday 5 March at 3pm, Friday 10 March at 7.30pm, Saturday 11 March at 2pm & 7.30pm.

Duration : 2 hours including one interval.

— Matt Foley
(Performance seen: Thu 23rd February 2006)