A Classical Celebration

Lyric Theatre (Queensland Ballet)


This celebration of excerpts from classical ballets is an exquisite treat for audiences and a fitting last hurrah for Queensland Ballet’s Francois Klaus, after 15 years as artistic director.

The curtain rises to the luxurious rhythms of a Strauss waltz. The preternatural Rachael Walsh joins with Keian Langdon to whirl the spirit through the many delights of the evening.

We soon find ourselves in La Sylphide where the Sylph (Meng Ningning) and James (Hao Bin) lead the corps de ballet and the professional year dancers through the forest scene.

The performance is far from predictable. The irrepressible Teri Crilly with a smile brighter than the morning star treats us to Neopolitan from Swan Lake in a boisterous caf scene.

After interval a more classical approach to Swan Lake is apparent with elegant, moving performances by Clare Morehen as Odette and Hao Bin as Siegfried.

No program of this sort would be complete without the pathos of the dying swan, danced beautifully by Meng Ningning to the haunting music of Camille-Saint-Saens.. The evening is made extra special by an inspired performance of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra directed by Craig Allister Young. It is hard to beat a real harp playing Tchaikovsky evocative music to Swan Lake.

The evening concludes with an elemental performance by Rachael Walsh of The Little Mermaid, danced to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach Air in G. All members of the company perform in plain white costumes against a stark, dark background to the pure ecstasy of Bach’s music. The dancers move forward in formation. The music stops. They continue their approach to the audience, dancing in silence for several spellbinding moments. Is there something in the core and nature of human life which propels the dance even without music? As the poet Yeats asked: “Oh bodies swayed to music, Oh brightening glance,/ How shall we know the dancer from the dance?”

A deep artistic power is abroad in this company. Francois Klaus has left a spirited legacy for his successor Li Cunxin, Mao last dancer, now Queensland Ballet’s latest artistic director.

Artistic director: Francois Klaus
Set designer: Graham McLean
Lighting designer: Ben Hughes
Costume designer: Noelene Hill

— Matt Foley
(Performance seen: Tue 30th October 2012)