Queensland Ballet 60th Anniversary Gala

Playhouse, QPAC (Queensland Ballet)

What a spectacular, diverse gala to celebrate six decades of dance in Queensland!

This engaging promenade  down memory lane starts with the pure Chopin Pas de Deux performed by the stellar Yanela Pinera and Joseph Chapman. The piece was choreographed by the founder of the Queensland Ballet, Charles Lisner OBE. It is a fitting homage to his romantic legacy.

Mia Heathcote shines in Cloudland along with Victor Estevez to the haunting music of Jules Massenet’s Meditation from Thais. Former artistic director Francois Klaus choreographed this work dedicated to a Brisbane cultural icon sadly now demolished. For baby boomers it brings back memories of balls, enchantment and young love.

If ballet is to be a living, dynamic art form, we must give sense and meaning to our own place and time and not merely repeat the great classics of overseas and yesteryear. Francois Klaus recognised this creative challenge and gave us a legacy of works that give meaning to being a Queenslander. The brilliant dancing of Rachael Walsh of this work in 2006 remains one of the most sparkling lights in the Queensland Ballet firmament.

By way of something completely different, we are treated to the dramatic, red-lit, male-combat Tavern Scene from Carmina Burana choreographed by Jacqui Carroll, co-director of  local cutting-edge Frank Theatre.

And who could forget the magnificence of former prima ballerina Michelle Giammichelle (White) in The Lady of the Camellias composed for her by former Queensland Ballet artistic director Harold Collins. It is a beautiful study in fluid grace performed by Georgia Swan and Joel Woellner.

Lucy Green dazzles with her pirouettes in the Wedding Pas de Deux from Don Quixote ably supported by Victor Estevez. This piece has been adapted from the original choreography by Marcus Petipa.

Camerata, the Queensland Chamber Orchestra conducted by Nigel Gaynor plays beautifully Johann Sebastian Bach’s Air in G to accompany the sweet sadness of the corps de ballet performing the Finale, Act II of The Little Mermaid choreographed by Francois Klaus. The disciplined excellence of the corps de ballet takes us beneath the sea into the moving, elegant world of the mermaids.

 The evening concludes with another exquisite performance by Yanela Pinera and Victor Estevez in Etudes choreographed by Harold Lander. This work  is a tribute to classical ballet training and the history of dance. The ballet begins by illustrating the basic exercises at the barre which are still performed by dancers everywhere in their daily class. It develops in complexity and richness to a surging finale.

The 60th Anniversary Gala is a mighty celebration of dance in Queensland. It rightly honours the outstanding brilliance of those who have given such joy and beauty to Queensland audiences, such as Michelle Giammichelle (White) and Rachael Walsh, and also showcases our current stars. Like all great art, it teaches and delights. We are a community greatly enriched by the artistic wonder that is the Queensland Ballet.

Artistic director: Li Cunxin
Music composers: Frederic Chopin, Jules Massenet, Carl Orff, Giuseppe Verdi, Ludwig Minkus, Johann Sebastian Bach, Knudaage Riisager after Carl Czerny
Music performed by: Camerata – Queensland Chamber Orchestra conducted by Nigel Gaynor
Stagers: Michelle White, Rachael Walsh, Johnny Eliasen, Anthony Shearsmith and Claire Phipps-Males
Lighting designer and recreator: Cameron Goerg
Choreography: Charles Lisner OBE, Francois Klaus, Jacqui Carroll, Harold Collins MBE, Marius Petipa and Harold Lander
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes (including two 20 minute intervals)
Performances: 5-20 March 2021

— Matt Foley
(Performance seen: Sat 13th March 2021)

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