Li’s Choice

Playhouse, QPAC (Queensland Ballet)

This splendid production delivers a trinity of ballets to help our hearts recover feeling and meaning in a sometimes dark world.

Ten years ago Mao’s Last Dancer”  Li Cunxin took over the reins as Artistic Director of the Queensland Ballet. Li has chosen three short works to celebrate that decade of dynamic growth, building on the strong foundations  of Li’s predecessors Charles Lisner, Harry Haythone, Harold Collins and Francois Klaus.

“Glass Concerto” is a neo-classical piece choreographed by Greg Horsman for three couples to the haunting, rhythmic music of contemporary American composer Philip Glass. Yanela Pinera dances sublimely with senior soloist Patricio Reve. These two Cuban artists bring a Latin passion to their pas de deux. They are ably supported by Chiara Gonzalez and David Power. Mia Heathcote demonstrates brilliance in her pas de deux with Joel Woeliner.

Queensland’s own internationally acclaimed Natalie Weir choreographs “We Who are Left”, a moving study in the pathos of war. Weir has integrated the works of Wold War I poet Wilfred Owen with the solemn drama of Benjamin Britten’s “War Requiem”. Principal artist Lucy Green expresses poignantly the trauma of a woman left to wait for her soldier lover to return from the horrors of combat.

The third piece affords the audience a happy ending to the evening. “Elite Syncopations”  is choreographed by the legendary Kenneth Mac Millan to the ragtime music of Scott Joplin (remember the piano music background in the classic 1973 movie “The Sting” starring Paul Newman?). Exotic costumes and cheeky interactions give rise to a rollicking good time of colourful camaraderie. The full cast is on stage. In a remarkable display of artistic mutability , Lucy Green in this piece exudes the elan vital of merry ragtime dance.

Like all art forms, ballet needs to express not only the great classics of yesterday but also to create new works expressing the sense and sensibility of today’s world. The ballets selected by Li tell us that he is alive to that challenge. That bodes well for the future of dance in Queensland.

Artistic director: Li Cunxin

Choreographers: Greg Hosman, Natalie Weir, Kenneth MacMillan

Music: Phillip Glass, Benjamin Britten, Scott Joplin

Conductor of Camerata/ Piano: Nigel Gaynor

Performances: 10-25  June 2022

Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes with two 20-minute intervals.

— Matt Foley
(Performance seen: Fri 10th June 2022)

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