Queensland Ballet have launched their 2019 Season with the tagline ‘Move Boldly’, unveiling a program that Artistic Director Li Cunxin says promises more breadth than ever before. The season is laid out in full below:
22 March – 6 April
A new ballet and world premiere ‘for mature audiences’ based on Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ 18th century novel, choreographed by Queensland Ballet Artistic Associate and acclaimed choreographer Liam Scarlett. A sultry tale set amongst the aristocratic elite of late 18th century France.
Dangerous Liaisons will also tour regionally to Gold Coast, Cairns, Toowoomba, and Mackay.
The Masters Series
17 – 25 May
A triple bill featuring George Balanchine’s iconic Serenade, Jiří Kylián’s masterful Soldier’s Mass exploring the horrors of war through the eyes of young soldiers, and a new world premiere work by Trey McIntyre, who delighted QB audiences with Peter Pan.
28 June – 6 July
A showcase of the future of Queensland Ballet, bringing together the rising stars of QB and Queensland Ballet Academy for a season of contemporary and neo-classical works. Pre-Professional dancers and Jette Parker Young Artists will join QB’s Company Artists to perform an exciting season of new works from emerging choreographers at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts.
The Little Green Road to Fairyland
11 – 21 July
A whimsical ‘My First Ballet’ and a co-production with Queensland Music Festival, set in the Australian bush and inspired by the original 1922 tale by Annie R. Rentoul and Ida Rentoul Outhwaite. This work will be choreographed Paul Boyd and soprano Katie Noonan will join for select performances.
A sensory friendly performance will also be held on Sunday 14 July at 1pm.
Romeo and Juliet
28 August – 7 September
Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s iconic and beloved production returns after a sell-out season in 2014, bringing the streets of Verona to vibrant life with elegant costumes, majestic sets and daring choreography that matches the dramatic heights of this classic love story.
Queensland Ballet Academy Gala
18 & 19 October
Following the announcement of a major expansion, including a multi-million dollar new training facility in Kelvin Grove, of the Queensland Ballet Academy, this gala will showcase Academy dancers in works by Sir Kenneth MacMillan and Liam Scarlett, in a program of inspiring classical pieces and dynamic contemporary works.
Lucy Guerin, Amy Hollingsworth and Loughlan Prior produce a series of new contemporary works and a multi-sensory experience, with the aim of creating a collaborative space for artists who share a vision to co-create, disrupt the norm and embrace the interlacing of technology and dance.
13 – 21 December
Ben Stevenson’s family favourite transports audiences to the Land of Snow and the Kingdom of Sweets as little Clara embarks on a magical Christmas Eve adventure.
My two cents on the new season:
‘Move Boldly’ is an all-encompassing phrase for a season that is somewhat thematically disparate. The year begins with love, sex, and betrayal and ends with a Christmas classic. In between there is contemporary dance for the digital age (Bespoke), a showcase of the talents of QB Academy students by themselves (Academy Gala) and in cooperation with the Company Artists (Synergy), a production aiming to foster a love of ballet in children (The Little Green Road to Fairyland), a crowd favourite (Romeo and Juliet) and a triple bill which is also thematically disparate within itself, strung together as three pieces of iconic repertoire presented in one evening (The Masters Series).
This disconnect is not a negative thing by any stretch, but given all that is happening in Queensland right now – millions of dollars of investment in arts infrastructure, much of which Queensland Ballet will benefit from, as well as the unveiling of 2019 seasons from other state companies that celebrate diversity and deliver on targets of equitable representation – it is slightly underwhelming to see a season peppered with tried-and-true audience favourites under key phrases like “daring to challenge” and “driven by an artistic vision that is audacious at its core”.
The collaboration with Queensland Music Festival is certainly promising, as is the ongoing relationship with Queensland Symphony Orchestra – Music Director Alondra de la Parra will conduct some of the performances of Romeo and Juliet.
Only two female choreographers have been announced (and only one female choreographer external to QB), and both these works will app
ear in Bespoke, which has proven a very popular series over the past two years but is not one of the big, glitzy QPAC seasons. This is a disappointing and disproportionate gender ratio.
There is the potential for boundary-pushing in Dangerous Liaisons, certainly, but the promo images of a woman reclining in lingerie do not assuage my concerns that this will be something of a rehashed Carmen. Liam Scarlett is an exceptional choreographer, though, and recognised as such by people with far more clout than a local blogger like myself. Time will tell, and I look forward to this work with optimism. At any rate, it will be interesting to see a brand new, full length ballet brought to life.
From my perspective, Bespoke and The Masters Series will be the pick of the bunch, and doubtless Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s acclaimed Romeo and Juliet will be a delight (I missed out on the 2014 season and am intrigued to see what all the fuss is about!). Some big things have been promised, and I look forward to seeing the delivery.