Artistic Director Li Cunxin AO said the decisions have been made following advice from the Federal Government that the industry is facing a six-month proposition to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Dracula has been postponed until 2021, as has the tour of Melbourne to present Swan Lake, and also our regional touring program, Tutus on Tour. New dates for these three seasons are still to be confirmed,” said Mr Li. “Dates for The Sleeping Beauty have been condensed to 25 September – 10 October, with the 60th Anniversary Gala rescheduled for 8 – 11 October at the Lyric Theatre.”
It’s hoped the remainder of the 2020 season can continue as planned. Bespoke, Peter and The Wolf, Synergy, Queensland Ballet Academy Gala, The Nutcracker, and Queensland Ballet Academy 60th Anniversary Performance are planned to proceed as per schedule. Patrons will be kept updated as the public health advice changes.
The Company Dancers have been sent home with full pay, while the Pre-Professional Program and all face-to-face sessions in Queensland Ballet’s extensive community engagement and education offering have been suspended. Work is still underway to determine if the workshop component of the Tutus on Tour could still be delivered.
The core Queensland Ballet Academy Senior Program delivered on site in collaboration with Kelvin Grove State College will continue to operate whilst schools remain open. The Academy has implemented numerous safety and hygiene measures to ensure students and faculty minimise their risk of exposure.
Though not in studio, the Company Dancers and the Pre-Professional Program students will continue to work on their general fitness, and to create content for future performances and social media. They’ll be offered classes and support from teachers and the health and wellness team to maintain their suppleness and fitness all via technology.
“The dancers understandably were a bit down. They have dedicated their life to their art form and now we’re saying you can’t perform for the next few months. But they are a resilient group, and it’s this resilience and moral discipline that will see them through,” said Mr Li.“Like everyone else in our industry we must be flexible, we have to see how we can make the rest of the year work.”
Mr Li said the enabling teams of Queensland Ballet were looking for ways to engage with its community. “We are in the business of making people happy and making society happy, and we’re looking at how we maintain connection with them. There are lots of good ideas and we’re working through them now,” he said.
“In times of crisis, a good team with a good culture and good values will pull together. The care, the enthusiasm, and the commitment the company has demonstrated is truly inspiring. It’s brought out the best qualities in our people and made us think outside of the box too,” he said.
Patrons will have a choice to exchange a valid ticket, put credit on their account, request a refund, or consider a donation in lieu of refund.
Queensland Ballet Executive Director Dilshani Weerasinghe said she supported calls from industry bodies for a targeted package of assistance to support the hundreds of performing arts companies and tens of thousands of artists and arts workers who will be impacted by the shutdown of events.
“We are seeking clarification from Governments on the support packages available for our sector’s people. In the interim we’re working to understand the impact these changes will have on our team and their families,” said Ms Weerasinghe.
Ms Weerasinghe said it’s yet another test for arts organisations, who will have to remain adaptable. She believes artists and arts organisations in Queensland will work to support each other during this period. “We are facing a period of non-business-as-usual in the wake of COVID-19. Working together, we could come out of this challenging time as a more cohesive, collaborative society, governed by kindness and consideration,” she said.
“We are looking at ways to keep our team actively engaged however we are also needing to plan for the inevitable period of recovery which will follow. For our dancers, this could be an opportunity to develop their art in unique and unexpected ways and we are already workshopping some of their creative ideas. For our arts workers, connecting with our community is what drives us, so that work will continue, just differently.”
For more information, visit: www.queenslandballet.com.au for details.
Image: Artists of the Queensland Ballet – Tutus on Tour (supplied)