Bespoke Thomas Dixon Centre – freshly refurbished and renovated, hosted its first live performance on Wednesday 20 July when Queensland Ballet presented Bespoke. It was a contemporary performance in three parts, featuring the works of three renowned Australian choreographers.

I greatly looked forward to the first performance, Tethered, after an enthusiastic reading of the choreographer’s notes. Inspiration for the work was found in paintings by living French artist, Isabelle Vialle and the choral work, Miserere by Henryk Gorecki.

(Vialle’s mesmerising paintings blur the line between forming and fading, appearing and disappearing); I was really looking forward to seeing this transcribed into the format of modern dance. Overall, I was however, disappointed and dismayed.

From the reviewer’s perspective, it was too dark in the actual, visual sense. No matter how intriguing the interpretive work or how innovative or complex the choreography, my mind cannot grasp, interpret or analyse what I cannot watch and follow without impediment.

The ‘shadows’ were clad in what looked like loose, black hazmat suits which were difficult to see on the dimly lit stage. Thankfully, I could see The Man (Joshua Ostermann) and The Woman (Sophie Kerr).

Outstanding performances by both of these young, emerging dancers! Clearly, these leads were skilfully choreographed to perform some complicated, articulated movements and to physically hold some frozen moments.

I knew that I was watching the work of a formidable choreographer, but I felt that I was missing out on what I couldn’t clearly see. I don’t doubt the talent of Petros Treklis, but I’d recommend dressing the shadows in dark body suits with visible, white, expressive faces and adding lighting.

The photograph in the program shows the intensity of expression on the faces of the dancers during rehearsal but which was hidden during the lengthy performance.

But, what a tremendous privilege for Petros Treklis and the young dancers from the Jette Parker Program to be selected to open the inaugural performance at this new and wonderful Arts venue!

The second performance, Biography, was choreographed by the award-winning, Stephanie Lake. It opened with lines of dancers daintily sidestepping across the stage as though on a conveyor belt.

Intermittently, individuals sprang suddenly and unexpectedly to life, adopting a spreading, still position accompanied by a comical facial expression. Delightful! We all laughed every time. All the dancers uniformly sported singlets and loose shorts.

Part of the performance was accompanied by a recording of solid drumbeats which magnified the rhythmic strength and dutiful discipline which is foundational to a successful dance company. In this instance, a very versatile ballet company who can also comfortably embrace and own a repertoire of contemporary works.

Great to watch principal, Joel Woellner in this piece! Standouts from my viewpoint were Mali Comlekci, Georgia Swan and Lina Kim.

The final performance of the night was the choreographic work of Queensland Ballet’s own, Greg Horsman. It was strikingly beautiful! The magnificence of classical performance laced with a contemporary edge and clearly much enjoyed by the glowing, smiling dancers.

Great choice of costume by designer, Zoe Griffiths. Warm, dynamic and colourful and worn by physically perfect and graceful beings.

It was a privilege to attend this inaugural performance at the Thomas Dixon Centre with its own intimate theatre. Congratulations to Queensland Ballet on the acquisition of this wonderfully refurbished part of Brisbane’s history and heritage.

As described by Artistic Director, Li Cunxin AO, “a world class facility” anticipated to “deliver such magic for years to come.”

Thomas Dixon Centre, 406 Montague Road, West End (Brisbane)
Performance: Wednesday 20 July 2022
Season continues to 30 July 2022
Information and Bookings:

Image: Stephanie Lake’s Biography – photo by David Kelly

Review: Michele-Rose Boylan