At last, after the postponement of 2020, Queensland Ballet splendidly premiered their 60th Anniversary Gala at QPAC on Friday 5 March 2021. It was delightful to see a stage filled with classically clothed dancers from both the Ballet company and the associated academy.
Founder of Queensland Ballet, Charles Lisner OBE was honoured by a presentation of the Pas de Deux by Chopin which he had choreographed. First Company Artist, Joseph Chapman ably rose to the privilege of partnering Principal ballerina, Yanela Pinera.
The Pas de Deux from Cloudland was choreographed by Francois Klaus who was also present in the audience. Mia Heathcote and partner, Victor Estevez were a perfect pair in this poignant performance.
Carl Orff’s cantata, Carmina Burana – the Tavern Scene, with its red tones and smoky hues contrasted wonderfully and dramatically with the softness of the previous pieces. This powerful work with its medieval origins and contemporary dance overtones was choreographed by Jacqui Carroll.
This performance clearly demonstrated the calibre, quality and strength of the company’s male dancers. The featured soloists, Vito Bernasconi, Liam Geck and Rian Thompson were excellent.
Following the first interval, the choreography of Harold Collins MBE was commemorated in the Pas de Deux from The Lady of the Camellias featuring Georgia Swan, Joel Woellner and Sophie Zoricic.
Marius Petipa’s Wedding Pas de Deux from Don Quixote was performed by Principal dancer, Camilo Ramos and Senior Soloist, Neneka Yoshida. Neneka was clad in the most stunning and colourful classical tutu of the evening. Francois Klaus was honoured again as choreographer in his Finale from The Little Mermaid. This performance required twenty dancers.
After the second interval, the evening concluded with Harald Lander’s, Etudes. This performance highlighted for me the abilities of the three dancers who had captured my attention throughout the gala performance: Principal ballerina, Yanela Pinera, Principal male, Victor Estevez and Soloist, Patricio Reve.
Yanela’s fouettés and spins were astonishing whilst Patricio Reve demonstrates strength, elevation and abilities beyond what is expected of a soloist company dancer. Strong consideration should be given to the promotion of this outstanding dancer to the rank of Principal.
From the balcony I could see the Queensland Chamber Orchestra conducted by Nigel Gaynor and was greatly impressed. Special credit is extended to harpist, Loni Fitzpatrick and lead violinist, Brendan Joyce.
Congratulations to Artistic Director, Li Cunxin AO for putting together this celebratory tribute to 60 years of Queensland Ballet. He is also to be duly praised for his ability to sustain and encourage the hopes and dreams of the company dancers during the heartache and disappointment of the previous year.
A wonderful evening of tributes to the hard work and talents of the previous Artistic Directors presented by current company dancers.
Queensland Ballet 60th Anniversary Gala
Playhouse – Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), Cultural Precinct, South Bank (Brisbane)
Performance: Friday 5 March 2021
Season continues to 20 March 2021
For more information, visit: www.queenslandballet.com.au for details.
Image: The Little Mermaid featuring Artists of the Queensland Ballet – photo by David Kelly
Review: Michele-Rose Boylan