Queensland Ballet Academy Gala

QB-Academy-Gala-Hues-of-Blue-photo-by-David-KellyWhat a delight of a night! It commenced and concluded with music by Tchaikovsky and choreography by Paul Boyd. From the background colours to Kathryn Lee’s costumes, and including the long gown worn by pianist, Catherine Yu, Hues of Blue began the evening.

In the Tchaikovsky Suite, Academy Levels 1, 2 and 3 performed a classical work. This was impressive! They looked like professional dancers from a ballet company. Poised and precise. Balanced and elegant. Clearly, these dancers have been carefully and expertly trained in the classical context of ballet.

Their reaches, lifts, leaps and spins were executed with a technical maturity beyond what I was anticipating from pre-adult dancers. The future, potential soloists have been identified and were presented in brief sequences where they demonstrated their outstanding abilities.

Louise Deleur choreographed Powder which was presented by dancers from the Contemporary Course. This was another flowing and fluid performance which included some complex floor work and moments of pause. I commend the clever choreographic inclusion of the grand piano and pianist in this piece. It reflected a deep respect for the abilities of the piano soloist, musical composition and the magnificent instrument itself.

I chuckled quietly at the Charlie Chaplin excerpt. (He is a comedic figure). I was absolutely enchanted by the ability of these young dancers to completely adopt all of the famed mannerisms of Chaplin. The unique, stiff, wooden walk, the wobbly head and stunned expression. They wonderfully embraced it all. The stage was filled with adorable Charlie Chaplins.

Act II was comprised of a series of brief but striking works. This is a very effective format for showcasing the abilities of dancers from a large academy. Primarily the pieces performed were choreographed by Louise Deleur. Dancers, Samantha Grammer and Jack Jones from the Pre-Professional Program choreographed and performed their own lovely work, Intertwine.

Elijah-Jade Bowen deserves special commendation for her performance of her own choreography to an excerpt from Brolga. Brolga was composed by her late Uncle David Page. This creative, self-expressive work reflected the beauty, depth and spirituality of their proud, Indigenous heritage. It also reinforced the spirituality of family ties.

Whilst Queensland has recently been labelled ‘the youth crime capital of Australia’, it was refreshing and reassuring to see these young dancers embracing the hard work of artistic development. I recognise the sad reality that opportunity is a privilege not widely offered or available evenly to all. This is epitomised by Li Cunxin’s own remarkable story.

Across the entire evening, these young students of dance mirrored the elite calibre of the academy which is training them in all aspects of performance for audience.

Li Cunxin departs from his role of Artistic Director at the end of this season. He has requested that if anyone wishes to make a donation to honour him, that donations are directed towards the Queensland Ballet Academy and the Jette Parker Young Artist Program. Donations can be made at www.celebratingli.com.au

Queensland Ballet Academy Gala
Talbot Theatre – Thomas Dixon Centre, 406 Montague Road, West End (Brisbane)
Performance: Friday 11 August 2023
Season continues to 13 August 2023
Information and Bookings: www.queenslandballet.com.au

Image: Catherine Yu (on piano) with Dancers from the Queensland Ballet Academy in Hues of Blue – photo by David Kelly

Review: Michele-Rose Boylan