Manon, Queensland Ballet, QPAC, September 28 and 29, 2022

Kenneth MacMillan’s Manon premiered in 1974, not quite a decade after his Romeo and Juliet, and in some ways is the earlier ballet’s dark twin. Each has as its heart young lovers in a hostile environment whose instant attraction to one another ends in tragedy; each has hugely coveted leading roles of the kind that make reputations.  Queensland…

Hansel & Gretel, Royal New Zealand Ballet

Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre, Auckland, December 5. It is no small thing to make a full-length narrative ballet that wins its place in a company’s repertoire. Many are attempted and many end up as red lines on a balance sheet unless sets and costumes can be sold or repurposed. Most happily, Loughlan Prior’s Hansel &…

Queensland and West Australian ballet companies of one mind in 2020

Queensland Ballet announced its 2020 season in mid-September; West Australian Ballet in this past week. The nation’s leading state ballet companies are different in scale and usually in repertoire but their seasons next year have some striking similarities. West Australian Ballet offers a repeat season of Krzysztof Pastor’s full-length Dracula in September 2020 after its…

Dangerous Liaisons, Queensland Ballet

Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Brisbane, March 23. Dangerous Liaisons is not suitable for children, advises Queensland Ballet. Too true. Sex is the currency in this world and there’s a lot of it. In the first few minutes of Liam Scarlett’s new ballet a couple copulates on a coffin, setting the tone for what’s to come. When…

Carmen & The Firebird, Queensland Ballet

Queensland Performing Arts Centre, May 26. You win some and you lose some. Queensland Ballet is a co-producer of Carlos Acosta’s Carmen with The Royal Ballet and Texas Ballet Theater, which means QB’s name is attached to it forever. I doubt I’ve seen a worse ballet from reputable companies in more than 40 years. I’m not…

A new year dawns at RNZB

Biographies of the new intake at Royal New Zealand Ballet are now on the website after last year’s bruising and very public exodus of a large number of dancers. There are currently 32 dancers pictured on the site, 22 of whom were still standing at the end of 2017. Now the dust has settled it…

Li and QB: my artists of the year

My first Artist of the Year, in 2015, was operatic mezzo, cabaret sensation, music-theatre star and all-round fine human being Jacqueline Dark. Last year I went for a large, disparate group of people and companies – the independent theatre artists who do tremendous work at low prices, making their art accessible to all often at…

Quakes and tremors at RNZB

The party to mark Royal New Zealand Ballet’s 60th anniversary was in full swing at Wellington’s St James Theatre when the earthquake struck. The special matinee performance of Swan Lake on July 21, 2013, had been attended by many former dancers, staff and friends and now it was time to raise a glass and reminisce….

Don Quixote, West Australian Ballet

His Majesty’s Theatre, Perth, May 11 and 12. Don Quixote is all fluff and high spirits. Based glancingly on the Cervantes novel, the ballet foregrounds the romance between Kitri, an innkeeper’s daughter, and the impecunious barber Basilio. Kitri’s father would prefer her to marry money, which turns up in the form of Gamache, a fool….

Swan Lake, Queensland Ballet

Queensland Performing Arts Centre, May 5. Queensland Ballet’s Swan Lake had a 42nd Street quality on opening night as junior company member Joel Woellner was chosen to dance Prince Siegfried alongside the seasoned Odette-Odile of QB principal artist – and former top-ranked star at the National Ballet of Cuba – Yanela Piñera. Piñera has presence…