What is the magic of Queensland Ballet? And what draws the crowds to sellout performances at QPAC Lyric theatre?
Tonight's performance of Swan Lake to a full house heralded a special standard of dancing for the Queensland Ballet. Artistic director Li Cunxin wanted to introduce this timeless classic, a ballet that has so many precious memories for him, at a time when the dancers "were more than ready" for the exacting nature of Ben Stevenson's choreography of Swan Lake.
And they were definitely "more than ready". It is normal for a review to feature the principal dancers first but it would not give credit to the main strength of this performance; it worked as a mellifluous whole with all cast members offering excellence and full engagement with the production. The dancers worked dynamically as a team, allowing us to be drawn inexorably into an entrancing fairy tale and buoyed by the passionate music of Tchaikovsky, played wonderfully by the QSO under the baton of Nigel Gaynor.
Magic can happen not only by an expressive and passionate performance but also by attention to detail. Every cast member handled their stagecraft with extreme skill; moving, acting, facial expressions and gestures, and timing all done to the highest standards. Who could not be proud of the growth and development of this Queensland company and their commitment to excellence?
Tonight's production featured Lucy Green as Odette/Odille and Alexander Idaszak as Prince Siegried. The role of Odette/Odille is fiendishly difficult requiring the dancer to express two completely different personalities through the qualities of her dance and facial expressions. I was captivated with Lucy's performances of Odette and Odille which were confident, sensitive and convincing.
Alexander also danced with fluidity and confidence. It makes sense to provide different soloists the chance to perform these demanding roles. Such opportunities make for a cohesive and motivated ballet corps.
The famous Danse des petits cygnes received well-deserved enthusiastic applause. Watch the next excerpt of the cygnets rehearsing and see why this familiar sequence is such a source of delight.
Lighting and costuming beautifully enhanced the sense of enchantment; glorious swan-feathered tutus of pure white danced in the muted light and shimmered with each graceful move en pointe. The castle and village sets radiated colourful vistas for the characters to move about the stage in their richly embroidered costumes.
Overall the magic comes from all the elements of this production and from the vision that had its earliest roots many years ago; in the original 1877 Russian ballet, later developed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov for the Imperial Ballet Theatre that has subsequently inspired dance companies the world over. It sparked a particular alchemy some 30 years ago between Li Cunxin and Ben Stevenson where the technical excellence of Chinese ballet met the artistry of Western styled ballet.
So from Russia to a Chinese/American connection between dancer and choreographer in Houston which in turn brought a combined vision to Queensland Australia. One hundred and forty years of dance across the globe has made Queensland Ballet's entrancing production of Swan Lake possible and set the stage to prove, once again, that true love can triumph!