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Ballet is back after sixty years in the making and a 12-month wait

Culture

After being postponed during a lost year due to COVID-19, the Queensland Ballet returns tonight without audience limits for the first time to celebrate its 60th birthday.

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The ballet returns to the stage to pay tribute to six decades of ballet and the company’s five Artistic Directors: Charles Lisner OBE, Harry Haythorne, Harold Collins MBE, François Klaus and Li Cunxin AO.

The 60th Anniversary Gala runs from 5 March to 20 March and is an homage to the history of the company from its humble origins to present day, which celebrates the wealth of dance created over the course of six decades.

The Queensland Ballet began in its original iteration as the The Lisner Ballet Academy, started by Parisian born Charles Lisner in 1953.

The dance school grew in calibre and acclaim and was renamed as the Queensland Ballet in 1961, which now boasts a company of 60 dancers.

In homage to Lisner, dancers Victor Estèvez and Mia Heathcote will perform his Chopin pas de deux (1965). 

Audiences will also be treated to excerpts from proceeding iconic works, including Jacqui Carroll’s Carmina Burana (1982), Harold Collins’ The Lady of the Camellias (1996) and Francois Klaus’s The Little Mermaid (2003) and Cloudland (2004).

The season will culminate in Harold Lander’s thrilling and masterful homage to classical ballet, Études (1948) showcasing Queensland Ballet today, under current Artistic Director, Li Cunxin AO.

“We will be the envy of the entire world,” Li told the ABC.

Queensland Ballet artistic director Li Cunxin. (Photo: David Kelly)

“Everybody was so looking forward to celebrating this great milestone moment, and suddenly COVID hit,” Li said.

“Psychologically, physically, [the dancers] were so ready to go, and suddenly they said, ‘You can’t do it, and we don’t know when you can return.’

“It was devastating.”

The Queensland Ballet returned in August to limited crowds, but the Anniversary Gala will mark the return to full-house performances, in time to celebrate six decades of iconic and innovative ballet.

Queensland Ballet’s 60th Anniversary Gala will run from March 5-20 at the Playhouse Theatre, QPAC. For more information or to book tickets, visit  queenslandballet.com.au/2021/60th-anniversary-gala

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