A Decade of Directorship under Li Cunxin AO
Queensland Ballet Unveils 2022 Season
In 2022, Queensland Ballet unveils a Season of celebration, change and bold ambition, as the Company reflects on a decade of directorship under Li Cunxin AO.
Artistic Director Li Cunxin joined QB in mid-2012 with big dreams to see the Queensland born-and-bred Company thrive on and off the stage. A decade on, QB has experienced extraordinary growth, with 60 dancers, a world-standard repertory of ballet works, and an internationally renowned Academy training curriculum, all situated across three world-class homes at the Thomas Dixon Centre, the Academy and a newly acquired site slated for a Production Centre in Yatala.
“In Season 2022, we celebrate Queensland Ballet’s ambitions and bold vision for the future, which is why at the end of these incredible 10 years, it has not been a difficult decision to renew my directorship of this beautiful Company.” said Mr Li.
“My life changed the day I walked into Queensland Ballet as its fifth Artistic Director. This journey has enriched my life and offered so much fulfilment and joy, as well as the inevitable challenges that have taught me so much. Ultimately though, it’s the people I have met along the way, the people who have believed in this journey of ours and ultimately, it’s their faith that continues to inspire me every day to dream fearlessly.
“In this unmissable Season, we celebrate our incredibly talented dancers, our students, our teams in production, wardrobe, artistic and business, and our venues and orchestra partners, all of whom collaborate each day to produce this magic that keeps us all on our toes,” Mr Li added.
The first show for Brisbane audiences is Giselle, a tale of supernatural passion, vengeance and the power of love which has held audiences spellbound since its Parisian premiere 150 years ago.
“Audiences will experience love, betrayal and tragic redemption in this timeless Romantic ballet complete with exquisite choreography, luminous costumes and enchanting score. But one of the most exciting elements of this season is that it opens in Toowoomba and tours regionally before landing in Brisbane. This echoes the journey that Giselle undertook in my first season in 2013, so it’s wonderful to retrace those steps.” said Mr Li.
“In June, I’m thrilled to unveil our triple bill, Li’s Choice, featuring three personal picks including We Who Are Left by QB Resident Choreographer Natalie Weir, Glass Concerto by QB Chief Ballet Master Greg Horsman and the lively ragtime ballet Elite Syncopations by Sir Kenneth MacMillan.
“I’m certain these works will captivate and inspire you as dramatic contemporary, neo-classical and ragtime ballet collide in this exhilarating triple-bill,” Mr Li added.
In July, QB celebrates the opening of our Thomas Dixon Centre’s new theatre with its fifth season of Bespoke. Featuring works by Australian choreographers Greg Horsman, Petros Treklis and Stephanie Lake, audiences will delight in three world premieres that explore the vibrant world of contemporary dance.
“Bespoke offers a sublime merging of classical technique with emotional depth that will lure audiences out of the traditional theatre space and into an intriguing dimension of artistic possibility,” said Mr Li.
“Also at the Thomas Dixon Centre, we will welcome both the young and young at heart as we finally raise the curtain on our ballet for children, Peter and the Wolf.
“After two years of disruptions and postponements due to COVID-19, we are absolutely thrilled to see this symphonic fairytale about a young boy’s courageous adventures brought to life through delightful choreography and the iconic score by Sergei Prokofiev.”
In September, audiences will be treated to two special guest character artists in Sir Kenneth Macmillan’s Manon.
In this iconic tale of seduction, ambition and greed, Mr Li and QB Ballet Mistress Mary Li will grace the stage in character roles. The couple fell in love while dancing together at the Houston Ballet with their story told in Li’s acclaimed biography Mao’s Last Dancer and Mary’s own retelling in Mary’s Last Dance.
“QB is one of the elite companies in the world with permission to perform Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s version of Manon. It’s a real honour to be part of this Season on-stage as well as behind the scenes. Monsieur G is one male leading role I haven’t performed in Manon so once again, this is a dream come true and I’m thrilled that Mary and I will be sharing this special experience with our audiences,” said Mr Li.
In August, audiences will witness a showcase of youthful artistry and dazzling skill for the Queensland Ballet Academy Gala. Demonstrating technical finesse and exquisite artistry, the Academy Gala features professionally trained young dancers as they master performance and passion in a dazzling display of classical and contemporary dance.
“In 2022, I’m thrilled to officially launch our new partnership with the Gold Coast’s Home of The Arts (HOTA), which will see QB grace the stage with three performances of The Sleeping Beauty in February and then, in November, a mixed bill featuring Christopher Bruce’s Rooster and Jack Lister’s B-Sides.
“With music by the Rolling Stones and Nina Simone, this mixed-bill will transcend audiences into the swinging 60s. Brimming with infectious energy, humour and toe-tapping rhythm, Rooster is an ironic look at male chauvinism that will leave Gold Coast audiences wanting more.”
The swinging 60s theme continues in Lister’s B-Sides, with its fusion of colourful kitsch and seamless contemporary choreography.
“Finally, what season would be complete at Queensland Ballet without our annual festive tradition The Nutcracker,” said Mr Li.
“There’s something magical about bringing families together. It warms my heart to see our community include us in their own festive traditions,” he added.
“For QB, 2022 is going to be a memorable year of celebration and growth, and we hope this Season reflects our bold ambitions for the future.
“This year, we officially open the doors of our redeveloped Thomas Dixon Centre, a world-class performing arts facility that will not only be transformative for QB, but for our wider arts industry and community.
“I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the Queensland Government, Queensland Ballet Board, our corporate partners and all of our visionary donors who dream fearlessly with us. Without their support, Queensland Ballet would not be the renowned company it is today.
“It has been a challenging two years, but we look to 2022 with hope and anticipation, eager to reunite with our beloved audiences and invite new audiences to share in the irresistible magic that is ballet.”
(In chronological order)
The Sleeping Beauty | 25 – 26 February | Theatre 1, HOTA
Experience a special night under the starry skies as we tour our exquisite box office-breaking fairytale The Sleeping Beauty to Gold Coast’s Home of the Arts (HOTA). Queensland Ballet’s most successful ballet of all time visits HOTA for the first time in 2022, weaving the magic of true love’s kiss throughout this incredible outdoor theatre after a hugely popular 2021 Brisbane season. Intertwined with Marius Petipa’s renowned original 1890s choreography and accompanied by the exquisite Tchaikovsky score, Greg Horsman’s two-act retelling will sweep you away to a land of enchanted forests, kings and queens, and charismatic creatures that creep, crawl, flit and flutter.
Giselle | 3-16 March 2022 | Regional Tour
Giselle | 14 – 23 April 2022 | Playhouse, QPAC
Experience love, envy, betrayal, and tragic redemption in the quintessential Romantic ballet, Giselle. First performed in Paris, France in 1841, this Romantic-era masterpiece is set in an ethereal realm where vengeful spirits dance in the darkness, and love triangles can be deadly. Follow the story of the young peasant girl Giselle, and her death by a broken heart. In the twilight world of the Wilis, will she follow the dark path of revenge or save her true love from certain death? With exquisite choreography, luminous costumes, and an enchanting score, Giselle has held audiences spellbound since its Parisian première more than 150 years ago.
Li’s Choice | 10 – 25 June 2022 | Playhouse, QPAC
Be captivated by this trio of extraordinary works by Natalie Weir, Greg Horsman, and Sir Kenneth MacMillan, hand-selected by Li Cunxin. Acclaimed Australian choreographer Natalie Weir, known internationally for her highly physical partner work and organic movement style, showcases her deeply emotive war-themed work We Who Are Left. Glass Concerto, by renowned international choreographer Greg Horsman, captures the pulse and escalating intensity of the brilliant music of Philip Glass in this neo-classical masterpiece. And in a fervour of dazzling colour and high energy, ragtime ballet Elite Syncopations by Sir Kenneth MacMillan is, quite simply, entertainment at its best.
Peter and the Wolf | 24 June – 2 July 2022 | Thomas Dixon Centre
Follow the courageous young scout Peter on an adventure to the zoo in this symphonic fairytale ballet designed for families. Children of all ages, along with parents and grandparents, will enjoy a lesson in musical appreciation, as orchestral instruments accompany the dancers in a much-loved story about Peter, a rascally wolf, an unlucky duck, and a graceful bird. Composed as an introduction to the orchestra for children, the lively production fits perfectly with Queensland Ballet’s My First Ballet Series, inspiring the littlest of ballet lovers.
Bespoke | 20 –30 July 2022 | Thomas Dixon Centre
Explore the vibrant world of contemporary dance in a thrilling new season of Queensland Ballet’s Bespoke. Now in its fourth year, this striking triple bill of modern dance offers audiences an opportunity to witness elite ballet dancers in dynamic contemporary spaces. In celebration of the opening of our new theatre at the heritage-listed Thomas Dixon Centre, for this year’s Bespoke, renowned Australian choreographers Greg Horsman, Petros Treklis, and Stephanie Lake have collaborated with dancers and artists to create three compelling new pieces of innovative storytelling, using visual art, music, and the depths of human emotion as elements of inspiration.
Queensland Ballet Academy Gala | 12 – 14 August 2022 | Thomas Dixon Centre
Don’t miss the rising stars of dance in this compelling showcase of outstanding talent by Queensland Ballet’s esteemed Academy. Demonstrating technical finesse and exquisite artistry, the annual Queensland Ballet Academy Gala features our professionally-trained young dancers as they master performance and passion in a dazzling display of classical and contemporary dance. Audiences will enjoy a program of inspiring classical pieces and dynamic contemporary works by renowned international and local choreographers. Performed by dancers at the beginning of their bright careers, this exciting program will be presented for the first time at Queensland Ballet’s heritage home, the newly-redeveloped Thomas Dixon Centre.
Manon | 28 Sept – 8 Oct 2022| Lyric Theatre, QPAC
Li Cunxin AO and Mary Li performance dates | 29 September, 4 and 6 October 2022
Journey from decadent 18th century Paris to sultry New Orleans with this blockbuster classical ballet about possession, desire, and the allure of wealth. Renowned as one of Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s most iconic works, Manon is a quintessential romantic tragedy, following the tale of a young French peasant girl conflicted by love and a yearning to be free from poverty. From seduction, ambition, and greed to the persuasive power of love, this sumptuous story has been captivating audiences for more than two centuries. Queensland Ballet is one of only a handful of ballet companies across the world with permission to perform Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s version of Manon – don’t miss it!
Rooster & B-Sides | 10 – 12 November 2022 | Outdoor Stage, HOTA
Travel back to the joyous fun of the 60s with this celebration of energetic choreography and hit pop and rock music in Christopher Bruce’s Rooster and Jack Lister’s B-Sides. Full of humour, infectious energy and toe-tapping tunes – including music by the Rolling Stones Christopher Bruce’s Rooster is an ironic look at male chauvinism, with strutting dancers in vibrant period-era costumes that will have audiences bopping in their seats. The swinging 60s theme continues in B-Sides by Jack Lister with its fusion of colourful kitsch and seamless contemporary choreography. An exploration of relationships and identity to a recording of hit 60s pop songs, this piece will captivate audiences with its engaging effervescence.
The Nutcracker | 2 – 23 December 2022 | Playhouse, QPAC
Whisk the entire family away this festive season to a magical Christmas Eve party where snowflakes flutter, fireplaces crackle, and enchanted toys come alive to frolic and play in The Nutcracker. It’s Christmas Eve and when the clock strikes twelve, nothing is as it seems! Follow Clara and the Nutcracker Prince as they journey across a Lemonade Sea to the Kingdom of Sweets, for a midnight rendezvous of delectable delights and enchanting entertainment. This cherished Queensland Ballet holiday tradition returns to Brisbane for its ninth spell-binding season. Wonderfully whimsical, The Nutcracker is perfect for the whole family.