#Memories from our Queensland Ballet family
"Towards the end of February 1961 we set off on a marathon fourteen-thousand-kilometre tour of Queensland and New South Wales, travelling in a massive semi-trailer, unlovingly referred to as ‘the monster’. It carried ten crumpled, badly shaken passengers, all our scenery, costumes, lighting equipment and sound system over what must surely have been some of the worst roads in the world."
- Charles Lisner OBE
"I remember trying to convince Lady Deborah MacMillan to let us perform the infamous "MacMillan Romeo & Juliet". I told her I'd like to use one of Kenneth's works and she asked, 'which ballet do you have in mind?'. When I told her, she nearly fainted. She said 'but you don't have enough dancers! How many do you have?' I told her about 35 and I promised her that we would have enough by the time Queensland Ballet performed it. She finally agreed and said, 'If you ever mess up Li, you'll never do another Kenneth work!' It was a fabulous production. She was very pleased but still to this day says 'You lied to me, Li. You only had 25 dancers!'"
- Li Cunxin AO.
"I stand as a shadowy figure atop the stairs in the final moments of Liam Scarlett’s “No Man’s Land”. I look down to my partner, the exquisite Laura Hidalgo, and watch her back quiver as she represses her tears, embodying the turmoil of not having one’s lover return home from war. As I walk slowly down the stairs, a singular piano fills the theatre, and whilst there are hundreds of eyes set upon us, in this moment it feels as though we are completely alone. The ensuing pas de deux is one of absolute abandonment and pure ecstasy. Sharing this with Laura is the most free I have ever had the privilege to feel on stage. It is a moment I know we both will never forget." - Rian Thompson
"Being a Season ticket holder for many years, it was decided to treat my family with 2 granddaughters to a Christmas performance of “The Nutcracker Suite”. My youngest was about 5 years old and so excited to be going to the Ballet. The scene with the Mouse King fighting caught her imagination and she called out ‘ stop dancing and just sword fight!’ She then fell asleep (as we were from over the border and on DST) 20 minutes before the end of the show and bemoaned the fact for years! Fond memories."
- Jacqueline B. (Patron)
"My first experience of Queensland Ballet was when my daughter was in Year 11 at Loreto College, in 1992. She had tickets for the ballet as part of a scheme to introduce students to the arts. I was in the foyer of Suncorp Theatre, having driven her and her friends in from Cleveland, trying to find someone to ask what time I should come back to collect the girls. A lady asked me if I was interested in having a ticket that she had spare - in the front row! I eagerly accepted her gift, and attended the most wonderful night of ballet, and have been attending as often as I could ever since, with Season tickets for about the last 15 years. The company grows in strength every year and I really enjoy every performance." - Shirley M (Patron)
One of the fondest and most heart-warming memories for me would come from our Giselle season that we performed at the Home of the Arts theatre at the Gold Coast in late 2020. I had the privilege to perform beside Neneka and Joel in the titular roles of Giselle and Albrecht. This was our first full length ballet performed after COVID took hold of the world which already set us up to have a special performance. There must have been magic in the air that night as I have never felt so immerses and engrossed within a ballet performance. The connection I felt between everyone on stage, especially between Neneka and Joel who were just as committed to their characters, gave me the feeling of being transported into another world. I couldn’t help but wish that each moment we shared on stage would last forever and that the performance wouldn’t end. We all agreed that it was an exceptionally special show, and it will forever be a monumental highlight of my career! - D'Arcy Brazier (Company Artist)
"Fondest memory for me was going to ballet class in Elizabeth Street Brisbane. My amazing teacher was Mary Heath. Classes twice a week. It was pure joy even though I shed many tears as well. Ballet to me was definitely an important and happy time in my life."
- Linda S. (Patron)
Image Helen Booth and Kathleen Dorahy in the Studio, 1980.
"My long-time friend Trish and I have been subscribers to QB seasons since the 70s and the days of the SGIO Theatre ... through thick and thin. We have revelled in the growth and creative changes with each new Artistic Director and the technical development as dancers advance in the company and move on to international career opportunities. Viva Qld Ballet!!" - Sandy D. (Patron)
Image - Bouquet Garni 1975
It was 1969 & I had been an inaugural member of the Australian Ballet since 1962. Charles Lisner invited me to join Queensland Ballet. Swan Lake Act 2 & Nutcracker Pas De Deux were on the program & ballerina Elaine Fifield was to be Guest Artist That Season. I Was Asked to Alternate With Elaine. Robert O’Kell (Guest Artist from Australian Ballet) was to be our partner. As fate & fortune would have it Elaine was unable to travel due to an injury. It was a challenge to perform both ballets at every performance. Charles was a very encouraging director & he gave me an enormous opportunity to dance these roles. I was very nervous, petrified in fact, but I totally enjoyed this amazing experience. Our next
season was only 2 months later & I was absolutely thrilled to be dancing “Giselle” in my favourite ballet. Harold Collins was my Albrecht & Garth Welch was invited to stage the production. I received payment for my week of “Giselle” performances but all rehearsals were done for the Love of Dance. I had a wonderful time with Queensland Ballet & only left due to me opening my own ballet school. Congratulations Qb!
My favourite memory seems like a scene from a comedy movie when I look back. The Company was on a tour of western QLD and director Francois Klaus has a vision of a photo shoot near the beautiful bohab trees with the white unicorn for an article in the courier mail. We had a photographer (David Kelley) and a journalist travelling with us for a spread in the paper. Picture this. Me, dressed in top to toe white Lycra complete with a massive flowing hair mane and a decent sized horn on my head, Francois and David clambering over a barbed wire fence to capture the perfect light on a property an hour or so out of the nearest town. The only problem was that we hadn’t asked for permission to enter the private property and soon enough dust started stirring on the long dirt driveway. A few utes with farmers in hats ended up as spectators for the “Unicorn in the Trees” photo shoot after Francois used his delightful charm to beg the farmers to allow us to stay. There was a brief moment with a family of Emus on the main road where the brilliant David Kelly thought he could capture a great shot if I ran along the roadside, posing, which was an interesting experience for the one passing car. Needless to say, the photo in the trees of the unicorn on a farm in Australia, was stunning and ended up in the paper and is still one of my favourites.
Peggy van Praagh with dancers Roma Egan, Vanessa Mafe, Kitty Brown, Dale Johnston and Bruce Kronburger in the 1980's
Michelle McCormack observes Charles Lisner directing Lynette Sorrensen in class in 1965.
Jacqueline Pascoe, Terri-Lee Milne, Michelle Giammichele in the studio, 1990s.
Francois Klaus and Tamara Hanton in rehearsal.
Photography Ken Sparrow.