Shakespeare takes a new form thanks to the art of ballet.
Queensland Ballet (QB) bring 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' to Melbourne, transforming the humorous and timeless story of love, jealousy and mistaken identity into a choreographic feast for the eyes.
Here, Queensland Ballet Artistic Director Li Cunxin reveals more.
This is the first time Queensland Ballet has toured to Melbourne since you've become the Artistic Director! What are you most excited about?
I’m delighted to be returning to Melbourne. Melbourne was the first Australian city that opened its arms to me as a young dancer, and I lived in the city for many years. I still have a lot of wonderful friends and colleagues in Melbourne so it’s very special to be bringing Queensland Ballet to perform. I’m also really proud that the Company will be performing Liam’s Scarlett’s 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream'. I’m incredibly proud of our dancers, their technical prowess and their artistry is sublime. Melbourne audiences are very culturally savvy and love dance so I’m looking forward to showcasing our dancers in this production. It will be the premiere performance of this ballet in Melbourne, so it’s a wonderful chance for people to see something new.
What is most important to you about bringing this show down south?
Melbourne is the city I first danced in in Australia. It was my first Australian home and it’s a city that appreciates ballet at its finest. So I know the audience is going to appreciate this production. I’m looking forward to showcasing the work of Liam Scarlett who is himself, an internationally-acclaimed choreographer. His production of 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream' is captivating. It transcends cultural barriers and highlights the wonderful versatility and technical ability of our dancers.
Image © David Kelly
And what is important to you in terms of your role in this company?
As Artistic Director I believe my role is to inspire, challenge and lead our Company as we work towards our goals and aspirations together. It’s a privilege to help create the right vision for the Company and to determine our artistic focus as we move forward. We certainly have global aspirations as a ballet company, we continually aspire to present world-class productions by the best Australian and international choreographers and dancers. I see one of the most important parts of my role is to identify talent and to allow those talented individuals to find the opportunities to thrive, to continually reach further and dream bigger. I also see my role is to showcase this beautiful art form to its full potential and to find opportunities through which ballet can inspire positive social impact.
Where do you hope to take Queensland Ballet in the future?
Actually, we have just officially announced our tour to China. After we present 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream' in Melbourne we will also take the company on to Shanghai, Suzhou, Beijing and Xi’an, we are all so excited to take the Company to China. To help Queensland Ballet grow into a global company we are building a new state of the art building. The new premises will be unrivalled in terms of design and facilities it will offer the Company. It will help us reach our vision of expanding the Company and taking ballet to the world stage. The new building will have a world class wellness centre for dancers, community spaces, more rehearsal and dancer studios and spaces and will include a theatre. As a Company we are committed to building new pathways for young talent in the state. We are currently expanding the Queensland Ballet Academy, with the help of the State Government we are building an elite training facility to attract young dancers from all over the world to study in Australia and enrich the pool of talent not just for Queensland but for all of Australia.
Image © David Kelly
Since becoming Artistic Director, what is your biggest achievement?
I would have to say bringing together a cohesive group of remarkably talented individuals is my greatest achievement. By that I mean not just the dancers, but the artistic staff and business staff of Queensland Ballet. It is the most wonderful group of people I have ever worked with. The whole QB team has contributed to the success story of our Company. As a company we have seen phenomenal growth in the last 6 years, we regularly sell out seasons prior to opening night and attract talent from all over the world.
Why do you think Melbourne audiences will love ‘A Midsummer Night's Dream'?
'A Midsummer Night’s Dream' is a beautiful and innovative ballet. From the moment you step inside the theatre it takes you on a magical journey. Liam Scarlett is an incredible talent, his gift for bringing stories to life through music and movement is extraordinary and our dancers could not be more thrilled to be performing his work. It’s a fun and uplifting ballet, it takes you on a whimsical journey, it’s a perfect ballet to enjoy for young and old.
Image © David Kelly
This is a work originally by Shakespeare now being presented in ballet form. What can audiences expect to see here?
'A Midsummer Night’s Dream' is one of Shakespeare’s masterpieces and Liam Scarlett has transformed the magical story into an innovative ballet it has been acclaimed by audiences and critics alike. It’s an immersive experience, from the moment the curtain rises the audience is immediately among the forest filled with nymphs and fairies and lost in the story. Together with Mendelssohn’s evocative music, Scarlett’s witty choreography brings the magical, humorous and timeless story of love, jealousy and mistaken identities to life.
Tease the show to us with a Shakespeare line?
'I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was'.