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The Creative Issue – News for Creatives | August 3, 2021

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Queensland Ballet's 60th Anniversary: Retired Dancers Return

Queensland Ballet’s 60th Anniversary: Retired Dancers Return
Claire Matthews

Retired dancers, Hao Bin and Meng Ningning, will return to the stage for Queensland Ballet’s 60th Anniversary Gala, at QPAC from 8-11 October 2020 .

Tucked away in a West End cul-de-sac, the Queensland Ballet studios are ripe and bursting with life, as dancers prepare for their upcoming 60th Anniversary Gala. 

It’s a full-on rehearsal schedule in the lead-up to the 10-show performance program, which will feature guest artists, excerpts from favourite works and tributes to former directors. 

Dancers young and old, emerging and seasoned professional, pulled on pointe shoes and leotards in the crowded studios on Friday and waited for the music to start. 

The Creative Issue found a quiet corner in an empty studio, with barres and floor-to-ceiling mirrors, for a chat to former QB principals Hao Bin and Meng Ningning. TCI: Tell us some highlights of your time with QB?
Hao Bin: There are many. Our first experience dancing with QB was in 2011, when we performed in the international gala as solo artists. We were under artistic director François Klaus, and that was the first time we performed for a Brisbane audience. Later, we were lucky to have the director Li Cunxin. He brought lots of money, starting productions and programs, etc.

I think all the performances were quite enjoyable, but the especially the ones we performed together in, like Cinderella and Romeo and Juliet. I think we felt we were at the peak of our ability as dancers during that time, so we considered this to be our favourite time performing.

Meng Ningning: Yes, Cinderella, definitely.

TCI: What was it like to be recognised as principal dancers at QB?

HB: We both came to be principal dancers of National Ballet of China before we came to QB. It was an amazing feeling, because you were recognised by the country as well as the audience for your dancing.

TCI: What path led you to QB?

HB: We were invited by François in 2011, as guest artists. We also danced in the 2010 International Gala. When we came here, we just loved QB as a company, and all the dancers were multicultural, which was new for us.

MN: We loved the city, Brisbane. The people here are so nice.
TCI: What impact did QB have on your journeys as dancers?
HB: When we joined QB, we were more experienced, more mature, and at the peak condition of our performance. So, I think we were more confident during the performance and giving the message to the audience more clearly.

TCI: What changes have you seen at QB?

HB: I think the company is just getting bigger and bigger, compared to when we were here. So, lots of new faces. When we came back, we didn’t know anyone. They’ve got more productions, so they need more dancers, and it’s just still getting bigger.

QB produces a new production each year. We are lucky to have been part of their long history and to have this opportunity to dance in this gala. QB is a very vibrant and really strong company, both in Australia and the world.
TCI: Are you excited to get back on stage?
HB: We are honoured to be dancing again. We were invited by Li Cunxin for this 60th Gala, so we’re just getting back into dancing. This feels absolutely great. You feel your body and mind have returned as a dancer, and all your memories of your dancing career come back. We’re bringing back François’ magic next week.

MN: We were really happy to be asked back and to be able to come back. And, also, that the director, Li Cunxin, believes that we are still able to go on stage. We’re nervous!

TCI: What do you enjoy in François Klaus’ Cloudland, pas de deux?

HB: We’re just in our own world, able to express ourselves. It’s basically just the two of us. I think this pas de deux is really emotional. We love to use lots of emotion in our dancing, more detail in the story. This pas de deux gives us lots of space to express ourselves.

MN: I like the closeness with Hao, moving together. I also play some piano, which is new for me. We’re so excited to get back on stage.

Meng Ningning laced up her shoes and started stretching on the floor. The pianist arrived.

Any shyness faded as Hao Bin and Meng Ningning stepped into their element, and danced together.

After watching them rehearse with elegance and grace in the studio, I know Queensland Ballet’s 60th Anniversary Gala is not to be missed.

The Details:

What: Queensland Ballet’s 60th Anniversary Gala
When: 8-11 October 7:30/1:30
Where: Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Southbank, Brisbane
How much: $115
Updates and tickets here.

Read about Hao Bin and Meng Ningning’s performance of Romeo & Juliet here.

Photos: David Kelly, supplied.