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The Creative Issue – News for Creatives | July 25, 2021

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Queensland Ballet Dancin' in the rain at Riverstage

Queensland Ballet Dancin’ in the rain at Riverstage
Claire Matthews

Ballet fans and families flocked to Riverstage last Saturday for an evening of free entertainment (and rain!) in Queensland Ballet on the Lawn.

We arrived in the golden sunset, with plenty of time to check in and find a space on the grassy knoll to park our picnic blanket. Around the perimeter of the Riverstage area were food trucks offering paella, pizza, chips, burgers, and more.

Artistic Director Li Cunxin and Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner walked onstage and launched the event. The first half of the program featured highlights from Queensland Ballet’s recent 60th Anniversary Gala, this time on an outdoor stage and accompanied by a light drizzle.

Yanela Piñera and Joe Chapman performed the Chopin pas de deux, choreographed by Charles Lisner OBE. This dance was enjoyable to watch, as Yanela and Joe danced with such beautiful expression and intimate connection.

Then, Neneka Yoshida and Joel Woellner danced the pas de deux from Cloudland. Choreographed by François Klaus, this dance painted a scene of post-war Brisbane and its iconic ballroom. Neneka and Joel evoked longing and nostalgia.

Next was the haunting finale from The Little Mermaid, choreographed by François Klaus. The company dancers depicted spirits of the sea, dancing together with a sense of transcendence. Their white costumes glowed in the growing darkness.

Lucy Green and Victor Estévez performed the pas de deux from Don Quixote with Spanish flair. They took turns doing competitive leaps, twirls and endless pirouettes to the rapid beat. There was a sudden rush for ponchos and raincoats as the skies burst open and the rain came pelting down. The dancers bravely kept dancing until interval.

The second half was meant to showcase a selection of solos from 60 Dancers: 60 Stories, choreographed by dancers last year during lockdown. The rain began driving in at an angle and hitting the stage. As for the audience, we were soaked through. Li Cunxin came onstage, in his plastic poncho, and called off the rest of the show for the safety of the dancers.

We waded back through the gardens and into the uni campus. The pathways flowed like rivers. We huddled under the buildings, waiting for the rain to ease. Finally, we got to the carpark and could shake ourselves dry. What a fun night!