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The Creative Issue – News for Creatives | December 5, 2021

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Queensland Ballet’s Bespoke Celebrates Contemporary Dance

Queensland Ballet’s Bespoke Celebrates Contemporary Dance
Claire Matthews

Queensland Ballet’s Bespoke presents a dynamic collection of contemporary dance portraits that challenge expectations of ballet.

Held from 8-17 October at the QUT Gardens Theatre, Bespoke brings together four world premieres by four local choreographers. Natalie Weir, Rani Luther, Jack Lister and Paul Boyd share their new works in an intimate and immersive setting.

Told through an innovative lens, the program explores narratives of travel, migration, history, love and even, wrestling. Bespoke pushes the boundaries of ballet as an artform, discovering new possibilities.

On Thursday, I had the chance to attend Bespoke’s opening night. The distinctive music and bright costumes quickly established that we weren’t in for classical ballet like Swan Lake.

Paul Boyd’s Caravanserai stitched together many Eastern musical styles, creating a tapestry of language, sound and expression. Dressed in flowing orange, the dancers evoked merchants and travellers on a journey along the Silk Road. Performed by Queensland Ballet Academy’s Pre-Professional dancers, Caravanserai carried audiences away.

Then, a dramatic spotlight fell on a lone figure, sitting on a chair. As he began to move, another dancer appeared behind him, acting as his shadow. In Natalie Weir’s Fallen, we watched a man journey through turmoil. This work was performed by QB’s Jette Parker Young Artists. The corps de ballet reflected his conflicting emotions, pushing and pulling him in different directions. A dancer dressed in red represented his lost love. Inspired by poems of a traveller venturing into the wintry wilderness, Fallen was a deeply moving work.

After interval, Jack Lister’s Mind Your Head certainly shook things up. Ballet, romance, drama and wrestling collided. The dancers stood in a boxing ring, in lurid punk-rock costumes. Dramatic snap blackouts gave the sense of moving through a series of scenes and fights. Set to frantic jazz music with screaming saxophones, Mind Your Head was ballet like never before.

In contrast, the final piece, Rani Luther’s From. To. Here. was a meditation on migration. It depicted everyday people undergoing great geographical and emotional journeys. The dancers wore a corporate uniform of singlets and slacks (no tutus). The music was composed by Robert Davidson and recorded by Camerata – Queensland’s Chamber Orchestra.

Bespoke was the perfect way to experience the latest innovations in contemporary dance. Queensland Ballet demonstrated versatility in their dancing and storytelling.

Bespoke is running until 17 October, and on again next year. Find out more about Queensland Ballet’s 2022 season here.

The Details:
What: Queensland Ballet’s Bespoke
When: 8-17 October 2021
Where: QUT Gardens Theatre, Brisbane
Tickets/ more info: Here.

Photos by David Kelly.