QLD Ballet 1996 tour Poster Rep

The Queensland Ballet (USA Tour)

Australia’s oldest professional ballet company embarked on its first-ever U.S. tour of 26 cities in the fall of 1996 performing Pirates! The BalletA Midsummer Night’s Dream and Scheherazade in repertory by the Queensland Ballet, one of only three full-time, professional classical ballet companies in Australia. Artistic Director of the company was Harold Collins MBE.

Harold Collins MBE Queensland BalletIn 1996, to prove to the world there was more classical ballet vitality from down under than just the Australian Ballet, I encouraged and cajoled my friend Gary McAvay at Columbia Artists Management (CAMI) to present the Queensland Ballet tour, as a thank-you to Harold Collins MBE. I had the pleasure of working with Harold on a couple of Queensland Theatre Company productions prior, he was a true dancers director, resulting in a long time friendship.

Gary McAvay, John Luckacovic and many at CAMI stepped up, and did a great job presenting the Queensland Ballet, raising its international profile exponentially and giving the Queensland Ballet pride of global place, which resulted in future work in the USA.

I voluntarily eliminated my fee with CAMI and negotiated a sponsorship deal for international air tickets to reduce CAMI’s costs to make the tour financially feasible.

Pirates 1996 Qld Ballet Tour photo 02 Dale JohnsonPirates! The Ballet

Choreographed by Daryl Gray, orchestrations by Henry Aronson and design by Christopher Smith.   Starring Josef Vesely as Frederic;  Dione Ware as Mabel; Anthony Lewis as the Sergeant of Police; Anthony Shearsmith as Major General Stanley; Benita Whalley as Ruth the Nurse; Julian Lankshear as the Pirate King, supported by singers Geoffrey Ashenden, Celia Mylne, Mark Penman and Susan Lorette Dunn.

The world premiere took place at the Suncorp Theatre in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, on 12 April 1991. The Queensland Ballet performed the revised work in 1996, following which the company took it on an extended tour to the United States presented by Columbia Artists Management.

It was a comic ballet adapted from Gilbert and Sullivans Savoy Opera The Pirates of Penzance. At the time, the only known ballet version of Penzance. The plot is the same as in the light opera, and the music uses the same arrangements of Arthur Sullivans original music. After the music begins, an usher leads four people on stage as they loudly discuss mundane matters. As the audience begins showing its irritation, the people are seated as an onstage audience. During the ballet, these 4 people are revealed as opera singers and sing part of the original score of Pirates, sometimes using new lyrics, as the dancers act out the story incorporating ballet, tap, hip-hop and funk steps, and the singers interact with the pirates and police at times.

Brave and Jolly Pirates of Queensland

It takes a brave choreographer and an even braver dance company to produce a three-act narrative ballet these days, though there are signs of a return to such elaborate fare. It takes an even braver choreographer to set a work to the music of Gilbert and Sullivan. Daryl Gray matches that deadly jolly duo joke for joke and beat for beat. But Mr. Gray’s “Pirates! The Ballet,” is also enjoyably giddy and a compelling introduction to a very charming ballet company.The New York Times

Midsummer Nights Dream 1996 Qld Ballet Tour photo Shane Weatherby as PuckA Midsummer Night’s Dream

by Harold Collins.  Directed and Designed by Christopher Smith.  Starring Shane Weatherby as Puck; Anthony Shearsmith as Thisbe; Michelle Giammichele as Titania; Anthony Lewis as Oberon; Natalie Hammond as Helena; Victoria Hollyman as Hermia; Paul Boyd as Lysander; Julian Lankshear as Demetrius.

In this one-act version, although it followed Shakespeare’s plot in essence, there were unconventional modern touches such as a newspaper displaying headlines for a royal wedding.

Scheherazade 1996 Qld Ballet Tour photo Rosetta Cook Martin MichelScheherazade

Michel Fokine Scheherazade by Jacqui Carroll; Directed by François Klaus; Designed by Mike Bridges and Lighting by David Whitworth. Starring Dione Ware as Scheherazade; Paul Boyd as The Traveller and Anthony Lewis as the Lead Warrior.

Scheherazade is about the erotic carryings-on in a shah’s palace. Fokine’s work was created for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes in 1910, but the Queensland Ballet’s version follows a different, more idealized trek: that of a traveler seeking an ideal love. He lives through a storm at sea, then lands among warriors, gypsies, and what would appear to be a sort of “Leading Warrior” ‘s harem, at last encountering a “dream/nightmare world.” As the choreographer’s notes conclude, these “finally lead him to the Garden of Eden” finding his dream girl.

the Queensland Ballet is absolutely packed with dance talent
— New York Post dance critic, Clive Barnes 

Pirates! The Ballet
A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Pirates 1996 Qld Ballet Tour photo 01Pirates 1996 Qld Ballet Tour photo 02 Dale Johnson Midsummer Nights Dream 1996 Qld Ballet Tour photo Shane Weatherby as Puck Midsummer Nights Dream 1996 Qld Ballet Tour photo Lissome fairies Scheherazade 1996 Qld Ballet Tour photo Rosetta Cook Martin Michel QLD Ballet 1996 tour Poster Rep Qld Ballet Scheherazade (1986 Tour) ad QB Ballet Review LA Times all QB Ballet Review LA Times Pirates QB Ballet Review NY Times Pirates QB Ballet Review Dance Diary NY

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