Queensland Ballet Wonderland for François Klaus’s Final Year

Ballet is a dance executed by the human soul*

The fragility and beauty of the ballet far belies the actual toughness, and total commitment a dancer has to have if they are to succeed in this the most demanding of all performance art professions. Frenchman François Klaus had a great deal of international experience as a principal dancer before arriving in Australia in 1997 to become the Artistic Director and Choreographer of the Queensland Ballet.  He had the enviable opportunity of being able to study under John Cranko, choreographer for the Sadler’s Wells Ballet at London and the Stuttgart Ballet, who is one of the great legends of modern dance. Klaus in his own innovative way, is still producing sensational works that showcase his team of very talented dancers. Despite it being his final year at the helm he has lost none of his passion or the commitment he is renowned for, or his way of imagining the future of this very talented ballet company. Presently the company is camped out in Wonderland, that magical place where Alice fell down a hole in the ground and found herself having all sorts of incredible adventures, as well as meeting a white rabbit wearing a top hat that is always running out of, and to time.

This production has been extremely popular. It is all about the pleasures of the imagination. It is wonderful family entertainment, just the ballet for parents to introduce their children to the world of dance, where dreams can come true. Based on Lewis Carroll’s much-loved children’s books, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, François Klaus choreography for this piece showcases his dancer’s technique and style brilliantly, so it is exceptional.

So that children will understand what is taking place on stage, prior to the performance actor and dancer Dan Crestani, tells the story of Alice in the Playhouse foyer. The many colourful characters from Wonderland are completely captivating, brimful of wit, humour and charm and the costumes well they are exciting, beautifully rendered and then there is the very clever make up.

Applying stage makeup is a specialist art. Basically for a ballet a specialist designs the make up and then the dancers are taught to apply it themselves. It is an expected essential part of any dancer’s skill-set. Throughout the performance the creator then only has to keep tabs to ensure that the dancers don’t lose sight of the original intent.

The fabulous characters in François Klaus’s Alice in Wonderland have very specific make-up, designed by Richard Jeziorny (who also designed the sets and costumes).

It was a great help to the Queensland Ballet dancers to be coached in make-up application for their individual characters by Chloe Turner and Vicky Hullar, both artisans from their corporate partner, M.A.C. Cosmetics.

These skilled practitioners offered advice on how to re-create the detailed designs for all of the characters in Alice, including the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, the King and Queen of Hearts and Walrus.

The power of dance is both transformative and life changing; not only for those performing, but also for the audience. This year the Queensland Ballet has some special performances on the program agenda.

Following Alice will be every dancer’s dream performance, Don Quixote. Klaus’s take on this legendary story by the Spanish poet and playwright Miguel de Cervantes (1547 – 1616) will be sure to be inventive and charged with high emotion.

The story itself was filmed brilliantly by the late great Rudolph Nureyev, Lucette Aldous and the late great Sir Robert Helpmann as Don Quixote with the Australian Ballet in 1972, and it is full of illusion, memorable scenes and dancing.

The audience is transported to another world where chivalrous deeds, glory in battle, and true romance all happen as an ageing Don, whom dreams constantly of grand exploits, falls for the beautiful Dulcinea.

This sensational ballet has stirring music, spirited choreography and it is a feast for both the eye and heart as well as being a panacea for the soul.

François Klaus will be ending his tenure at the Queensland Ballet by holding an International Gala, A Classic Celebration and finally, Fairy Tales: Stories of Hans Christian Andersen for the Xmas season.

He is sure to leave this company that he has loved and guided so well,  in a good place when, at the end of the year he moves on to other international experiences.

Li Cunxin, who has already gained legendary status in the world of ballet and literature, will ably guide the dancers in his place.

Queensland Ballet – Francois Klaus Final Season

Alice in Wonderland
Don Quixote
International Gala 2012
A Classical Celebration
Fairy Tales: Stories of Hans Christian Andersen

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Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle 2012

* Russian poet and writer of the romantic era Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837)

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