Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Queensland Ballet's La Sylphide - Why it is so special

In Looking Forward to 2015 - My Choices 29 Dec 2014 I singled out the Queensland Ballet's La Sylphide as one of the likely highlights for 2015. I bought my ticket for the show nearly a year ago.

I did so for three reasons.  The first and most important is that La Sylphide is one of the oldest and most beautiful ballets in the modern repertoire but it is one that is performed relatively rarely in this country and much less frequently than Giselle. As I wrote in December:
"La Sylphide is not a ballet that we see very often in this country which is strange because it is set in Scotland. It is much less creepy that Giselle though it does have a witch and sylphs. The costumes are gorgeous: colourful tartan for the men and flowing white romantic tutus for the women. Løvenskjold's score is not quite as well known as Adam's but it is not bad. This year we shall have a taster when principals and soloists of the Royal Danish Ballet visit the Peacock on the 9 and 10 Jan 2015 and then the real McCoy in August when the Queensland Ballet come to the Coliseum."
I saw the Danes when they were in London and my appetite for this show was well and truly whetted by them (see Royal Danish Ballet Soloists and Principals in celebration of Bournonville 11 Jan 2015). For those who don't know the story or history of the ballet there is a useful synopsis  and history on the Queensland Ballet's website. It is worth mentioning that this is the first ballet in which dancing on pointe was incorporated into the choreography (see Wikipedia).

The second reason why I look forward to this show is that the Artistic Director of the Queensland Ballet is Li Cunxin. This remarkable man has excelled n two careers: first as a dancer and artistic director and, secondly, as a stockbroker. A story of his life has been made into the film Mao's Last Dancer  which I saw earlier this year. Li Cunxin will be the guest of the London Ballet Circle on the 3 Aug 2915.

My third reason is a personal one and that this is the company of the teacher who coaxed me back to ballet many years after my last ballet lesson.  As I wrote in Looking Forward to 2015 - My Choices:
"The visit of the Queensland Ballet excites me for another reason. My dear ballet teacher Fiona Noonan, who put me on my feet with ballercise and then coaxed me into ballet just over 2 years ago, trained in Brisbane. She demands the best from her students and we strive to give it to her though I fear I do not always succeed. The name of the company's ballet school - the Queensland Dance School of Excellence - typifies its aspiration."
I am very grateful to Fiona Noonan for raising my confidence and technique to the level that I could contemplate taking classes with Annemarie Donoghue at Northern Ballet two years ago.  I still take Fiona's classes at Huddersfield University most Wednesday evenings.  Taking up ballet again very late in life has been an enormous comfort to me over the last few years.

I hope that the Queensland Ballet enjoys its season at the Coliseum and that they will return regularly and frequently. I also hope that Li Cunxin gets a good audience for his talk on 3 Aug.  It will take place at the Civil Service Club in Great Scotland Yard at 19:30 on 3 Aug 2015. The Club is close to Embankment and Charing Cross underground stations. It is next door to the Nigerian embassy which is a good landmark if you come from Northumberland Avenue.

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