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Le Corsaire. Š Bolshoi Theatre, Damir Yusupov

Š Bolshoi Theatre, Damir Yusupov

QPAC International Series The QPAC International Series links Brisbane to the world’s greatest stages and feeds a growing desire to experience the preeminent ballet and orchestral performers of our time. The Series features an annual, exclusive presentation of some of the world’s finest performing arts companies and is focused in the fields of dance and classical music – specifically ballet companies and world orchestras. QPAC’s International Series is not only a way to share some of the world’s greatest companies with Australian audiences but equally it is a way to engage in a creative exchange between artistic communities from different countries. The Series is presented in partnership with Tourism and Events Queensland and has become one of the must-see events on the national performing arts calendar. In 2013, the QPAC International Series presented the Bolshoi Ballet, heralding the return to Australia of the mighty Moscow company for the first time in almost two decades. Since their first visit to Australia in 1959, the Bolshoi Ballet has enthralled audiences with both classical performances and ballets choreographed to the music by composers of the twentieth century. To celebrate its return to Australia, the company performed two magnificent ballets, both rarities, one representative of the 19th century imperial Russian classical tradition and the second a masterwork from the 20th century. It also marked a rare opportunity for ballet lovers across Queensland and the country, to see this glorious company perform.

Maria Alexandrova and Vladislav Lantratov, Le Corsaire . Lyric Theatre Stage. Photographer: Darren Thomas

Company history Widely considered as one of the premier ballet companies in the world, the Bolshoi Ballet is truly one of the great names in performing arts. It is the oldest and most famous theatre in Russia and Bolshoi simply means ‘big’. Founded in 1776, the Bolshoi Theatre is home to the ballet company of the same name. The Bolshoi Ballet has more than two hundred dancers, a renowned training school and is a company synonymous with scale, grandeur and the brilliant physicality of its dancers. In October 2011, the Bolshoi Theatre reopened in a blaze of international publicity after a six year renovation project costing over eight hundred million dollars. When the curtain went up, the audience saw a brilliant new company with a new energy and sensational young talent. It was as if this theatre, the physical embodiment of Russia’s pride in its culture was, like the glittering scarlet and gold theatre, born anew.

Cascade Court, QPAC. Photographer: Darren Thomas

Prelude In the months leading up to the Bolshoi Ballet’s arrival, a rich red tapestry slowly started to cloak Brisbane. From red lanterns to themed foyers, QPAC also prepared itself to celebrate all things Russian and ensure that the Bolshoi Ballet extended far beyond the majestic stage of the Lyric Theatre. From inside the building and out, QPAC staff attended to every detail to ensure that we were ready to welcome this remarkable company.

Photographer: Darren Thomas

Le Corsaire, Lyric Theatre Stage. Photographer: Darren Thomas

Arrival It takes an enormous effort to move a company of this scale from its home in Moscow, across 14,000 kilometres to arrive safely within QPAC’s theatre walls. Eight shipping containers carrying over 50 tonnes of freight spent two months at sea transporting handcrafted tutu’s, make-up, costuming and props and around four kilograms of rosin to ensure every dancer had a steady grip on stage. The Bolshoi Ballet included 154 people, making it one of the biggest companies ever to have performed at QPAC.

Andrei Volotin and Nunukul Yuggera Aboriginal dancers. Photographer: Darren Thomas

Welcome to Country Across many cultures of the world, welcoming ceremonies from traditional owners are extended as a formal invitation to land. In line with these age-old traditions, the Nunukul Yuggera Aboriginal Dancers welcomed the Bolshoi Ballet to their land in a show of great respect and in celebration of the arrival of their Russian friends. This special moment marked the coming together of the world’s oldest living culture with one of the world’s great ballet companies.

Photographer: Darren Thomas

The Bright Stream. Photographer: Darren Thomas

Rehearsal Less than 48 hours from its arrival into Brisbane (including stopovers in Singapore, Sydney and Melbourne), Bolshoi Ballet dancers prepared to take the stage for their first rehearsal. Dancers were joined by local adults and children who were given the chance of a lifetime to perform on stage as supernumeraries with this legendary company. With sets built and erected, props cleaned and readied and dancers put through multiple rehearsals, the stage was set for the curtain to lift on the Bolshoi Ballet for the first time in almost two decades.

Lyric Theatre Foyer. Photographer: Darren Thomas

Excitement builds With the company ready to take the stage, QPAC too readied itself for the Bolshoi Ballet’s impending season. Every detail was attended to. Russian greetings were circulated to staff, foyers and dining spaces were themed and translated signage erected backstage to help our Russian visitors navigate their way around QPAC. As interest in the Bolshoi Ballet season peaked right across the Cultural Precinct, the stage was well and truly set for epic performances to unfold at QPAC.

Photographer: Darren Thomas

Gala dinner As the Bolshoi Ballet dancers prepared themselves backstage, a welcoming audience of ballet afficianados readied themselves for the opening night of The Bright Stream. In celebration of this comedic rural romp, a gala feast was prepared on the Concert Hall stage with tables dressed with the all the bounties of the harvest, themed to complement the festival setting of the ballet. With a menu designed by QPAC’s Executive Chef (including a stunning ballerina dessert that left guests amazed) and accompanied by Louis Roederer champagne, patrons relaxed safe in the knowledge that the Bolshoi Ballet was minutes away from delivering yet another dazzling performance.

Concert Hall Stage. Photographer: Darren Thomas

Nina Kaptsova, Le Corsaire.Lyric Theatre Stage. Photographer: Darren Thomas

Backstage Behind the scenes of each Bolshoi Ballet performance, hallways were spotted with prima ballerinas, tulle and costume trunks. As the audience found their seats, calls were being announced, rigging was being checked, finishing touches were applied to makeup, tutus were straightened and pointe shoes had rosin applied to heels and tips. Dancers took their positions in the wings, the men and women of the orchestra tightened their strings and technical crew readied themselves for instruction from the Stage Manager. The lights dimmed, anticipation rose and nerves settled. Silence fell and the Bolshoi Ballet took to the stage in all its grandeur.

Maria Alexandrova and Vladislav Lantratov, Le Corsaire. Photographer: Darren Thomas

Maria Alexandrova and Vladislav Lantratov, Le Corsaire. Lyric Theatre Stage. Photographer: Darren Thomas

Performances Supported by the exquisite Queensland Symphony Orchestra, the Bolshoi Ballet presented two productions showcasing its bold and colourful style across two very different ballets. Le Corsaire is a swashbuckling, romantic tale of pirates, slaves and oriental intrigue and is typical of the exotic and ambitious ballets created during the Tsarist era. One of the most spectacular (and expensive) productions ever to be staged at QPAC, this was also the Australian premiere of Le Corsaire, providing a showcase for the company’s stars, the soloists and its magnificent corps de ballet. The Bright Stream is one of only a few ballets from Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich. Set on a collective farm, it delighted audiences but did not find favour with the Soviet authorities, especially with Stalin, who thought the subject too serious for a light-hearted and joyful ballet. It was banned for almost seven decades until revived by the former Bolshoi Ballet artistic director Alexei Ratmansky, who methodically and painstakingly rediscovered the original staging and steps which were lost when the ballet was banned. No other dance company in the world could have presented two works as diverse and technically demanding as these.

Le Corsaire. Lyric Theatre Stage. Photographer: Darren Thomas

The Bright Stream. Lyric Theatre Stage. Photographer: Darren Thomas

Le Corsaire simulcast Empire Theatre Toowoomba. Photographer: Darren Thomas

Simulcast Queensland’s vast geography presents challenges to QPAC in the delivery of live performance to regional areas. QPAC’s live simulcast program takes performances beyond the walls of our South Bank home to people across the state. In 2013, the Bolshoi Ballet’s Le Corsaire was the first ballet simulcast by QPAC and to date has been the most widely and popularly attended simulcast in the program. Filmed live at QPAC’s Lyric Theatre on Tuesday 4 June 2013, the performance was simulcast to an audience of 5,694 across nine venues, enabling thousands of people to experience one of the world’s greatest performing arts companies in full flight. For many, this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the finery and exquisite detail of one of the Bolshoi’s signature ballets, Le Corsaire, accompanied by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Venues that partnered in the simulcast were: Ayr (Burdekin Theatre), Bundaberg (Moncrieff Entertainment Centre), Cairns (Civic Theatre), Coolum (Palmer Coolum Resort), Gladstone (GEC Marquee, Marina Plaza), Hervey Bay (Seafront Oval), Mackay (Entertainment and Convention Centre), Rockhampton (Pilbeam Theatre) and Toowoomba (Empire Theatre).


Photography Damir Yusupor

bring it on In a cultural coup that is the envy of the nation, Brisbane is about to host the Bolshoi Ballet for not one, but two glittering productions. Here’s how the deal was done. Story Leisa Scott


h, the richness, the spectacle, the sheer drama of a visit from Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet. There’ll be thunder, lightning, a shipwreck and heartache. There’ll be swashbuckling pirates drawing daggers over stolen maidens, eunuchs in harems, a bride switcheroo, a hint of bondage and a sleeping potion secreted in a flower. Want more? Throw in some cross-dressing ballet dancers in a pistol duel in the country, the whiff of an extramarital dalliance and, of course, a tractor driver riding a bicycle dressed as a dog.





Moreton Bay

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in this edition is subject to copyright provisions. News Queensland accepts no responsibility for the unauthorised republication of such material. The Editor of mX, Emma Chalmers, accepts responsibility for election comment.










FRIDAY, MAY 31, 2013 $1.20 incl GST



Tutu much Bolshoi is barely enough Pirates and slaves take the stage as Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet perform Le Corsaire. Adapted from Lord Byron’s epic poem, the swashbuckling show is on until Wednesday at QPAC. Tickets from $69. Picture: LIAM KIDSTON

The Bolshoi soars across the stage

SAME DAY Exclusive: Outcast MP’s ‘suspicious’ donation PERSONAL LOANS. MOSCOW’S mighty Bolshoi Ballet left the audience spellbound in its opening performance at the Lyric Theatre in Brisbane last night. The cast of more than 100 dancers put on a world-class performance of Le Corsaire complete with perfect pirouettes, leaps that defied gravity and technical precision that had the theatre crowd mesmerised. Review » P7

Picture: Liam Kidston


. . . 26° Cairns Showers . .


27° Townsville Shower

. . . . . . .

25° Rockhampton Poss shower

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Coast 23° Gold Showers

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Coast 23° Sunshine Showers

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Mark Solomons Kelmeny Fraser

OUTCAST MP Scott Driscoll made a $50,000 pre-election donation to the LNP less than a month after he and his wife orchestrated a ‘‘suspicious’’ payment of $60,000 from their retail lobby group to family company Norsefire. The MP faces new criminal probes after the Industrial Relations Commission yesterday found damning evidence of him misleading Parliament and of fraud, misappropriation of funds and the faking of documents by him and his wife Emma Driscoll. Queensland Industrial Relations Commission Deputy President Adrian Bloomfield will write to police com-

19° Toowoomba Poss shower



missioner Ian Stewart asking him to investigate the couple based on evidence of fraud and other ‘‘activities which . . . might be regarded as criminal in nature’’ in relation to their retail lobby group. Mr Bloomfield told the hearing that Mr Driscoll had persuaded his house cleaner, who has a poor command of English, to be a proxy. The revelations will increase the pressure on Mr Driscoll to resign as the Member for Redcliffe. He has not appeared in Parliament for two months. Mr Driscoll resigned from the LNP after Premier Campbell Newman and colleagues dropped their staunch support for him. Report» P6-7




Friday, May 31, 2013 The Courier-Mail 1

Bolshoi dancers prove a pointe The Bolshoi dancers from Russia joined our home-grown talent for ballet class yesterday in Brisbane. The company will perform two productions during their visit to the city (Le Corsaire, which opens Thursday, and The Bright Stream, which opens June 5 at QPAC). Bolshoi principal Ekaterina Shipulina (pictured left, with Maria Alexandrova) said she was excited to be dancing in the ballets for the first time in Australia. ‘‘Le Corsaire, particularly, is a very nice ballet, very big,’’ she said. Picture: Mark Calleja

Defence forces on alert Courtesy Newspix/News Limited.

Ian McPhedran Mark Morri

THE Australian Defence Force has issued a blunt warning to troops to avoid a firebrand Sydney-based jihadist. The warning, which follows attacks against soldiers in London and Paris, relates to a man who is on bail after pleading guilty to an ATM ram raid robbery.

Troops warned against contact with jihadist who faces court for sentencing on Friday, against the Australian Defence Force in the past, the defence source said. Intelligence sources said information gathered showed that the man was willing to donate his share of the robbery takings to ‘‘the cause’’.

is a young man whose ideology is worry enough that he had his passport seized after he visited Afghanistan.’’ Defence Chief General David Hurley issued a separate directive yesterday ordering all forces to adopt enhanced security measures following the

rangements to make sure they are effective and appropriate against this form of threat,’’ he said. Australian troops have been fighting in Afghanistan since late-2001 and the military warning was distributed to troops marked ‘‘restricted’’.

staff that any contact with the man in question should be reported immediately to the Defence Security Authority. ‘‘In the event that contact is made with (the man) a ‘report of contact security concern’ detailing any interaction is to be submitted to the DSA as a

man was placed on a travel watch list by US authorities in 2010 ‘‘due to his demonstrated connections’’ with Yemeni based al-Qa’ida mastermind and former US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki who was killed by a US drone strike in 2011. ‘‘This recommendation is based also on his current location being Australia, where Australian authorities can monitor his whereabouts and

Bolshoi beauty beggars belief



Bolshoi hits town BALLET Catherine Lambert


TARS of one of the greatest ballet companies in the world were welcomed to the home of Australian ballet yesterday. Dancers of the Bolshoi Ballet visited The Australian Ballet for a tour of its Melbourne studios and were dressed in costumes from Le Corsaire, famous for its male solo scenes that were perfected by Rudolph Nureyev and

Mikhail Baryshnikov. The swashbuckling, romantic tale of pirates and slaves is typical of ballets created during the Tsarist era. Inspired by Lord Byron’s 1814 poem The Corsair, this three-act ballet was first performed at the Bolshoi in 1856. The Bolshoi Ballet, in Australia for the first time in almost 20 years, will perform The Bright Stream, featuring a score by Dmitri Shostakovich, at Brisbane’s Lyric Theatre only from Thursday to June 9.

G’day: (from left front) Vladislav Lantratov and Maria Alekandrova; (rear) Ekaterina Shipulina and Mikhail Lobukhin are welcomed to the Australian Ballet by Kismet Bourne and Andrew Wright.




Bolshoi Ballet participate in Queensland Ballet Classes with Li Cunxin. Photographer: Darren Thomas

Residency model As visiting guest artists, members of the Bolshoi Ballet were encouraged to immerse themselves in the local community, offering opportunities for local dancers and companies to engage with their international counterparts. A highlight for four Bolshoi Ballet principal dancers was a visit to the Queensland Ballet studios to participate in a dance class led by artistic director and Mao’s Last Dancer author Li Cunxin. Bolshoi Ballet principal Mikhail Lobukhin watched Bruce Beresford’s film adaptation of Mao’s Last Dancer two years ago over the internet because the film wasn’t shown in Russian cinemas. Lobukhin said Li’s story of defection was shared by performers such as legendary dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, who sought political asylum in Toronto in 1974. “Those moments were in our history as well. Russia was so difficult to go away and go abroad,” he said. Connecting the Bolshoi Ballet principal dancers with Queensland Ballet was just the first in a range of resident opportunities conducted throughout the season.

Feet First. Cultural Forecourt. Photographer: Darren Thomas

Extending the Bolshoi experience As part of the residency model, the Bolshoi Ballet’s season at QPAC extended far beyond the walls of the Lyric Theatre. In addition to twelve magnificent performances, ballet lovers could indulge in a range of complementary events designed to provide deeper insight into the company and its works and to celebrate the Bolshoi Ballet’s Russian heritage. Some of the additional events on offer included: Conversation Series, a panel discussion to explore ballet and dance with some of the world’s leading dance authorities; Feet First, a free dance festival showcasing a range of dance genres and inviting the public to participate; the Russian Supper Club, where patrons could sample Russian-inspired cuisine; a Russian Bazaar marketplace where traditional arts, crafts and food were on offer; and the Tools of the Trade exhibition that explored the development of the tutu over the years. These events were so successful that Bolshoi Ballet dancers themselves were seen enjoying the atmosphere, often in full costume.

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Photographer: Darren Thomas

Rest and relaxation For many of the Bolshoi Ballet company, this was their first visit to Australia, giving them the opportunity to enjoy some of the more traditional tourist adventures. In a rare day off between performances, many of the dancers ventured to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary to get up close and personal with Australian wildlife. For many, including principal dancer Maria Alexandrova who had realised a childhood dream of visiting Australia, this season would turn out to be one they will cherish for years to come.

Le Corsaire cast. Photographer: Darren Thomas

Photographer: Darren Thomas

Governor’s Reception As the season came to its finale, the Bolshoi Ballet was invited to attend a reception at Government House as guests of Her Excellency Ms Penelope Wensley AC, Governor of Queensland. The Governor is a long-standing supporter of the arts and the role it plays in contributing to the cultural and social development of all Queenslanders. This function marked a formal end to the Bolshoi Ballet’s triumphant Brisbane season and offered an opportunity for everyone involved to reflect on what had been an outstandingly successful visit. Sell-out performances. Standing ovations. Quite simply, the Bolshoi Ballet had lived up to its name and delivered one of the biggest ballet seasons Brisbane had ever seen.

Encore. The Bright Stream. Lyric Theatre Stage. Photographer: Darren Thomas

Maria Alexandrova and Vladislav Lantratov, Le Corsaire. Lyric Theatre Stage. Photographer: Darren Thomas

Farewell The 2013 Bolshoi Ballet season was the second instalment of QPAC’s International Series and afforded ballet lovers from around the country a rare chance to see this company perform. The success of this season was the result of years of planning and could not have been achieved without the support of all our partners who helped make it a reality. We recognise and thank them for their contribution. As the QPAC International Series continues to grow, so too does the expectation of QPAC and Brisbane to deliver cultural events of significance. We relish this challenge as the journey continues into 2014.



The Bright Stream. Lyric Theatre Stage. Photographer: Darren Thomas


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