Reviews

Rating : 3.5 stars

Swan Lake Act II & Graduation Ball, QPAC (QLD)

Ballet Theatre Queensland presents a double bill that juxtaposes precision and humour.
Swan Lake Act II & Graduation Ball, QPAC (QLD) Dancers Tristan Fraser-Preston and Corina Poh. Photo: Tom Baker.

Federica Caso

Thursday 23 January, 2020

Swan Lake Act II & Graduation Ball is an enchanting double bill production by Ballet Theatre Queensland, Australia’s oldest continuing classical ballet company. Founded in 1937, the company combines the wisdom of tradition with the high energy of young performers and artists.

While very different in character, the two acts complement each other by bringing together the beauty and high precision of Swan Lake and the humour and high-spirited dances of Graduation Ball.

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Swan Lake transports the viewer to the shores of a mystical lake where Prince Siegfried declares his love for the beautiful Princess Odette. Carina Poh performs her role as Odette with fearless grace. Her lines are soft, precise, and expressive, testament to a great artist. At times, more than 30 dancers in white tutus breathe and move together on stage, creating an overpowering sense of harmony.

After a short break, the audience is cast into the ballroom of a mid-19th century Viennese school where graduating girls flirt with the cadets who attend the ball. Graduation Ball is spirited and showcases some feats, such as pirouettes and fouettés. Its humour is contagious and engaging, as is reflected in the laughter of the audience.

The set designs create the perfect background. They are rich in details and colours which are masterfully intensified by Glenn Hughes’s lights. The stage was made all the more beautiful by the costumes designed by Carmel Wenck. The simplicity of the dresses featuring in Graduation Ball is remarkable. They exalt the lines of the dancers without making them heavy. 

It has been over 30 years since Ballet Theatre Queensland has presented a double bill. Artistic Director Clare Morehen made a brave decision which has paid off. The combination of the two different acts ensures that there’s something for all tastes. Morehen said in the program that she was more interested in Graduation Ball – it’s the ballet that made her fall in love with performing onstage, and she wanted to give the young artists of Ballet Theatre Queensland the same opportunity. While Swan Lake is a renowned ballet whose name people remember, Graduation Ball is the real treat of the show. 

Attending Swan Lake Act II & Graduation Ball is also an investment in the future of ballet in Queensland. The show features some very young and promising artists who will hopefully continue to populate the stages of QPAC and other national and international theatres.

3.5 stars out of 5 ★★★☆

Swan Lake Act II & Graduation Ball
Staging and additional choreography: Clare Morehen
Choreography: Lev Ivanov (Swan Lake) and David Lichine (Graduation Ball)
Set design: Graham Maclean (Swan Lake) and Bill Haycock (Graduation Ball)
Costume design: Carmel Wenck
Lighting design: Glenn Hughes
22-25 January 2020
Playhouse, QPAC
Tickets $46-$66

About the author

Federica Caso is a political analyst and writer. She has recently completed her PhD in International Politics at the University of Queensland. Her research focuses on the politics of aesthetics and art. She is interested in how art and culture are co-opted in systems of power and domination, and used as instruments of political resistance. She has written, hosted events, and facilitated discussions about the politics of aesthetics. She is a board member of House Conspiracy, an art centre located in West End, Brisbane.