‘Beauty’ to mark Klaus’s departure in Queensland: Three American dancers join Royal New Zealand Ballet

As a tribute to Francois Klaus, one of his major productions, The Sleeping Beauty, will mark the end of his 15-year artistic directorship at the Queensland Ballet.

Opening on December 1, it will replace a new work that was planned to end the year – Fairy Tales: Stories of Hans Christian Andersen.

Li Cunxin is artistic director-designate of the Queensland Ballet, and with Klaus’s departure in December, we can expect new Australian commissions, choreographic imports from Europe and the United States, and new productions of the big three Tchaikovsky ballets, Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and Nutcracker.

In the same way as the Hamburg Ballet repertoire is based on the ballets of its artistic director, John Neumeier, the Queensland Ballet’s repertoire has been dominated by the ballets of Klaus who worked at the Hamburg Ballet under Neumeier’s direction.

Like Neumeier, Klaus produced his own versions of the Tchaikovsky trio, with his Nutcracker premiering in 2005.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Li commissions a new Nutcracker and eventually a Beauty and Swan Lake in order to make his mark on the rep – depending on available funding.

There’s change, too, at the Royal New Zealand Ballet but it’s a little more muted.

Eight months into his artistic directorship at the Royal New Zealand Ballet, the American, Ethan Stiefel, is keeping a low profile.

He retires as a principal of American Ballet Theatre in New York in the company’s production of Le Corsaire on July 7, and we can expect the launch of his 2013 season at RNZB in the coming months.

The RNZB website lists 30 dancers (including Stiefel’s wife, Gillian Murphy), and it’s interesting that two of the dancers are Americans, Sam Shapiro, who joined the company under Stiefel’s directorship and Sara Havener, who joined one year ago. Both are from
North Carolina.

Now a third American, Madison Geoghegan, from Ohio, appears to be joining the company. Her former dance school, Ballet Tech of Ohio, has just reported that Madison “is not only graduating from high school, she has also been offered a contract with the Royal New Zealand Ballet under the direction of Ethan Stiefel”.

For the past couple of years, Geoghegan has been training at the School of Dance at University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Stiefel was dean of that dance school from 2007 until May last year.

One Comment

  1. Naomi Klahn
    Posted July 27, 2012 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    Dear Valerie,
    I notice in your articles about Francois Klaus, that you refer to the QB repertoire being “dominated” by his ballets or versions of classic ballets. Haven’t we, the audience, been very lucky for this very reason!
    When Francois puts his interpretation on a classic ballet he either takes it back to its original tale, i.e. Don Quixote, or adds an interesting element gleaned from his extensive knowledge, e.g. Swan Lake. His new ballets work with the strengths of his dancers, and he gives us the whole package – music, drama, comedy……
    It is very disappointing that, not only will Francois Klaus be leaving the Queensland Ballet prematurely, but that he was not able to leave with the ‘bang’ that would have been his new ballet “Fairy Tales: Stories of Hans Christian Andersen”. We were all looking forward to experiencing these tales in ballet form, which would have been choreographed on the extremely talented and well-trained dancers of QB. Francois would have chosen just the right music from his amazing musical bank, and just imagine the new costumes, scenery and lighting design we are missing out on.
    Li will no-doubt be able to draw in world talent, but Francois has been doing this for years – John Neumeier, Nils Christe, etc – as well as Australian choreographers – Natalie Weir etc.
    I wish Li Cunxin well as Artistic Director, however, I will miss the creativity of Francois Klaus. (I am not alone)
    Change is inevitable, but not always welcome.

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Queensland Ballet's The Sleeping Beauty, Clare Morehen as Aurora

Queensland Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty, Clare Morehen as Aurora

Ethan Stiefel, photo © Rosalie O'Connor

Ethan Stiefel, photo © Rosalie O’Connor