Francois Klaus resigns from Queensland Ballet

In 51 years the Queensland Ballet has been led by only four artistic directors – Charles Lisner, Harry Haythorne, Harold Collins and Francois Klaus.

But now, there will be a fifth, with the announcement this week that Klaus has resigned.

He will remain at the helm for two and a half years, quitting in December 2013.

That’s a long farewell for all concerned, and particularly the 17 dancers (and six trainee dancers).

The announcement by the Queensland Ballet sent slightly mixed messages.

The chair of the company, Joan Sheldon, said it was time for the organisation to “rejuvenate”.

But she said that although “Mr Klaus’ decision was final”, he had “agreed to extend his contract until December 13, 2013, before departing to pursue his creative interests elsewhere”.

Professor Sheldon, former Deputy Premier and Treasurer of Queensland, said Klaus had made a “remarkable” contribution to the company and would leave behind a “tremendous legacy”.

She then added that “all arts companies constantly need to rejuvenate in order to remain relevant for their audiences”.

Klaus, born in France, danced with the Geneva Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, Munich Ballet and Hamburg Ballet before becoming artistic director of the of the Bern Theatre in 1991. He took up the position of artistic director of Queensland Ballet in 1998.

Klaus is a director/choreographer whose works dominate the company’s repertoire. This year, the rep includes three of his ballets, The Little Mermaid, Carmen and King Arthur and the Tales of Camelot.

In another farewell this week, the Australian Ballet has announced that Kirsty Martin will retire as a principal following her performance in The Merry Widow on 4 July.


  1. Douglas McConnell
    Posted January 28, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    As a former long term member and supporter of the San Francisco Ballet and one who for the past 8 years been enchanted by the artistry, creativity and high professional standards of the Queensland Ballet, Francois Klaus rates right up there with ballet directors such as Michael Smuin and Helgi Thomasson. Queensland is losing a precious talent who will be sorely missed. I wish Francois everything good in the next chapter of his life.

  2. Judi Young
    Posted October 1, 2012 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Francois will be sorely missed – I am disgusted by his hasty removal – I have flown back several times from overseas to watch the QB under his tenure.

  3. valerie
    Posted October 1, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    Hi Judi, I’ve just written about the changeover at the Queensland Ballet and will soon post the article that was published in The Australian Financial Review last weekend (September 29-30). Francois is in Prague at the moment and says he has come to terms with his departure from Brisbane at the end of this year and looking forward to a resumption of his European career.

  4. Naomi Klahn
    Posted December 28, 2012 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    Well said Douglas and Judi.
    The amazingly talented choreographer, musician, teacher, mentor, Francois Klaus, is being replaced by an ex-dancer, who does not choreograph, and does not have the intimate knowledge of music that Francois has.
    Part of Joan Sheldon’s “rejuvenation” of QB appears to be removing a third of the current dancers, and ‘buying’ in all the choreography, design, and musical direction.
    Our loss is Europe’s gain. Francois is feted in Europe with good reason.

  5. valerie
    Posted December 29, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    Hi Naomi, I understand the sadness many feel at the departure of an artistic director who has been with a company for many years but I think Li Cunxin has many excellent qualities that will work to the advantage of the Queensland Ballet. The 2013 season includes a production of Giselle by Ai-Gul Gaisina who is a much respected Australian-based former dancer, director and teacher while the choreographer/producer of the end of year Nutcracker has not yet been announced so it may be too early to say that the choreography for next year is bought in.
    Not all companies are led by choreographers – among those that aren’t are the Royal Ballet, the Bolshoi Ballet, the Paris Opera Ballet and the Austraiian Ballet.
    The Queensland Ballet has changed direction so let’s wait and see what these changes will mean to all. Meanwhile I’m among the many who wish Francois continuing success in Europe.

  6. Naomi Klahn
    Posted December 30, 2012 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    Hi Valerie,
    Don’t get me wrong, I am a loyal QB fan, so have my 2013 subscription tickets.
    I am looking forward to the season, I am just upset about the manner in which so many changes were made, the loss of a great asset to Queensland, and the loss of wonderful dancers from our stages.
    I think you were the only commentator to pick up on the mixed messages from the Board.
    Thank you for your comments, and I will follow your blog with interest.

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Francois Klaus

Francois Klaus