‘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.

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