All change at Queensland Ballet as Li Cunxin rings in the new year

Li Cunxin’s first season for the Queensland Ballet will include three full evening ballets, Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella, a new production of Giselle, produced by Ai-Gul Gaisina, and a new Nutcracker, whose producer/choreographer has not yet been announced.

The 2013 program, announced today, marks a major change in the repertoire of the Queensland Ballet where the repertoire for the past 15 years has been dominated by the choreography of the incumbent artistic director, Francois Klaus who will leave the company in December.

For 2013, Li has also programmed a mixed bill of four works under the umbrella title ‘Elegance’, comprising Ershter Vals (“First Waltz”), choreographed by the Chinese-born dancer and choreographer, Ma Cong; Three Preludes, choreographed by Ben Stevenson; Verdi Variations choreographed by Greg Horsman, who will be the company’s new ballet master (from next year), and a work, danced to music by Vivaldi by the Brisbane-based dancer and choreographer Gareth Belling.

Stevenson, artistic director of the Houston Ballet from 1976, was a major influence on the life of Li Cunxin. As documented in Li’s book, Mao’s Last Dancer, Stevenson was instrumental in bringing Li from China to Houston, and mentoring him in the United States.

Next year, Li will continue Klaus’s studio performance program (Vis-a-Vis) but under a new title, Dance Dialogues, programmed for February and August at the Queensland Ballet’s home, the Thomas Dixon Centre.

He has also announced that Andrew Mogelia will be the company’s new music director and principal conductor.

The sets for Cinderella, performed in April, will be designed by Thomas Boyd with costumes by Tracy Grant Lord.

For Giselle, in June and July, the sets and costumes will be purchased by the Queensland Ballet from the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s production of the ballet last performed about six years ago.

Next month, the RNZB will premiere a new production of Giselle, produced by its artistic director, Ethan Stiefel, and Johan Kobborg.

Li is the subject of next Monday’s Australian Story on ABC1