Queensland Ballet’s 60th anniversary, 2020

The Queensland Ballet will celebrate its 60th anniversary next year with a gala paying tribute to the company’s artistic directors present and past – Charles Lisner, Harry Haythorne, Harold Collins, François Klaus and Li Cunxin.

The gala will include excerpts from Lisner’s Chopin pas de deux, Jacqui Carroll’s Carmina Burana, Harold Collins’s The Lady of the Camellias and Francois Klaus’s The Little Mermaid and Cloudland,

The final piece, chosen by Li Cunxin, the present artistic director, will be Harald Lander’s homage to classical ballet, Études.

International guest artists will join the Queensland Ballet’s dancers for the gala that opens on 20 March.

There’s more than one Lady of the Camellias in the repertoire, as the 2020 season will begin with the Queensland Ballet’s sister company, Shanghai Ballet, performing Derek Deane’s version of The Lady of the Camellias.

Deane, the former artistic director of the English National Ballet, has recently choreographed works for the Shanghai Ballet,

Queensland Ballet’s 2020 season continues with Krzysztof Pastor’s Dracula, a co-production with the West Australian Ballet; a new interpretation of the children’s tale, Peter and the Wolf, by Greg Horsman; Bespoke, the company’s annual season of contemporary ballet with works by Natalie Weir, Remi Wortmeyer and Petros Treklis; Horsman’s production of The Sleeping Beauty; the company’s Tutus on Tour performed in Queensland’s regional centres; a Melbourne tour with Liam Scarlett’s production of Dangerous Liaisons and, at the end of year, Ben Stevenson’s The Nutcracker.

Charles Lisner, the founding artistic director of the Queensland Ballet.

Lisner, born in Paris in 1928, was the youngest of three children of Joseph Hersz Lisner, a tailor and his wife, Malka. In 1937, the Polish family migrated to Australia.

It was a wise decision. Three years later the Nazis occupied Paris.

When the Lisner family settled in Melbourne, Charles and his brother, Tauvia, saw a performance by Edouard Borovansky’s Melbourne Academy of Russian Ballet.

As Joanne Scott wrote in The Australian Dictionary of Biography, Lisner joined the Borovansky Ballet in 1945 but soon decided to return Europe, hoping he’d be accepted into the Sadlers Wells Ballet in London.

His first attempt failed but Lisner persisted and later won a scholarship to join the company’s school.

Eventually he was accepted into the company.

Lisner’s dance career ended when he became seriously ill with pneumonia and he returned to Australia.

In 1953, he opened a ballet school in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley.

The academy was the first step towards the foundation of the Lisner Ballet Company in 1960. Two years later it was renamed the Queensland Ballet Company.

Lisner remained as the artistic director and choreographer at the company until 1974 when he resigned.

Two years later he was awarded an OBE and found a new career as a dance critic for The Courier Mail.

Lisner then wrote three books, My Journey Through Dance, (UQP 1979), The Australian Ballet, 21 years, (UQP 1984) and The Complete Guide for Australian Dancers, (1988).

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Charles Lisner, photo © Graham Garner, c.1965

Queensland Ballet, Bespoke, 2020

Queensland Ballet, The Sleeping Beauty, 2020

Queensland Ballet, Dracula, 2020

Queensland Ballet, branding image, 2020