The Brisbane Season of the Bolshoi Ballet 2013

QPAC International Series
The QPAC International Series links Brisbane to the world’s greatest stages and feeds a growing desire to experience the preeminent ballet and orchestral performers of our time.  The Series features an annual, exclusive presentation of some of the world’s finest performing arts companies and is focused in the fields of dance and classical music -specifically ballet companies and world orchestras. QPAC’s International Series is not only a way to share some of the world’s greatest companies with Australian audiences but equally it is a way to engage in a creative exchange between artistic communities from different countries. The Series is presented in partnership with Tourism and Events Queensland and has become one of the must-see events on the national performing arts calendar.     
In the months leading up to the Bolshoi Ballet's arrival, a rich red tapestry slowly started to cloak Brisbane.  From red lanterns to themed foyers, QPAC also prepared itself to celebrate all things Russian and ensure that the Bolshoi Ballet extended far beyond the majestic stage of the Lyric Theatre.                                   

Bolshoi tutus being prepared for Le Corsaire

It takes an enormous effort to move a company of this scale from its home in Moscow, across 14,000 kilometres to arrive safely within QPAC's theatre walls.  Eight shipping containers carrying over 50 tonnes of freight spent two months at sea transporting handcrafted tutu's, make-up, costuming and props and around four kilograms of rosin to ensure every dancer had a steady grip on stage.  The Bolshoi Ballet included 145 people, making it one of the biggest companies ever to have performed at QPAC.
Welcome to Country
Across many cultures of the world, welcoming ceremonies from traditional owners are extended as a formal invitation to land.  In line with these age-old traditions, the Nunukul Yuggera Aboriginal Dancers welcomed the Bolshoi Ballet to their land in a show of great respect and in celebration of the arrival of their Russian friends.
Less than 48 hours from its arrival into Brisbane (including stopovers in Singapore, Sydney and Melbourne), Bolshoi Ballet dancers prepared to take the stage for their first rehearsal. Dancers were joined by local adults and children who were given the chance of a lifetime to perform on stage as supernumeraries with this legendary company. 
Excitement builds
With the company ready to take the stage, QPAC too readied itself for the Bolshoi Ballet's impending season.  Every detail was attended to.  Russian greetings were circulated to staff, foyers and dining spaces were themed and translated signage erected backstage to help our russian visitors navigate their way around QPAC.
Behind the scenes of each Bolshoi Ballet performance, hallways were spotted with prima ballerinas, tulle and costume trunks.  Dancers took their positions in the wings, the men and women of the orchestra tightened their strings and the technical crew readied themselves for instruction from the Stage Manager.  Silence fell and the Bolshoi Ballet took to the stage in all its grandeur.
Le Corsaire
Le Corsaire is a swashbuckling, romantic tale of pirates, slaves and oriental intrigue and is typical of the exotic and ambitious ballets created during the Tsarist era.  One of the most spectacular (and expensive) productions ever to be staged at QPAC, this was also the Australian premiere of Le Corsaire, providing a showcase for the company's stars, the soloists and its magnificent corps de ballet.
The Bright Stream
One of the only few ballets from Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich.  Set on a collective farm, it delighted audiences but did not find favour with the Soviet authorities, especially with Stalin, who thought the subject too serious for the light-hearted and joyful ballet.  It was banned for almost seven decades until revived by the former Bolshoi ballet artistic director Alexei Ratmansky, who methodically and painstakingly rediscovered the original staging and steps which were lost when the ballet was banned.

In celebration of The Bright Stream, a gala feast was prepared in the Concert Hall with tables dressed with all the bounties of the harvest, themed to complement the festival setting of the ballet.

Residency model
As visiting guest artists, members of the Bolshoi Ballet were encouraged to immerse themselves in the local community, offering opportunities for local dancers and companies to engage with their international counterparts.  A highlight for four Bolshoi Ballet principal dancers was a visit to the Quuensland Ballet studios to participate in a dance class led by artistic director and Mao's Last Dancer author Li Cunxin.
Extending the Bolshoi experience
In addition to twelve magnificent performances, ballet lovers could indulge in a range of complementary events designed to provide deeper insight into the company and its works and to celbrate the Bolshoi Ballet's Russian heritage.  Some of the additional events on offer included: Conversation series, a panel discussion to explore ballet and dance with some of the world's leading dance authorities; feet First, a free dance festival showcasing a range of dance genres and inviting the public to participate and a Russian Bazaar marketplace where traditional arts, crafts and food were on offer.
Rest and relaxation
For many of the Bolshoi Ballet company, this was their first visit to Australia, giving them the opportunity to enjoy some of the more traditional tourist adventures.  In a rare day off between performances, many of the dancers ventured to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary to get up close and personal with Australian wildlife.
The 2013 Bolshoi Ballet season was the second instalment of QPAC's International Series and afforded ballet lovers from around the country a rare chance to see this company perform.  The success of this season was the result of years of planning and could not have been achieved without the support of all our partners who helped make it a reality.
Credits: Story

Queensland Performing Arts Centre

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