Li Cunxin Leading the Queensland Ballet through 2014

Queensland Ballet. Season 2014 Principals and Soloists Creative designfront. Photo by Harold David

Queensland Ballet. Season 2014 Principals and Soloists Creative designfront. Photo by Harold David

Sharing the latest Brisbane trends including places to eat, drink, play and socialise is a passion not a chore. This was confirmed when I met Li Cunxin who encourages Brisbane to follow their dreams. I wrote this article for local website Creative Drinks. It is well worth the read.

The Queensland Ballet has released their program for 2014, which is set to be a breathtaking and sensational season.

For the second year in a row, Artistic Director Li Cunxin is leading beautiful and romantic ballet performances.

Since the release of his best selling autobiography, Mao’s Last Dancer, Cunxin’s heartfelt and magical story from rags-to-riches has inspired dreamers from all over the globe.

Growing up in poverty-stricken rural Qingdao in China, Cunxin learnt courage, determination and integrity as he fought for survival. With the love and encouragement from his parents, Cunxin held on to hope and has since found himself as one of the worlds most respected and resilient dancers.

Queensland Ballet Dance Dialogues Li Cunxin with Principals & Soloists Creative designfront Photo Harold David 2

In an interview with Cunxin, I asked him for one piece of advice that he could offer Australia. His inspirational response was to “have huge dreams.” Cunxin stated, “Be relentless in perusing them. Because otherwise life is too short.” He noted that in order to make your dreams come true, you must “have the courage and the work ethic.”

This appears true in Cunxin’s own life. Taking the world by storm, Cunxin’s passion, drive and long standing career in dance will lead the Queensland Ballet in to another year of success.

To understand what it truly takes to make these performances possible, Cunxin described a typical day in his shoes. He stated that his “mind would be racing about what is in front of (him) in the short term of the day and the week.” He also commented that he is “constantly thinking about the future” and “ what (he) can do for the Queensland Ballet.”

However amid teaching dancers and undertaking meetings, his job comes with the rewarding benefit that he cares about most, “helping the dancers realise their potential.”

Under Cunxin’s direction, the year 2014 is predicting a positive mix of elegance, beauty, tragedy and magic within the endless possibilities of dance. A combination of exceptional world-class choreographers, artists and dancers will rise to every challenge.

The 2014 program will steal the hearts of Brisbane with the Australian première of Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo & Juliet. Cunxin believes that “many people in the dance world regard MacMillan’s Romeo & Juliet as the worlds best production.” Normally performed by “large ballet theatres of the world,” Cunxin expressed his excitement to be including this in their 2014 program.

Queensland Ballet Sir Kenneth MacMillan's Romeo & Juliet Dancers Rachael Walsh & Matthew Lawrence Creative designfront Photo Harold David 2

Cunxin also expressed his excitement for Flourish, which will exhibit a “contemporary neoclassical edge.”

Queensland Ballet Flourish Dancers Meng Ningning Nathan Scicluna & Clare Morehen Creative designfront Photo Harold David 2

These performances will be running at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) with the return of Ben Stevenson’s The Nutcracker, which is a Christmas tradition for the Queensland Ballet.

Queensland Ballet Ben Stevenson's The Nutcracker Dancers Meng Ningning & Hao Bin Creative designfront Photo Harold David

Intimate dance dialogues will also allow audiences to be among the first to witness behind the scenes activities. This will be held in their home, the Thomas Dixon Centre in West End, with Cinderella in various Queensland cities.

I am most looking forward to the world première of Greg Horsman’s Coppélia. It forms a chaotic story about a life-like doll in the late 19th century who is brought together in an outstanding emotive ballet performance with charm, blissful dance and humorous talent. Cunxin describes the performance as being “beautiful, inventive and creative.” As a first for Australia, all eyes will be on Cunxin and his obvious talent for charming adults and children with his magnificent productions.

Queensland Ballet Greg Horsman's Coppelia Dancer Clare Morehen Creative designfront Photo Harold David

While we sit in the audience and wish the performances would never end, Cunxin is thinking the same. Cunxin revealed his love for his job and stated, “I wish I could stretch the minutes or hours of the day to still have more time.”

As we went on in conversation, it was his gratitude for Queensland that really shone through. Cunxin expressed his appreciation for his audiences by stating “It has been an extremely exciting year for us all. What I’m so pleased about is that Queenslanders have been very enthusiastic and supportive of our vision. They have made our season a stunning success.”

Cunxin finished by saying, “so at Queensland Ballet we are all grateful and we are so looking forward to next years exciting programs.” Cunxin cannot wait “to be able to share more magic with (their) audience.”

And as living proof himself, Cunxin is set to make dreams come true and enchant audiences with love stories through an exceptional art form. He has created fairytales for audiences to escape to, even if it is just for one evening.

With season tickets for the Queensland Ballet performances in 2014 now on sale, I am sure the public will be knocking down doors for a chance to experience works of art directed by Queensland’s Australian of the Year, Li Cunxin.

And as we said farewell and Cunxin wished me a merry Christmas, I thought back to The Nutcracker and how I must secure tickets of my own for another joyful Christmas in 2014.

Details: Queensland Ballet calendar for 2014 | Various theatres, QPAC; Thomas Dixon Centre, West End | 20 February to 20 December 2014

Images by Harold David