The Nutcracker, Graduation Ball
HISTORY AT THE BALLET
The Courier-Mail reported on a significant mile-stone that enhanced this performance of ‘The Nutcracker’ and ‘Graduation Ball’ and many more BTQ productions to come:
For the first time in the history of Her Majesty’s Theatre, Brisbane, a local company has been selected to present a ballet performance. The Ballet Theatre of Queensland will perform from Wednesday October 20 to Saturday October 23.
It will have a cast of more than 108. The company, which had world-renowned Garth Welch as a former member, will include in the cast past members of the Australian Ballet, the Borovansky Ballet, Sadlers Wells, the International Ballet Company, and the Ballets de L’Europe.
Director of production will be Miss Phyllis Danaher, the only Queensland member of the Advisory Council of the Royal Academy of Dancing.
The ballets to be presented at Her Majesty’s are “The Nutcracker” and “Graduation Ball”. Ballerina Pamela Proud has just arrived in Brisbane especially to advise on the part of the Pigtale Girl from “Graduation Ball”." (The Courier Mail, October 1965)
In another newspaper article, it was noted that the leads all had significant professional backgrounds, and some had overseas experience “sent there by the Ballet Theatre of Queensland through its policy of diverting funds for this purpose”.
Donald Kingston had danced with the International Ballet Company and the Ballet de l’Europe; Ronald Lindner with companies in England, Europe and Canada; Lexie Kunze with the Borovansky Ballet Company and later the Australian Ballet Company; Dayne Cory also danced with the Borovansky Ballet Company; and Desley Hammond danced with the Australian Ballet Company during their Brisbane seasons.
The following Courier-Mail review reflects the pleasure audiences took in this production of two well-loved ballets in the well-equipped and beautiful Her Majesty's Theatre.
THE BALLET IN FINE SPIRIT
The Courier-Mail, 21 October 1965
In all the entertainment field there is possibly no better entrancing expression of the Christmas spirit then “The Nutcracker”, which the Ballet Theatre of Queensland presented at Her Majesty’s last night. For audience and performers alike this was a truly happy occasion.
It was the first time a local ballet company had appeared at the theatre, which offers the inestimable advantages of adequate stage space, good lighting, and handsome decor, originally for the Borovansky productions.
Lexie Kunze, as Sugar Plum, whirled easily through the intricacies of pirouettes, fouettes, arabesques, and “fishdives”, and delighted the audience with her elegant virtuosity. She was capably partnered by Dayne Cory, who executed some neat cabrioles and tour en l’air.
As the child, Clara, the central figure in all the revelries, Christine Mathewson showed herself to be a miniature ballerina of considerable promise. Desley Hammond proved an invaluable member of the troupe, and portrayed the mother with tender charm. With Judy Lowe and Cheryl Watson, Miss Hammond scored an outstanding success in the pas de trios of the coy Marzipan Shepherdesses.
Ken McCaffrey, an excellent character dancer, shone as the agile magician in Act 1, and in the Chinese variation, in the bobbing movements of which he was joined by two buoyant partners, Laurel Eastment and Robyn Feeney.
Michelle Carter and Dennis Young gave brilliance and verve to their pas de deux, which had for accompaniment the sparkling music of the “Cassack Dance”. Jean McEwan and Alyson Ridgewell in the Spanish Dance, and Jennifer Smyth (Arabian) were agreeably lively and sinuous, but occasionally exaggerated their movements.
Children who appeared as toy soldiers, mice, little cooks, polichinelles, all contributed to the pleasing smoothness of the presentation, which reflected great credit on the producer, Phyllis Danaher.
The program was completed by “Graduation Ball”, danced to the beguiling music of Strauss, in the setting of a fashionable school in Vienna.
The story takes place in the nineteenth century, but the ballet’s mood is the timeless one of young people – uncertain, bashful, and eager – at their first formal dance. Donald Kingston capably led the cadets. Desley Hammond as compere expressively introduced the divertissements, and Dayne Cory was amusing as the prim headmistress.
The programme will be repeated for three more nights and at a Saturday matinee. No ballet lover should miss it.
Courtesy Judith end Wendy Lowe
Researcher and writer: Dr Christine Comans