Les Sylphides, The Nutcracker, Peter and the Wolf, Coppelia
Her Majesty's Theatre, Queen Street, Brisbane. Courtesy Dayne Cory Collection, SLQ.

Les Sylphides, The Nutcracker, Peter and the Wolf, Coppelia

October 2nd, 1974 — October 12th, 1974


In October 1974 Ballet Theatre presented Brisbane audiences with an ambitious, if challenging,  season of four ballets, all performed at Her Majesty’s Theatre. Over a two week period the company presented ‘Les Sylphides’ and ‘Nutcracker’ between the 2nd and 5th October followed by ‘Peter and the Wolf’ and ‘Coppelia’  between the 9th and 12th October.

The October season marked 21 years of performances and was a fitting celebration of BTQ's outstanding contribution to Queensland's cultural life.

Of the two week season at Her Majesty’s, Phyllis Danaher wrote in her annual Artistic Director’s Report that it had “strained the resources of the dancers and the producers to the limit”. She added that she intended to “revert to one week performances at Her Majesty’s Theatre in future and hope to supplement these with tours to the near country centres. “

Although artistically an exciting and rewarding venture, financially the four ballet season failed to make a profit for the company, due mainly to costs associated with the hiring of the venue and staff wages.

Brisbane audiences however delighted in the performances, as did ballet critic Constance Cummins in her Courier Mail review of ‘Coppelia’ and ‘Peter and the Wolf’:


Courier Mail Review

As presented by Ballet Theatre at Her Majesty’s last night, ‘Coppelia’ and ‘Peter and the Wolf’ provided a refreshing excursion into the brightly-coloured world of fantasy.

The cleverly designed street scene with which ‘Coppelia’ opens, and the costumes, in colours suggestive of poppies, cornflowers and wheat, created the illusion of an enchanting medieval village.

Inara Svalbe has a butterfly lightness and daintiness which made her perfectly suited to the role of Swanilda, the village belle, and ringleader in mischief.

Paul Wright gave an exuberant performance as the flirtatious Franz, and enlivened those two rather tired old war horses, the Mazurka and the Czardas, by his vigorous dancing. Dayne Cory, as the mysterious Dr Coppelius, contributed a masterly portrayal of the fussily, self-important inventor.

In ‘Peter and the Wolf’ the dancers showed an excellent sense of fun, in interpreting Prokofieff’s witty score, originally written to introduce children to the various instruments of the orchestra.

As the boldly confident Peter, Dianne Craitem clearly expressed the boy’s love of freedom and his exultation on capturing the wolf.

Chris White as the Bluebird had classical poise and grace, and her arm movements were particularly good. Sue Ageat as the foolish duck, and Jackie Wright as the cunning cat, were a delightfully comic pair.

Craig Phillips, the prowling, greedy wolf, Kurt Lerps (Grandfather) and the mincingly affected members of the hunting party all added to the fun.

Much credit for the success of the programme is due to the producers, Phyllis Danaher (‘Coppelia’) and Inara Svalbe (‘Peter and the Wolf’)

The Courier Mail, October 1974


Pierina Curties, who played one of the Mice in 'The Nutcracker', shares her memories of that experience. She wrote:

"I've been cleaning up my home and found this old program and rehearsal schedule/ record from 1974 when I danced the role of a Mouse.I have attached some photos of the program and rehearsal record.

"A funny memory that I have of the time was that another mouse accidentally pulled the tail off my costume fairly shortly before we were due on stage. One of the costume assistants was on the ball and quickly sewed it back on to save the day.

"I really enjoyed performing with BTQ. The next year I was a Child in the annual 'Nutcracker' performance. There was an annual progression through the roles which we eagerly anticipated.

"It was a great experience although I do remember being aware of being especially good when Miss Danaher was in the room.

"I have recently rekindled my love of performing through Latin Dance- and I credit BTQ performances as starting that love."

Pierina Curties

Researcher & writer: Dr Christine Comans


Her Majesty's Theatre, Brisbane
Artistic Director
Phyllis Danaher M.B.E.
Production Director
Phyllis Danaher & Inara Svalbe
Rehearsal Director
Judith Lowe
Desley hammond
Inara Svalbe
Cyril Johns
Assistant Choreographer
Desley Hammond
Judith Lowe
Guest Artists
Paul Wright
Mal Czislowski
Costume Designer
Wardrobe Mistress: Elizabeth Proud
Scenic Designer
Geoffrey Head
Gordon Turnball
Ken McCaffrey
Max Hurley
Lighting Designer
John Rodgers
Musical Director
Wendy Lowe
Charles Leonard
Sergey Prokofiev
Frederic Chopin
Sir Mostyn Hanger K.B.E.


  • Inara Svalbe
  • Judith Lowe
  • Paul Wright
  • Mal Czislowski
  • Petrea Gibbins
  • Fay Johnson
  • Nicole Vass
  • Dayne Cory
  • Dianne Craitem
  • Barbara Lecatsas
  • Maureen Stockdale
  • Chris White
  • Jackie Wright
  • Wendy Lowe
  • Sue Argaet
  • Leanna West
  • Benny Stein
  • Ian Inglis
  • Bill Stanfield
  • David Brown
  • Kurt Lerps
  • Ray McKenzie
  • Ken McCaffrey
  • Craig Phillips
  • Christopher Gillard
  • Tricia Tommasi
  • Ruth Gabriel
  • Debbie King
  • Jenny Stanfield
  • Karen Hoskins
  • Petrea Gibbins
  • Fay Johnson
  • Nicole Vass

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