Arts Review


Queensland Ballet presents Coppélia to Brisbane audiences this year at the perfect interval, the night air becomes fresher as the colder months roll in, taking a moment to appreciate the changing of the seasons, with a performance that hits the right notes in terms of the overarching themes of finding solace in not only yourself but your surroundings. Audience members can appreciate Coppélia as a timeless tale with a twist, as Queensland Symphony Orchestra creates the required synergy that breathes life into the performance, one worthy of a standing ovation.


Leanne Benjamin’s creative direction and artistic flair has not gone amiss in Coppélia, with an emphasis on usage of props, costume design and set construction that each serve as key storytelling elements that enable seamless transitions between scenes. Taking a pivot away from the creative direction of Li Cunxin AO, who tends to gravitate towards the more grandiose and theatrical aspects of ballet, Leanne Benjamin OBE AM applies a different approach when it comes to the storytelling aspect of the artform, placing a greater emphasis on the often overlooked, intimate moments woven into the narrative, as can be seen with the subtle nuances of each dancer’s movement coinciding with the harmonious orchestral arrangement performed by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Coppélia will continue to delight and excite audiences as the Queensland Ballet 2024 season unravels before our very eyes, and with anticipation as audiences eagerly await the large-scale productions yet to be experienced in the QPAC stages such as Coco Chanel and The Lady of the Camellias.


The narrative surrounding ballet as an artform, especially in Queensland, appears to be shifting towards a more inclusive space for people of all ages, backgrounds and walks of life. This can be seen with the recent Queensland Ballet rebrand, post Li Cunxin AO’s departure, which places emphasis on inclusivity and accessibility as there are now sessions dedicated to those with specific sensory needs and/or on the autism spectrum disorder. In addition to this, there are also Audio Described performances and AUSLAN interpreted post-performance Q&As that are accessible to the general public. It is an exciting time, where there are more ways than ever before that audiences of all abilities can experience both contemporary and traditional ballet live on the stages of the Playhouse Theatre, QPAC and Thomas Dixon Centre, and as Queensland Ballet continues to evolve over the years to come, it will be interesting to see what form it takes next.


It appears the heart of Coppélia lies with Greg Horsman’s interpretation, and his decision to set the narrative in the small German settlement of Hahndorf, in South Australia. Horsman’s creative decision has brought a classic tale to life, one that can be viewed from a uniquely Australian lens. Queensland Ballet’s 2024 version of Coppélia showcases Leanne Benjamin’s artistic direction at its finest, with world class talent and at its core a narrative that serves to acknowledge the roots of settlement in this country, in this case German, which has led to the linguistically diverse and multicultural Australia of today.


Review: Joanna Letic


Imagery provided by Queensland Ballet



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