Dance diary. May 2019

  • David McAllister to retire

The news for May is headlined by the announcement that David McAllister, artistic director of the Australian Ballet since 2002, will retire at the end of 2020. McAllister has always been generous in situations that are about dance but fall outside performances. He launched, for example, two of my books, A Collector’s Book of Australian Dance and Dame Maggie Scott. A Life in Dance. In this month’s featured image (above) he is seen in the Chunky Move studios in Melbourne launching A Collector’s Book. The banner on the left shows an image that appears in the book and that was taken by Greg Barrett.

I have also enjoyed seeing McAllister at various conferences, including the first BOLD Festival held in Canberra in 2017.

Who will be the next director? The names that have been mentioned in the press so far (I have arranged them alphabetically by family name) include Leanne Benjamin, David Hallberg, Li Cunxin, Graeme Murphy, and Stanton Welch. One or two of them have declared they are not interested (not sure if I necessarily believe that). I have one or two others in my mind but I won’t mention them here! I do hope, however, that whoever survives the selection process and becomes McAllister’s successor will be someone who will be audacious in repertoire choices.

  • Shaun Parker and Company

In September 2010, dancer (and singer in the counter tenor mode) Shaun Parker registered a name: Shaun Parker and Company. Next year the company that bears that name will celebrate its 10th anniversary with, I believe, a special program.

The company has just recently returned from the Middle East and Austria where Parker’s most recent production, KING, was performed. In the meantime, Parker is now working on a new show for young people, IN THE ZONE, which will premiere in Sydney this coming September. It will feature street dancer Libby Montilla and the technology of AirSticks.

Scene from KING, Shaun Parker and Company, 2019. Photo: © Prudence Upton
  • Archibald Prize 2019

Among the finalists for the 2019 Archibald Prize, Australia’s well-known portrait prize hosted by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, was a portrait entitled Mao’s Last Dancer by Chinese-born artist Jun Chen. Chen, who is currently based in Brisbane, was commissioned last year by the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra to paint a portrait of Li Cunxin, artistic director of Queensland Ballet. It was one of twenty portraits commissioned to celebrate the Gallery’s twentieth anniversary. Chen followed up with a second portrait of Li and entered it for the Archibald Prize. While it didn’t take first place it was good to see a portrait of a dancer among the 2019 finalists. See all the finalists here.

Mao’s Last Dancer: Jun Chen’s portrait of Li Cunxin
  • Following new posts

I have had a number of requests recently asking how to join up to receive notification of new posts. Here’s how to do it:

1, Make a comment by going to the ‘Leave a reply’ form, which you will find at the end of every post.
2. Before hitting the ‘Post comment’ field, check the box that says ‘Notify me of new posts by email’. (Make sure you have also filled out your name and email address. A website address is not necessary).
3. After you have submitted the comment you will receive a follow-up email asking you to confirm. It will say ‘Confirm follow’. Once you have clicked on this field you should begin to receive notifications of new posts.

Michelle Potter, 31 May 2019

Featured image: David McAllister launching A Collector’s Book of Australian Dance, Melbourne 2003. Photo: © Lynkushka

4 thoughts on “Dance diary. May 2019

  1. As a documentary photographer working in the Australian Dance Industry intensively in the 1990s and now only periodically Michelle’s newsletter keeps me connected to the Dance Industry and also gives me the opportunity to contribute photographs to the newsletter…. many photographers work “stays alive” through small regular publications
    Angela Lynkushka
    Photographer

  2. I so enjoy being able to use your photographs Angela. So thank you for your generosity. I love the one I have used as the featured image in this post. As well as being a shot of David launching the book, it shows the venue beautifully, as well as the way the National Library set it up with the banner and those fabulous flowers.

  3. I hope they cast the recruitment net very wide…would love to see the new AD come from completely outside the “usual suspects”, i.e. someone who has no current or past strong connection with the company. I think an “audacious” rep would most likely come from this sort of person.

    Perhaps Sascha Radetsky could be persuaded away from ABT’s Studio Company?

  4. Yes, I agree that the the net needs to be cast as widely as possible. I really hope too that the board does not already have someone in mind. If they do it will most likely be a ‘usual suspect’. Those who make the selection need a very open mind.

    The two classical companies I most like watching at the moment are Queensland Ballet and the Royal Ballet. I am always filled with anticipation as I wait for the curtain to go up and, once it does, the time just flys by. It has a lot to do, I think, with a galvanising energy that flows from the director in class and rehearsal. That energy then flows on to the dancers and shows on stage. I don’t feel that anticipation at the moment with our own company.

    I think you are right too that my ‘audacious repertoire’ is most likely to come from someone outside the company who therefore thinks outside the box that surrounds the company at the moment..

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