Principal Dancer Rachael Walsh checks-in from Gladstone…
After a wonderful performance and an incredible response from the audience in Maryborough, we were on the bus early the next morning ready to take the experience of Cloudland to Gladstone. Our bus trip included a travel stop in Gin Gin and another Queensland Ballet tour tradition of a ‘not to be missed’ pie for lunch at the Travellers’ Rest Cafe. This year my scallop pie exceeded all expectations yet again!
It has been quite a few years since Queensland Ballet has performed a full length ballet in Gladstone, and upon arriving it was instantly evident they were excited to have us visit…Cloudland banners, billboards and posters lined the streets and shop windows.
Our performance was a particularly special one for the city as it was the final evening show at the Gladstone Entertainment Centre before the theatre closes for major refurbishment. The story of Cloudland will be a fitting closing ceremony for the old dame, and the memories I’m sure it holds for many local residents.
Sunday was a free day for the Company, unfortunately it was a wet and grey day so much of the time was spent indoors, but we had a lovely dinner to make up for the weather!
It also gave me the opportunity to catch up with good friend Helen Graham, who danced with me many years ago at my local ballet school in Mt.Gambier, S.A.
Helen is now teaching ballet at the Wendy Barker Dance Studios, where one of the workshops led by our Ed Squad (the incredibly talented Tim and Emma) was held. It was lovely to reconnect with Helen; it was also a wonderful chance for me to talk with her about her students, dance in regional centers and the importance of exposure to live performance for aspiring dancers. Her students were very excited about the Company’s performance and about the opportunity to participate in the workshops offered.
Our Arrow Energy Dance+ Workshops and school holiday workshops have had an incredible response in each place we’ve visited. Tim and Emma are so passionate and offer an inspiring and informative experience for young dancers. One of these young dancers may one day become the next Queensland Ballet star….who knows!
Performance day in Gladstone finally arrived and we had a lot to achieve in our technical rehearsal to fit the ballet onto a stage that was much smaller than we had performed on so far. Cloudland has many big group scenes, as well as the band on stage with us throughout the ballet. Fortunately we were in the very capable hands of Ballet Master, Christian Tátchev, who soon had everything sorted smoothly and we sailed calmly into the performance.
The Gladstone audience was generous and warm and some stood to applause at the end of the show. The evening finished with a function in the foyer, it was a great opportunity to speak with the audience, local arts lovers and ballet students. We enjoy connecting with our audience and we particularly love hearing people’s own stories of their time at the iconic Cloudland ballroom.
One couple we spoke to, who had been married for 45 years, had met and had their first kiss at Cloudland. It was a touching walk down memory lane for them. It makes me soooo happy that we can tell this story for them.
The company is in good spirit and dancing well, I particularly enjoyed watching the disco scene this evening….go dancers go-go!!
Thank you Gladstone, goodnight old theatre. Onwards now further north, Rockhampton is our next venue.
Love Rachael x