Dancing on the Great Barrier Reef
These days, it is not unusual for dance companies to perform on beautiful open-air stages, especially in the summer. Some venues are well-established: Jacob's Pillow in the Berkshires, the Saratoga Center for the Performing Arts in upstate New York, the Vail International Dance Festival in the spectacular setting of the Vail Valley, the Avignon Festival in Provence, but there is no spot quite like the seaside setting at Qualia, the luxury resort on the northern-most point of Hamilton Island, on the Great Barrier Reef, where the Australian Ballet performs on an specially constructed stage, with the particular blue-green waters of the Whitsunday Islands as background.
This year, for the seventh year, members of the Australian Ballet return to give performances during October 31-November, a weekend planned for guests of Qualia around the residency of the company. Fresh from performances at City Center's Fall for Dance Festival in New York, where the company gave the premiere of Ostinato, set to music of Bill Evans and choreographed by Tim Harbour, and a tour to Los Angeles and Berkeley, California, the dancers will perform a range of contemporary dance works, including Ostinato, as well as an excerpt from a classic, Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake.
Artistic Director David McAllister leads the 50-year plus Australian Ballet, international in scope–repertoire, dancers, choreographers, designers—and renown. The company, as the country's national ballet, divides its season among Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, and Adelaide, and tours the continent and abroad. Yet, there may be no more dramatic or dramatically beautiful setting than Hamilton Island and nothing quite so characteristic for the Australian Ballet as performing on the Great Barrier Reef.
Mario Mercado is the former arts editor at Travel + Leisure.