Official Opening of the New Queensland Ballet Academy at Kelvin Grove State College
Minister Grace; Executive Principal of Kelvin Grove State College, Mr Llew Paulger; Chair of Queensland Ballet, Ms Julieanne Alroe and fellow Board members; Artistic Director, Mr Li Cunxin; Queensland Ballet Academy Director, Mr Christian; ladies and gentlemen; students. I am very pleased to join you today for this historic official opening.
I at once acknowledge the traditional owners of these lands and extend respectful greetings to Elders and emerging leaders.
Governors of Queensland since Sir Henry Abel Smith have been proud patrons of Queensland Ballet and, since my appointment as Governor in 2014, it has been a pleasure to watch the company grow and prosper under Li’s leadership.
The Academy could not have become reality without Li’s vision and determination.
Today it is also fitting to acknowledge the imagination, commitment and belief of many others since 1953 when Charles Lisner first opened his Ballet Academy.
Charles saw that, if he established a ballet school, it could grow into the first professional ballet company in Australia. Without initial government funding, and having mortgaged his own home, Charles saw his vision become a reality.
Almost thirty years later, three local ballet teachers noticed that Queensland’s best young dancers were interrupting their schooling and transferring to the Australian Ballet School in Melbourne. Their defiant and enterprising response was to hire a studio and set up card tables after dance classes for the students to do year 11 and 12 distance education studies. This would grow to become the Queensland Dance School of Excellence and now, the Queensland Ballet Academy.
Like Charles Lisner and the founders of the Dance School of Excellence, Francois Klaus, during his tenure as Artistic Director, recognised that the world’s best ballet companies achieved that status by training their own dancers. He therefore established training programs that would give the best young dancers the opportunity to launch professional careers. These, too, have grown and developed to become elite Academy programs.
The realisation of the Queensland Ballet Academy has also taken the ongoing commitment and belief of the Queensland Government and the community, with more than two million dollars raised for the fitout in spectacular fashion, during a 24-hour Giving Day last year.
The Academy is a great story of Queensland vision and enterprise that can claim a place alongside the likes of Qantas and the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Indeed, the Academy could well adopt the credo of the Reverend John Flynn, founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service: “If you start something worthwhile, nothing can stop it”.
I have spoken of Charles Lisner, whom I in fact remember from my own childhood. But may I again acknowledge our current Artistic Director Li Cunxin, whose inspirational leadership has led this company to what I would term stratospheric heights.
I congratulate Queensland Ballet on this very significant new emanation, the Queensland Ballet Academy. I thank the Queensland Government, Kelvin Grove State College and the many individuals here today who brought this magnificent project to fruition. I know the Academy will build on the proud heritage of Queensland’s excellent dance institutions, and be a continuing source of inspiration for our State. Thank you.