How bittersweet it is – ballet gala to end Li Cunxin’s long goodbye

Queensland Ballet’s outgoing artistic director Li Cunxin wants to go out on a high and a ballet gala seems the fitting way to do that.

Nov 15, 2023, updated Nov 15, 2023

How do you say goodbye to the man who turned Queensland Ballet into an international powerhouse of dance?

With a gala performance of course, or even a couple of them.

Audiences can expect an emotional and nostalgic journey through dance when Queensland Ballet presents Love & Legacy: Celebrating Li Cunxin with three performances in the Playhouse at QPAC on December 12 and 13.

This brief celebratory season features excerpts from Li’s magnificent 11-year tenure as Artistic Director, from 2013 to 2023, a period during which he led the company through an extraordinarily transformational period of growth and success.

To celebrate that we will have the romance of a Cinderella pas de deux (by Ben Stevenson) and Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s iconic Romeo and Juliet balcony pas de deux, alongside the evocative tango from Dracula (by Krzysztof Pastor). Add Summertime from Derek Deane’s Strictly Gershwin and the sizzling Sympathy of the Devil from Rooster (Christopher Bruce) and excerpts from Swan Lake (Ben Stevenson again, Li’s mentor), Dangerous Liaisons (Liam Scarlett) and Glass Concerto (Greg Horsman) and you have quite a feast of ballet.

Li Cunxin says it will be a “bittersweet” event but that he was delighted to be able to present such a program as his swansong.

He’s enormously proud of what he and the company have achieved together.

“Over the past decade, we have proven to be a world-class ballet company, and been granted permission to perform the most distinguished productions by the likes of Ben Stevenson and Kenneth MacMillan,” Li says.

“I’m also delighted to showcase some of the more contemporary works and commissions that the Company has performed and developed over the past decade, including audience favourites by Natalie Wier, Greg Horsman, Liam Scarlett and Jack Lister.

“The program really shows off the breadth and versatility of Queensland Ballet’s incredible artists.”

Assistant Artistic Director, Greg Horsman, has also hinted at a surprise for Li.

“We couldn’t stage this special season without paying tribute to Li and his incredible career,” Horsmann says. “No spoilers, but there are a few things in the program that even Li doesn’t know about.”

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In addition to the performances, there will also be two special in conversation events at which Li Cunxin will reflect on his tenure with Queensland Ballet, sharing insights into his vision and his methods of building a world class company. He will share stories and experiences that he has never shared publicly before.Since Li announced his retirement earlier this year, Queensland Ballet has put the call out to people wishing to share their well wishes and messages of support for Li.

You can leave your message for Li at 

Love & Legacy: Celebrating Li Cunxin, 7.30pm December 12 and 1.30pm and 7.30pm December 13, the Playhouse, QPAC.

Reflections as Artistic Director, In conversation with Li Cunxin, 5.30pm December 12 and 13, the Playhouse, QPAC.

Tickets are now available through QTIX

Call 136246 or

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