In the barren theatrical landscape dictated by COVID, outdoor performances are providing a glimmer of hope for bringing bigger audiences back sooner. While such stagings also come with their own challenges and limitations, Queenslanders have a long tradition of embracing open-air ballet performances.

Queensland Ballet performance of Giselleat HOTA Gold Coast. Photograph © Scott Belzner

Despite postponing its 60th anniversary 2020 season to 2021, throughout this year, Queensland Ballet has created opportunities to keep engaging its dancers with audiences.

It’s already three months since it surprised with an intimate season of 60 Dancers: 60 Storiesat Brisbane Powerhouse(which will encore at QPAC in December), so the announcement of a three-night presentation of Giselleat HOTA’s outdoor stage accomodating 1609 patrons on the Gold Coast was an unexpected treat. Now, more than ever, philanthropy is keeping the arts afloat, and it was the generosity of GC local Carole Byron, augmenting government support, that enabled this event.

This production staged by Ai-Gul Gaisina proved an early highlight of Li Cunxin’s artistic reign in 2013; the 179-year-old romantic ballet remains one...