The Australian Ballet performs at qualia Posted by Gemma Christie - 27 November 2014 Sitting in Hamilton Island’s luxury resort, qualia overlooking the idyllic Whitsunday islands, Australian ballet enthusiasts hold onto every word as the Q+A session unfolds. The company’s resident choreographer, Steven Bayne details how, as a young boy, he would tuck tea towels into his shorts and twirl about the kitchen, watching as they floated gracefully up and down as he. Steven was born a dancer. This epitomises the rare gems, the precious insights you receive when attending the intimate, exclusive Australian Ballet performance at qualia. An event now in its seventh year, it’s one of the only times you will have the chance to spend a weekend getting to know the stars of and brains behind the internationally acclaimed ballet company. Morning barre session Saturday 31 October: the morning of the performance begins with an exclusive viewing of the dancers’ routine barre session. We take our place under the black umbrellas with a glass of cucumber and lime water in hand. We need it. The sun beats down on the island resort, a perfect Whitsundays morning. Not a single cloud disturbs the blue above. Taking their place on the custom built stage overlooking qualia’s Pebble Beach and using restaurant chairs as their stand in ballet bar, Australian Ballet Creative Director, David McAllister AM leads his dancers through their warm up. We watch in awe as their bodies move gracefully in time against the idyllic tropical island back drop. Cocktails by the pool As the Whitsundays sun begins to set we return to the stage and discover the most exquisite set up. Tables are draped in white encircle the Pebble Beach pool and are positioned in front of the purpose built stage in a supper club fashion. Florist Aleksandra artistically arranges the three thousand garden roses in blush, peach and cream and 400 phalaenopsis orchids all flown in for the occasion. Photo credit: instagram.com/aleksandradiary Guests quickly fill the exquisite poolside setting, arriving in slick suits and flowing cocktail dresses. As we sip on Charles Heidsieck and lychee martinis, the setting sun paints the Whitsundays sky a perfect hue of pink. Conversation comes to a hush. You can feel the anticipation build as emcee Catriona Rowntree and Artistic Director David McAllister AM take the stage and ask us to take our seats. The performance begins Australian Ballet dancers, Madeleine Eastoe, Lana Jones, Robyn Hendricks, Daniel Gaudiello, Andrew Killian, Rudy Hawkes and Ty King-Wall wow the audience with every performance, each one choreographed by the company’s Resident Choreographers Tim Harbour and Stephen Baynes. The company’s contemporary favourites delight guests in between courses prepared by the luxury resort’s Executive Chef, Alastair Waddell. No one in the crowd wants the evening to end. Add to that, it’s the only time the dancers perform outside their traditional theatre space. In my opinion, if they’re only going to do it once a year, they have definitely picked the most picturesque location to do so. You’ll be hard pressed to find Great Barrier Reef accommodation or a Whitsundays luxury resort which compares to the beauty and understated elegance of qualia. Fireworks and standing ovation The perfect evening concludes with a standing ovation for the dancers and a surprise fireworks display put on by the Oatley family to celebrate the national dance company. The sky comes to life, clapping roars and the dancers take a well deserved bow. An extraordinary display of grace and beauty – it really is the only way to summarise the weekend. For any lover of luxury, arts and culture, this is an experience which you must catapult to the top of your bucket list. It sounds cliché but it’s actually true. There isn’t an event like the Australian Ballet performance at qualia anywhere else in the world. As former arts editor at Travel + Leisure, Mario Mercado, said before departing the USA bound for his ultimate Great Barrier Reef vacation: “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.” I couldn’t agree more. There’s simply nothing that compares. Pas de deux in Paradise 2014 photography by Julian Kingma. About the Author As Hamilton Island’s Communications Manager, Gemma is passionate about both writing and all things to do with Hamilton Island tropical island paradise. Sharing all the news, insights and interesting stories from the destination perfectly combines both loves. When not writing, Gemma can be found dancing for no reason, going out for breakfast, soaking up the beach or spending time with her family doing all of the above.