Two New Principals for QLD Ballet

Queensland Ballet’s Artistic Director Li Cunxin has announced two exciting additions to the company in 2013. Matthew Lawrence, former Principal at the Birmingham Royal Ballet, will join the Company as Principal Dancer, and Huang Jun Shuang, former Principal at the Houston Ballet, will join the company as Guest International Principal for eight months.

Mr Cunxin is delighted to share this news with audiences. “Both Matthew and Huang are extremely talented dancers. It is a real coup for the company to attract two international stars of such high calibre to Queensland Ballet, and will only strengthen our standard. We’re very excited that Matthew and Huang will be joining Queensland Ballet’s family.”

Ballet dancer Matthew Lawrence in Giselle

Matthew Lawrence dances as Albrecht in ‘Giselle’. Photo by Andy Ross

Huang’s position as Guest International Principal is the beginning of a new international guest artist program, funded by the Jani Haenke Charitable Trust.

“We are enormously grateful to the Jani Haenke Charitable Trust for their generous funding of this exciting venture. This new program will bring incredible versatility to the company and to our audiences. Jani’s passion and support of the arts was phenomenal, and the funding of this program builds upon her legacy to provide meaningful support to arts organisations and many other worthy causes,” said Mr Li.

Janice Helen (Jani) Haenke (1940–2009) grew up in Ipswich, Queensland. Jani trained as a librarian and worked at various institutions in Australia and the United Kingdom. Jani devoted herself to patronage of the arts and architecture, and to campaigning on environmental issues. The Jani Haenke Charitable Trust was established to support organisations that provide spiritual care, conservation and preservation of the environment, arts and cultural organisations and overseas aid.

Mr Cunxin is full of admiration for Matthew Lawrence. “Matthew has exceptionally strong classical technique, is a fabulous partner and has great experience in diverse classical and contemporary repertoire. Not only will he bring maturity, experience and strengthen the standard of male dancers in the company, he will be an inspiration and mentor to our younger dancers. Matthew also makes a very handsome prince!”

Born in New Zealand, Matthew Lawrence trained at the Australian Ballet School in Melbourne. After graduating, he joined The Australian Ballet and in 2003 Matthew was the inaugural winner of the Telstra People’s Choice Award, and went on to become a Principal artist at the company. Matthew was nominated for two Green Room Awards for Best Male Dancer. In 2008 Matthew joined Birmingham Royal Ballet as a Principal dancer.

The breadth of roles he has performed has proved him a hugely versatile artist. Matthew’s repertoire includes leading roles in Romeo and Juliet, Giselle, Cinderella, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Don Quixote, The Sleeping Beauty and many other classical and contemporary works by renowned choreographers. Matthew’s talents are equally sought after as a guest artist, dancing at the World Ballet Festival in Japan with the Royal New Zealand Ballet, and at the Cranko Festival in Stuttgart.

Huang Jun Shuang will perform with Queensland Ballet until the end of the Elegance season (2 – 4 August, 2013). “Huang is one of the most exciting emerging international stars. He is technically brilliant and has won many awards. The company can only benefit from having such a stand-out dancer on the international stage join the company,” comments Mr Cunxin.

Jun Shuang Huang trained for seven years and was an honour student at the Shanghai Dance School in China. In 2007 Huang joined the Guangzhou Ballet Theatre as a Principal dancer before joining Houston Ballet as a Principal dancer in 2010. Huang was a junior third winner of the 2005 Asia-Pacific Ballet Competition, a Junior Silver winner in the Taoli Cup Dance Competition (China’s top dance competition) in 2006, a Bounty Award winner at the Varna International Ballet Competition in 2008, and a Gold Medal winner in the senior division at the Helsinki International Ballet Competition in Helsinki, Finland in 2009.

Haung’s repertoire includes principal roles in Swan Lake, La Bayadère, La Sylphide, Coppélia, Le Corsaire and Don Quixote. Huang has also toured the United States and Switzerland as a guest artist.

For information about Queensland Ballet’s 2013 season visit www.queenslandballet.com.au

Top photo: Dancer Huang Jun Shuang

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