LIFE IN MOVEMENT
In May 2007 the Sydney Dance Company appointed 29-year-old choreographer Tanja Liedtke as their first new artistic director in 30 years, to succeed Graeme Murphy. However before she could take up the position in October, she was struck and killed by a truck in the middle of the night in Sydney's Crows Nest, in August. Admired internationally as a dancer and celebrated for her fresh choreographic voice, she was known as a dedicated artist, intelligent, dorky, funny and generous. 18 months after her death her collaborators embark on a world tour of her work, and in the process deal with their grief.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
This bio/tribute/archive doco about German born, Spanish educated, Australian dancer & choreographer Tanja Liedtke is illustrated with clips of performances from her own body of work, notably her first full length production, Twelfth Floor in London and Stuttgart (her birthplace) and later Construct in Adelaide as well as clips from works at DV8, where she became a performing superstar.
Made in a collage style, the film features some archival footage of Liedtke which goes a long way to give us insight into her personality as well as her extraordinary well of dance talent. But like all artists, she had doubts and insecurities; she felt an obligation to repay her growing acclaim with ever more inspired works.
Her colleagues - fellow dancers mostly - speak about her as an inspiration with the sort of sincerity and conviction that an untimely death alone cannot elicit. They speak of her as part of a close knit group who shared their lives and their passion for dance so profoundly that on her sudden death they simply didn't know what to do. We also hear from her mother, her father and her brothers - notably about the impact her death had on them.
Episodic as the dance works are, we can see what a striking, riveting dancer she was and what a unique and inspired choreographer she became. Innovative, articulate, brave, dramatic, her works are gripping. Little wonder she was chosen (out of fabulous 54 candidates) to succeed the founding father of the world famous Sydney Dance Company, Graeme Murphy, one of the world's most acclaimed choreographers.
Life In Movement is a heartfelt and valuable work that documents a remarkable young woman, who would have given us all such a fantastic body of dance work over the years. Her accidental death is shattering blow to dance - and art generally.
Review by Louise Keller:
What this documentary about 29 year old dancer and choreographer Tanja Liedtke achieves brilliantly, is the depiction of the way the artist becomes locked inside her work and creativity. When the German born, Spanish and English educated dancer tragically died in August 2007 on the eve of her commencing her role of artistic director of Sydney Dance Company, the world lost a unique talent and one who refused to accept limitations.
Entering the challenging world of Tanja Liedtke is no ordinary experience - in some way the haunting spirit of this waif-like artist who used her body as if it were a medium, through which expressions and emotions were transmitted, lingers. The haphazard way in which dance sequences, raw footage, interviews and expressions are edited together well describes the chaotic life, leaving us with a glimpse of an eclectic free spirit whose art seems to have claimed her for itself.
There's an endearing moment at the very beginning of the film in which Liedtke, in a candid interview tells how aged 3, she wanted to be a flower, happily oblivious to the fact it was impossible. The impact of seeing the impossible become a reality at a school concert of Waltz of the Flowers where children blossomed as flowers was a revelation to her, inspiring her lifelong passion for dance.
But Liedtke's work was never displayed with that flower-like innocence: scenes of watching her dance with free, fluid expression in her bathroom, seemingly oblivious of the camera and totally in her own space, show an ability to allow her soul to transcend her body. The movements are unforced, mysterious, bizarre and provocative. There's another scene in a studio in which she repeatedly slaps herself, telling herself to 'pull yourself together' before crying and hitting herself again as she morphs into a tangible emotional state. In another scene she is trapped and lost with a bag closed over her head. She is wearing the baggage; her screams are muffled as she is consumed by the experience. The intensity of her work process is obvious.
There are interviews with her colleagues, her parents, her brothers and with Sol Ulbrich, her partner of 8 years, with whom she shared a 'deep passionate interconnection on every level'. In the dance works, the use of music is as disturbing and startling as the choreography, with eclectic, ethereal and repetitive phrases that often jar with discord. Watching some of the performance scenes during the world tour during which her collaborators mount her works, never fail to intrigue - such is their extremity as bodies writhe, fly and become one with the work. Such unbridled creativity harbours a dark side and the price paid for a life in movement is revealed with stark and moving clarity in this fascinating tribute to a unique talent.
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LIFE IN MOVEMENT (M)
CAST: Documentary about Tania Liedtke and featuring Solon Ulbrich, Anton, Kristina Chan, Julian Crotti and others
PRODUCER: Sophie Hyde
DIRECTOR: Bryan Mason (co-director Sophie Hyde)
SCRIPT: Sophie Hyde, Bryan Mason
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Bryan Mason
EDITOR: Bryan Mason
MUSIC: DJ TR!P (Tyson Hopprich)
RUNNING TIME: 80 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Antidote
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 12, 2012
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