October 2011

Arts & Letters

Contemporary dance masterpiece

By Deborah Jones
Tanja Liedtke - ‘construct’, 2007

There are no Ring Cycles or Mahabharatas in Australian contemporary dance. The scale is frequently small and it is a fleeting art that depends crucially on its performers in a specific time and place. Since 2000, Stephen Page’s Skin, Garry Stewart’s Birdbrain, Lucy Guerin’s Structure and Sadness, Gideon Obarzanek’s Glow and Meryl Tankard and Paul White’s The Oracle live alertly in the memory, which is their only repository. But if one work must be selected to be first among equals, it is Tanja Liedtke’s construct.

construct premiered in London, with Liedtke in the cast. She died in an accident three months later, making this her last work. The physical reality of making things, particularly something as emotionally charged as a home, framed a study of the building and breaking of relationships. Construction implies competence, practicality, strength and creativity. There is a need for balance, ingenuity, problem-solving and co-operation. A structure can be a home or a prison; it can stand or it can fall. In Liedtke’s hands these literal and metaphorical notions were effortlessly entwined and animated with wit, joy, playfulness, sorrow, anguish and loss. The resonances were deep and intimate, sometimes troubling, yet rarely losing touch with life-affirming humour.

—Deborah Jones

Deborah Jones
Deborah Jones is the former arts critic for the Australian.

Cover: October 2011

October 2011

From the front page

John Setka quits Labor

Anthony Albanese gets a much-needed win… of sorts

Illustration

A traditional landscape

The UAE hosts a rare public exhibition for the colossal native title painting ‘Ngurrara Canvas II’

Illustration

Broome’s bushman astronomer

Greg Quicke’s mission to help people understand the stars

Hard-pressed

The government appears to be dragging its heels on media law reform


In This Issue

Scene from 'The Theft of Sita'. Image courtesy of Melbourne Festival.

Music theatre masterpiece

An Australian–Indonesian production - ‘The Theft of Sita’, 2000

Words: Shane Maloney | Illustration: Chris Grosz

Robert Helpmann & Anna Pavlova

Theatre masterpiece

Tom Wright & Benedict Andrews - ‘The War of the Roses’, 2009

The incendiary Meow Meow, 2011. © Magnus Hastings

Queen of the night

Meeting Meow Meow


More in Arts & Letters

Still from Todd Phillips’ ‘Joker’

No one’s laughing now: Todd Phillips’ ‘Joker’

A gripping psychological study of psychosis offers a surprising change of pace in the superhero genre

‘Penny Wong: Passion and Principle’

‘Penny Wong: Passion and Principle’

Margaret Simons’ biography of one of the country’s most admired politicians

Patricia Cornelius

Patricia Cornelius: No going gently

‘Anthem’ marks the return of the Australian playwright’s working-class theatre

East Melbourne liturgy


More in Masterpieces

Poetry masterpiece

Jennifer Maiden - ‘Friendly Fire’, 2005

© Sergio Dionisio/Getty Images

Design masterpiece

Marc Newson - ‘Qantas A380 Economy Seat’, 2008

Fiction masterpiece

JM Coetzee - ‘Summertime’, 2009

© Chris Harvey

Architecture masterpiece

Lindsay & Kerry Clare - ‘Gallery of Modern Art’, Queensland, 2006


Read on

Photograph of Harold Bloom

Canon salute

Remembering Harold Bloom (July 11, 1930 – October 14, 2019)

Image from ‘Judy’

Clang, clang, clang: ‘Judy’

The Judy Garland biopic confuses humiliation for homage

Image of Joel Fitzgibbon and Anthony Albanese

Climate of blame

Labor runs the risk of putting expediency over principle

Afterwards, nothing is the same: Shirley Hazzard

On the splendour of the acclaimed author’s distinctly antipodean seeing


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