Life In Movement

Life In Movement


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Dancer and choreographer Tanja Liedtke is not a household name and, since her untimely death at just 29 years old, she is never likely to gain the international renown that she so richly deserves. But this carefully crafted and wonderfully edited documentary stands as a warm and absorbing tribute to her work, her impact on the dance scene around her and as a testimony to the joys of creativity itself.

Bryan Mason (who also brings his excellent editing skills to bear on Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure) and Sophie Hyde combine footage of Tanja talking about her career with self-shot video of the choreographer in action and set it against the backdrop of her partner Sol Ulbrich's efforts to create a memorial tour of her work. Those who worked with and clearly loved this high-energy perfectionist, recall her impact on their lives at the same time as trying to recreate her pieces in the best way they can.

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Tanja was a woman for whom emotion was important and she would capture moments alone on film that she would later go on to incorporate into her dance. Mason and Hyde have been meticulous in their study of this footage, and cleverly intertwine these 'personal' expressions of dance and emotion with segments from her shows that ultimately sprang from them. There is, for example, a scene of her hiding in a locker as a teenager, which she later goes on to use as a key moment in her dance piece Twelfth Floor. There are also shots of her slapping her own face and repeatedly saying "pull yourself together" as she increasingly falls apart that are at once jarringly violent and yet mesmerising.

Aside from being a personal testament to her life and work, bigger questions concerning the act of creativity themselves are raised. The tour group, although obviously incredibly close to one another, find themselves struggling to agree without her at the helm, while Sol is wrestling with his own inner-emotions in the shadow of 'what happens next'. Although Tanja, of course, was unable to contribute directly to the film, she stands firmly at the heart of it and Mason and Hyde have put in the effort to talk to an astonishing range of people who knew her, from friends and family to colleagues and past collaborators. Best of all, you don't need to have any prior knowledge of Tanja - or even of choreography - to appreciate this film. It has a catchy, emotional dance of its own that whisks you off your feet.

Reviewed on: 23 Jun 2011
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Life In Movement packshot
A look back at the career of a talented dancer and choreographer tragically killed at the age of just 29.
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Director: Bryan Mason, Sophie Hyde

Starring: Tanja Liedtke

Year: 2011

Runtime: 79 minutes

Country: Australia

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