Liz Lea in a study for 'RED'. Photo: © Nino Tamburri

Liz Lea. ACT City News Artist of the Year 2017

Liz Lea, Canberra-based dancer, director, and choreographer, has been named ACT ’City News’ Artist of the Year for 2017. The decision was reached at a plenary session of the Canberra Critics’ Circle and announced at the ACT Arts Awards ceremony on 27 November. Lea’s citation read:

For her unwavering commitment to, and focus on making, directing and promoting dance in the ACT, in particular for the inclusiveness that characterises her work and for her charismatic leadership of the inaugural BOLD Festival in March 2017.

2017 has been an exceptional year for Lea, and what follows is a longer citation:

Over the past decade, Canberra-based dancer, choreographer and director, Liz Lea, has galvanised dance audiences in the ACT with her commitment to developing their expectations about what dance is, who can perform it and where it can happen. Her work is distinguished by its inclusiveness. She works with artist of all ages, of varying abilities, and of all ethnic groups and she makes sure she acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land on which her choreography is being performed.

In 2017 she made a major contribution to Canberra’s dance culture by presenting, without any external funding, the BOLD Festival, which took place in the ACT over three days in March. This venture offered an exceptionally varied program of lectures, demonstrations, films and performances. Participants and audience members represented a wide range of arts backgrounds and dance genres and came from across the country for this exceptional initiative. The festival took advantage of Canberra’s wealth of venues for presentation and performance, including the National Film and Sound Archive, the National Library of Australia, the National Gallery of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery, and Gorman & Ainslie Arts Centre.

Lea’s own performance and choreographic activities in 2017 have included her work That extra ‘some, performed as part of Escalate a mentoring program for ACT-based young people, of which Lea is a primary mentor. In That extra ‘some Lea worked with Down Syndrome dance artist Katie Senior, which required Lea to develop a new approach to choreography. In addition, in 2017 Lea performed in India Meets, a program that she initiated to bring to a close an Australian tour by acclaimed British-Indian dancer Seeta Patel. In yet another example of Lea’s commitment to developing an ACT dance culture, her India Meets program included dance performances from Canberra-based Indian practitioners. Lea has also presented small works around the city as part of various special events for 2017 including during Dance Week and Science Week. Throughout the year she has continued her ongoing interest in presenting dance as an aid to understanding scientific processes with the development of schools’ programs concerning coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef.

In 2017 Lea was the recipient of an Australian Dance Award for Outstanding Achievement in Community Dance. Her unwavering commitment to, and focus on making, directing and promoting dance has put the spotlight on the ACT and moved the Territory into a position where it can now claim to have a truly vibrant and unique dance culture.

Lea is currently working on a new solo show, RED, scheduled for showing in 2018.

Michelle Potter, 27 November 2017

Featured image: Liz Lea in a study for RED. Photo: © Nino Tamburri

Liz Lea in a study for 'RED'. Photo: © Nino Tamburri

3 thoughts on “Liz Lea. ACT City News Artist of the Year 2017

  1. Good to read about this wonderful woman. Go Liz Lea.

    For some reason Liz’s enthusiasm reminded me of the courses in dance studies and appreciation conducted at the University of New England in Armidale, led by Peggy van Praagh, in 1967 and 1969. They were fortnight-long residential courses, very well attended, and very well organised. All manner of people were there and I made friends for life.
    Beth Dean, Victor Carell, Eric Westbrook – Garth Welch, Marilyn Jones, Karl Welander, Jacqui Carroll, Keith Bain – and many more. Algeranoff was there, for heaven’s sake, and demonstrated the Coachman’s Dance from Petrouchka (he had danced in the premiere).

    I am still working through the references in the notebooks I filled during those fortnights.
    Does anyone else remember the courses, or did I just dream them up?

    Films were screend – A Dancer’s Wold /Martha Graham – and The Moor’s Pavane by Jose Limon

  2. Thanks Jennifer. Liz overflows with enthusiasm, you are right.

    I was also interested to read your thoughts about those Armidale experiences. I went to one in the 1970s. The highlight of my time there was watching Graeme Murphy, still emerging rather than established, creating on the spot. Then in 2002 I wrote an article in National Library of Australia News about those summer schools. Here is the link:

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