Liz Lea Dance at the Edinburgh Fringe

Liz Lea reports that her show, 120 Birds, has just concluded its run at the Edinburgh Fringe. She says they ‘did well’ but the reviews suggest she and her dancers did a little more than well. It sounds like a knockout. Let’s hope Lea finds an Australian venue for the show.

Liz Lea and company in '120 Birds'
Liz Lea and company in 120 Birds

Extracts from reviews:

‘Liz Lea mines the very female environment of Anna Pavlova. The world’s most famous ballerina, back in the 1920s she famously crossed the globe in a series of exhausting and exhaustive tours. In 120 Birds, a cast of four recreate both the brutal toughness and the exhilarating glamour of a ballet company out on the road, mixing live performance with vintage film footage.’ (Judith Mackrell, The Guardian)

‘What a treat this invented slice of dance history is. Inspired by the international touring of such dance legends as Anna ‘The Dying Swan’ Pavlova early in the 20th century, Liz Lea has mounted a fabulously ambitious little show for which she co-designed the drop-dead-gorgeous costumes. The glamour puss dancer-choreographer also takes the lead, narrating the saga of a fictional Australian troupe and its breathless adventures on the road. The moves Lea and three fine dancers execute are mainly her smart, stylish take on social dance, ranging from the tango and Charleston to the waltz, with a treasure trove of archival film footage as backdrop.’ (Donald Hutera, The List)

‘Liz Lea’s 120 Birds … draws inspiration—and a fabulously sparkly-swishy array of frocks—from the globe-trotting adventures of 1920s touring dance companies, with Anna Pavlova’s career an especially iconic source. Against a fascinating backdrop of old film clips, Lea and her three dancers fleet-foot it through the various crazes—including the smouldering tango—that were all the rage, while weaving them into a retrospective celebration of how ballet and contemporary dance evolved. Great fun, with some elegant hoofing in there too.’ (Mary Brennan , Herald Scotland)

‘With a little de-cluttering, this tribute to ballet star Anna Pavlova is a five star show waiting to happen. Lea is a true performer with real stage presence, turning her very able hands to acting, dancing, direction, choreography, costume design and writing. As the audience filed out post-show, one word kept coming up time and again—”fabulous”—undeniably the perfect adjective.’ (Kelly Apter, Edinburgh Festivals)

‘120 Birds … choreographed by and starring the pouting, flirting, strutting ‘Madam’ Liz Lea, is a gem. Based on an international tour that Anna Pavlova made in the 1920s to Sydney (travelling with, yes, 120 birds), this story of a young Australian company following in her footsteps is told through dance, fantastic archive footage and fashion from the period. There are more costume changes in 120 Birds than Katy Perry pulled off at last week’s Teen Choice Awards.’ (Chitra Ramaswamy, Scotland on Sunday)

And for a little more on the title, quite by accident I came across the following item in The Sydney Morning Herald for 8 November 1934, a charming story about Pavlova and those birds.

Michelle Potter, 28 August 2010

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