Movie review: Life in Movement

By Peter Calder

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Tanja Liedtke the subject of the documentary Life In Movement. Photo / Supplied
Tanja Liedtke the subject of the documentary Life In Movement. Photo / Supplied

German-born choreographer Tanja Liedtke was only 29 in 2007 when she was given what is probably the biggest dance job in the Southern Hemisphere - the artistic directorship of the highly regarded Sydney Dance Company.

It was, by all accounts, an audacious, even visionary choice: the precociously talented Liedtke had wowed audiences and critics since 1999, and her appointment reportedly attracted no criticism in the notoriously bitchy world of professional performance.

Yet before she even took up the job she was dead - after being struck by a rubbish truck in the small hours of August 17, 2007. This short and accomplished documentary is a tribute to her life and work.

Its tone is unsurprisingly admiring, yet there is plainly much to admire. The film is built around a "memorial tour" of Liedtke's work, organised by her partner - in life and work - Sol Ulbrich.

There is ample and thrilling footage of the subject herself and of the troupe as they recreate, rehearse and perform works that are a winning blend of precision, slapstick humour and haunting poignancy.

Mason and Hyde have painstakingly excavated a rich archive of material and Hyde's (largely handheld) camerawork - abetted by Mason's precise and intelligent editing - provide a loving and sometimes enthralling portrait of a remarkable talent.

Stars: 3.5/5
Director: Bryan Mason and Sophie Hyde
Running time: 80 mins
Rating: E
Verdict: A moving celebration of a remarkable choreographer.

- TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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