Life in Movement

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Life in Movement

Life in Movement

Life in Movement

When I was in Melbourne, I was given tickets to see the documentary, Life in Movement (thanks Rose). And then, on my flight back home, it was also screened on one of the movie channels on my plane. Some things are more than just a coincidence, but a gentle nudge. When I got back to Perth, I knew I wanted to talk about it and write about it, so I contacted the production team behind the documentary, who were kind enough to send me the images in this post, as well as some information on it.

This was a few weeks ago, and I meant to write about Life in Movement immediately after. But, something stopped me. I say this all the time, but some things just move me so much that they paralyse my ability to translate my emotions into words or coherent narrative. It’s so incredibly frustrating, because they’re usually the things I want to talk about the most. I’ll do my best to describe how and why this documentary moved me so much, but I’m afraid I won’t do it justice. So before I begin, I hope those of you in Australia get the chance to see it yourself in the cinemas, if it’s still showing. And if you can’t see it in the cinemas, it’ll be available on DVD for everyone to see soon.

First, I’ll let you know what Life in Movement is actually about, as described on the documentary’s website:

In 2007 the Sydney Dance Company appointed 29-year-old choreographer Tanja Liedtke as their first new artistic director in 30 years. However before she could take up the position, she was struck and killed by a truck in the middle of the night. Admired internationally as a dancer and celebrated for her fresh choreographic voice, she was known as a dedicated artist, intelligent, dorky, funny and generous. 18 months after her death her collaborators embark on a world tour of her work, and in the process they must deal with their grief and explore the reasons for her death. Interspersed with intimate footage of her artistic process and previously unseen interviews, Life in Movement is a film about moving creatively through life and loss. Filmmakers Bryan Mason and Sophie Hyde give us a powerfully rendered take on art and artists, creativity and our own mortality.

Sophie Hyde wrote a touching post on Tanja for Behind Ballet, and was going to answer some questions about Life in Movement on my blog. However, as she was leaving for America and very busy, I decided not to add to her workload. Thank you for the offer though, Sophie.

The thing about this documentary that really got me – that seemed to grab at my insides – is Tanja’s amazing body; a body that could do so much, that could express so much, that didn’t waste its talent, energy or generosity of spirit, but that lived every movement to its fullest. One of the most interesting things about Life in Movement is that you see footage of Tanja goofing around as a dorky teenager on camera, interspersed with her live performances and rehearsal scenes where she choreographed her dance. Her dancing and choreography don’t linger behind a wall of containment within which so many of us hide, projecting an idea of who we’re supposed to be to the world, rather than who we really are. Instead, like her teenage self, they are wholly vibrant, honest and exposed. Art doesn’t get any more real than that. I wish I could explain it better, but this intangible quality of exposure, and its mixed state of vulnerability and confidence, is for me the marker that separates good dancing from unforgettable, sobbing-your-heart-out, dancing.

Life in Movement

Life in Movement

Life in Movement

And then there are the people around Tanja: her partner, her friends, her family, her fellow dancers. Watching them come to terms with her death and deal with the complex beast that is grief is something that you cannot sit through unmoved. I wish I had original words to describe this, but I don’t. All I can say is that watching this documentary made me feel Tanja’s presence through the palpable loss she left in the lives of those who loved her and mourn her. As sad as this is, that’s the marker of a life well-lived. And boy did Tanja live her life well. But I guess the most touching thing of all is what her friends and colleagues have created from the remnants left behind by her life; they have created something beautiful out of loss.

To find out more about Life in Movement visit the documentary’s website. All images and the video excerpt are copyrighted to Life in Movement and are used here with permission.

P. S. Don’t forget to enter my giveaway! We’ve been having some crazy Winter weather in Perth with storms and cyclones causing some serious damage in my area. My electricity went out for over 24 hours, although that was tame compared to other places. I expect another vicious storm tonight and the power might go out again, so if your comments don’t go up immediately, don’t worry, I’ll moderate them eventually and they will be published. Fingers crossed that my power doesn’t go out again, and stay safe everyone in Perth! I’m stocking up on some candles ...


Gracia said...

Thanks Hila. Great to see these images from Life in Movement. I saw it last year (at the film festival) and loved those scenes you refer to of her "goofing around as a dorky teenager on camera, interspersed with her live performances and rehearsal scenes." It was so revealing and yes, no lingering "behind a wall of containment" there. I left the cinema feeling inspired and keenly aware of my body.

Stephanie said...

This looks incredible. How very sad that she lost her life, but it sounds like an incredible tribute to her memory. I'd love to see it sometime.

Mariella said...

it looks amazing, I hope I will have the chance to watch it one day. I love everything connected to dancing and this story really looks like cannot be missed, thanks for sharing

P R I M O E Z A said...

this looks amazing!

and i hope things are well and safe over there.

louise said...

I was also very moved by this documentary. How could one not be? What a life, what inspiration. xolj PS Hope you are still water tight and the candles see you through.

Kate said...

That sense of a body fully used and emotions embodied are why live dance transfixes me. The documentary sounds extraordinary and I'll seek it out. Fingers crossed the storms pass safely.

Kate said...

I know exactly what you mean about not being able to put into words how you feel about something you've watched or listened to until you can take a bit to let it digest and settle in you. I'm trying to write a music review right now and I want to be timely, but it's so hard for me to do it right away. Especially when I want to be particularly thoughtful, rather than just "listen to this now, it's great!"

Denise | Chez Danisse said...

It looks wonderful.

Be safe in your stormy weather.

Christine said...

Someone else was telling me about this. It sounds and looks amazing. I'm a bit obsessed with documentaries about the world of dance--it just seems like a magical world to me. Hopefully I can see it here in Germany soon!

Ana said...

Hila, beautiful post. I really want to meet Tanja now. Will do my best to find the documentary and also to move creatively through life and loss, what a powerful and inspiring words.

Hila said...

Gracia: Me too, that's precisely how I felt. Everything she did was so physical, and so vibrant.

Stephanie: it really was quite heartbreaking to watch, but this documentary isn't depressing at all.

Mariella: I think you'll like it, and you should be able to watch it via dvd (I hope).

Primoeza/Elizabeth: Thank you! The worst of the stormy weather is over, but it left a trail of destruction. I've been really lucky myself, I feel sorry for other people who had damages or extensive power outages.

Louise: all is well, thankfully!

Kate: I too am fascinated by people who use their bodies to express, while I'm battling away with words.

Kate: ditto, that's how I felt too. I had so much I wanted to say, but it just came out as "this is fantastic, go see it!"

Denise: thanks, I'm well and safe!

Christine: I hope you can, who knows, it might appear in some film festival.

Ana: I think so too, this whole documentary was really inspiring.

hungryandfrozen said...

Sounds utterly wonderful and utterly sad - will seek it out.

T C said...

that is incredible beauty in her movements, sad she is not here, but there will be a living memory through that documentary.

Rambling Tart said...

Thank you so much for telling us about this beautiful woman, life and story, Hila. I will look for it. How wonderful for her loved ones to be able to remember her in this way.

Hila said...

hungryandfrozen: yes, it's exactly that.

TC: I think this documentary is incredibly brave.

Rambling Tart: I thought of what a wonderful tribute this is too as I was watching it.

steph said...

ah, beautiful, i'm so happy to see this on your blog! i'm actually doing some work on the film soph and bryan are working on at the moment! closer productions are such an exciting team, i feel pretty lucky to be involved in a tiny way.

it's such a beautifully made film, a gorgeous tribute to a woman who was so vibrant and significant to many. i hope it gets the recognition it deserves further afield.

hope you're well!

Hila said...

That's sp great Steph, what kind of work are you doing with them?

I hope this documentary gets the recognition it deserves overseas as well.

I hope you're well too!