Virtuosic repertoire to simple decisions: Tanja Liedtke’s legacy continues

In January 2017, QL2 was honoured to host a Tanja Liedtke Foundation “Inspiring Dance” workshop. The Foundation’s purpose is to preserve the artistic legacy of Tanja Liedtke — “one of the shining lights of Australian contemporary dance”, to support the development of contemporary dance theatre and foster Australian/European artistic connections.

The workshops are delivered by dancers who worked with Tanja, continuing the legacy of her work and working methods. The participants were wide-ranging, including young professionals, university dance students, and members of our Quantum Leap ensemble. Three of the partipants have written about their experience: local professional Alison Plevey, final year university dance student Alana Stenning, and Quantum Leap dancer Patricia Hayes Cavanagh. [PHOTOS: LORNA SIM]

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Alison: As a working artist, teacher and producer, I revel in any opportunity to engage in physical research, dance making and personal reflection. But this is something special.

The Tanja Liedtke workshops enabled not only a deepening and a playful approach to the questioning, training and rigour of being a dance artist, but enabled timely reflective time through the vehicle of dance.

Established and cherished artists and long time collaborators of Tanja, Amelia McQueen and Kristina Chan led the three days, creating a space and proposing exercises that are what they describe as ‘a continual evolution of the influence that Tanja has impressed on them as artists and as people.’

Joined by young QL2 dancers, Quantum Leap alumni, and fellow professional artist Jamie Winbank we all began a practice of awareness to body and more potently to mind. From virtuosic repertoire from Tanja Leidke’s ‘Construct’ to open improvisations that focus on the simple decisions of how we choreograph space, we all threw ourselves in to crack open new ideas of what dance can be for us and for audience.

A fave moment: I found myself bringing a bike helmet into the studio and using it as a choreographic catalyst.

In my third year participating in this workshop, I thought it perhaps might get repetitive. But the organic growth of both Amelia and Kristina’s approach — bringing to the table what interests them now — has enabled a similar evolution for us as participants inside it.

The workshop concluding with an informal witnessing of ‘practiced’ ideas a generous way to further share the incredible legacy of Tanja’s work and life.

Thank you to QL2 Dance, The Tanja Liedtke Foundation, Amelia and Kristina for their commitment to this workshop program. It is an enriching experience for young, emerging and established artists of Canberra who so rarely receive these opportunities.

Alison Plevey: |

Patricia: The Tanja Liedtke workshop was an incredible experience, unique in many ways but comfortingly familiar in others. With the ever charming help of Kristina Chan, whose way of working was very fluid but physically demanding, and the thought-provoking Amelia McQueen, whose questions and speeches inspired everyone to think deeper and explore further, the three-day workshop opened up new ways to think, create, and explore movement in a way I had never considered before. Always mentally challenging, and at times very physically challenging, the Tanja Liedtke workshop was a unique experience unlike anything I have ever done. The film shown changed my view of the way in which people can work. Seeing the very first rehearsals for “Twelfth Floor” in the theatre where we were watching the film, and the interview that took place just a few seats to my right, many years ago, gave me an incredible insight into the history and connection of Tanja Liedtke and QL2, and made me so much more grateful for the experience that I was having.

Alana: I first did the workshop in 2014, the first time that QL2 hosted it. Since then I’ve moved cities to start tertiary dance and it has still always stayed with me as one of the most valuable experiences in my dance education. This time, the workshop fell right at the very beginning of my final year of tertiary dance and it was probably the best way to have started a full on and stressful year. As always Amelia and Kristina challenged more than just my physical ability but also my mind: challenging the heavily ingrained ways of thinking of my tertiary institution, and reminding me that dance and thought on dance exist beyond my university bubble. Tertiary dance can be all-consuming, and being exposed to different approaches is the most refreshing experience and sometimes the most challenging. Through the workshop, I wanted to challenge myself to get things “wrong” — or even to question if there is a “wrong”. Sometimes the greatest learning comes from failing, or the most interest comes from exploring things differently to how you “should”. Being in an open and respectful space gave us all the room we needed to do these things. In such a competitive environment as tertiary dance failing or not being “perfect” is not an option to you. When you have boxes to check off on an assessment sheet or a solo that you’re fighting for against ten other talented and amazing dancers, getting it wrong or pushing yourself beyond your limits doesn’t feel like a viable option. What I got most from the workshop this year was whether this is the best way for me to really be learning? Do I simply want to be “the best” or do I want to continue to learn and find interest in my practice? Working with Amelia and Kristina is always an invitation to try something new and think a different way and I will never cease to be grateful for their wisdom and openness.

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About Gary

Gary is General Manager at QL2 Dance, previously General Manager at the Australian Choreographic Centre which developed the approach to youth dance programs which forms the core of QL2's work. He is a recovering computer programmer and live sound engineer. He discovered social dance through contemporary dance.