120 Birds tells tale of 1920s Australian dance company

This article is from 2010

120 Birds tells tale of 1920s Australian dance company

Homage to Anna Pavlova and ballet’s golden age

‘This is not a history lesson,’ explains the pre-publicity surrounding 120 Birds, one of Dance Base’s specially-commissioned works for the Fringe this year. In a way, that’s true – it’s a fictional story of the travels and travails of a 1920s Australian touring dance company, formed in homage to Anna Pavlova after the great ballerina’s visit to that country.

However, choreographer Liz Lea has not only researched the narrative aspects of the story meticulously, but she’s worked dance styles specific to the period, like the Charleston, into her narrative, as well as archive footage of Australian dance from the 1920s.

‘I play Madam Lou, artistic director and sometime diva,’ Lea says, gleefully. ‘I tell the story through the show, but may use silent film titles instead – I’ve found I’m puffing too much when I’ve just danced. Switching between acting and dancing is proving tricky!’

Dance Base, 225 5525, 12–22 Aug (not 16), times vary, £5. Preview 11 Aug, 1pm, £3.

120 Birds

  • 4 stars

Based around the international touring tales of 1920s dance companies. Company Elle is born in Australia in 1923 after Anna Pavlova first visits the country. Madam Lou raises and drags her company of four around the world following Pavlova's footsteps and meeting other companies along the way – Denishawn, Florence…