The death of Tanja Liedtke in August 2007 was one of the saddest things to happen to the arts in Australia in the last ten years. She was 29, a dancer and choreographer at the peak of her powers, and about to assume the artistic directorship of the Sydney Dance Company. She died after being hit by a garbage truck near her home in Crows Nest.
Filmmaker Bryan Mason, who filmed Liedtke and her company in 2004 during the creation of her first full-length dance piece, Twelfth Floor, has now directed this documentary about her life and work. Mason’s film (co-written by Sophie Hyde) is structured around the restaging of Twelfth Floor in 2009 for a commemorative European tour. Liedtke’s friends and colleagues recall her as a choreographer whose tough demands on herself and others produced miraculous work.
Interview subjects include Liedtke’s parents and her partner in life and dance, Sol Ulbrich (who co-produced the film). Liedtke would utilise a video camera when workshopping and rehearsing work, so there is plenty of footage of her in the movie too – red haired, long-limbed, beautiful, brilliant. The impact of her death on a wide range of people is heartbreakingly captured here. Dance is an ephemeral art form at the best of times: happily, this documentary offers a permanent tribute to a remarkable talent.