“SEEKING Biloela” is the name of a long-awaited new dance work conceived by Canberra choreographer Liz Lea, but what does it mean?“Biloela,” it turns out, is the generic word in several different Indigenous tongues, for ‘cockatoo’, and if you were at the CSIRO for Lea’s quirky but fascinating “DANscienCE” dance and science festival, you’ll know that world cockatoo expert, Denis Saunders, has been helping Lea and her colleague, dancer Tammi Gissell, enter the world of the red tailed Black Cockatoo. The resultant work is “Magnificus Magnificus,” part of a double bill opening at The Street Theatre.
Saunders even had something to do with the costume, insisting that the headdress/crest for the “Magnificus Magnificus” feature gold.
The dance, described as “a cabaretesque explosion of feathers”, celebrates the red tailed Black Cockatoo, “the bringer of truth, tears and rain,” and, Saunders told them, indigenous to the Bourke region, where Gissell was born. A preview of this work outside AITSIS early in the year made it a fitting introduction to the Indigenous program for the Centenary of Canberra.
The second work in the program, “Kapture,” created and performed by Lea, is inspired by the writings of Ahmed Kathrada, who was imprisoned alongside Nelson Mandela for 26 years, as well as a Hindi song about a trapped bird. Accompanied by tabla player Bobby Singh and jazz sax Sandy Evans, known for her musical work in India, Lea ‘flits’ between spoken and song, dance and drama.It seems the language of birds is never far from the ideas behind this program.
“Seeking Biloela”, Tammi Gissell and Liz Lea at The Street Theatre, 7.30pm, October 26 and 4pm, October 27. Bookings to 6247 1223 or thestreet.org.au