Review: Dancing ‘Birds’ of fancy

Share Canberra's trusted news:


“120 Birds”

Concept and Direction by Liz Lea

The Street Theatre, season closed.

Reviewed by Bill Stephens


REFERENCING the 120 birds Anna Pavlova reputedly toured with her during her 1929 Australian tour, and brilliantly utilising edited archival film sourced from the National Film and Sound Archive, Liz Lea has fashioned a disarmingly funny and delightfully elegant dance work.

She also assumes the persona of the exotic Madame Lou to narrate a highly diverting history of a fictional “Company Elle” which tours the world in the wake of Anna Pavlova, the Ballet Russes, Denishawn and Ruth St. Dennis. Madame Lou possesses a neat turn of phrase that, when she can be heard above the soundtrack of the films that illustrate the journey, might have ensured her a second career as a stand-up comedian.

As Madame Lou describes their travels, Liz Lea joins her dancers, Ash Bee, Melanie Palomares and Miranda Wheen to perform a series of cleverly choreographed numbers, some echoing influential dance styles, including fan dances and striptease, performed in variety and vaudeville programs also featuring luminaries such as Pavlova, St. Denis and Annette Kellerman.

Contributions by the CDT Burlesque Dancers add to the spectacle, while senior dancers, Toni Allen, Madeleine Bullock, Charmaine Hallam and Glenys Harris add to the charm.

This brilliant production with its elegant settings and costumes and affectionate insights into Australia’s dance history and entertainment taste at the time of Federation should be seen for a longer season, hopefully during our 2013 celebrations.

Who Can You Trust?

In a world beleaguered by spin and confused messages, there's never been more need for diverse, trustworthy, independent journalism in Canberra.

Who can you trust? Well, for more than 25 years, "CityNews" has proudly been an independent, free, family-owned news magazine, serving the national capital with quality, integrity and authority. Through our weekly magazine and daily through our digital platforms, we constantly and reliably deliver high-quality and diverse opinion, news, arts, socials and lifestyle columns.

If you trust our work online and believe in the power of independent voices, I encourage you to make a small contribution.

Every dollar of support will be invested back into our journalism so we can continue to provide a valuably different view of what's happening around you and keep free.

Click here to make your donation and you will be supporting the future of journalism and media diversity in the ACT.

Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Previous articleOur formidable music festival ends
Next articleReview: Beautiful and expressive Mozart oratorio


Leave a Reply