Brolga 27 an Australian journal about dance

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In This Article


On the cover of Brolga 26, Janet Vernon rises (Venus from the waves) out of water into the light and air of a new world. An invisible god carries her skyward; she and he form one composition; the bathtub is momentarily her shrine, the sacred shell bearing her to shore, and all the scene is filled with magical light.

Janet Vernon held aloft by Ross Philip in Graeme Murphy’s Some Rooms. Sydney Dance Company, 1983. Photo: Branco Gaica 1992

It was true: the Sydney Dance Company showed us life raised to the intensity of myth, and, as often happens, the creativity emanating from one enterprise energized the surrounding scene. Some Rooms premiered in 1983. These were great days for Australian dance.

Brolga 27, by contrast, is shadowed by loss. Graeme Murphy and Janet Vernon have left the company they fostered with such dedication. SDC’s incoming Artistic Director, Tanja Liedtke, was killed in a road accident in the early hours of August 17, and her outstanding talent will never be seen by the audiences it deserved. And just a few weeks earlier another great contributor to the Australian dance scene also died.

Geoffrey Goldie designed the productions of Chandrabhanu and the Bharatam Dance Company from 1974 onwards. Few designers have been so consistently vital and attentive to the possibilities of each new work, and while his stage was radiant with colour and pattern, sets and costumes—however sumptuous—never overwhelmed the dancing. He will be greatly missed.

Bharatam Dance Company production of Alice at the National Theatre, St. Kilda, Melbourne Photo: Jim Hooper, 1999 Courtesy: National Library of Australia.

Special thanks to Lee Christofis, Stuart Hodes and Jordan Beth Vincent for assistance with images for this issue.


An errand into two minds

In 1947 American modern dance pioneer Martha Graham commissioned a score from Italian composer Gian Carlo Menotti for a new work. The resulting collaboration, Errand into the Maze. Only a few years after premiere, another version of the piece premiered in Sydney, Australia, choreographed by Gertrud Bodenwieser to the same score.

The unique dancer

Dancer, traveller and adventurer, Peter Furness muses about what makes Australian dancers unique and why so many are driven to foreign shores to find influence and employment.