[Published in The Big Issue, Issue #404, April 6 2012]
When Tanja Liedtke was killed in 2007, she had the world at her feet. The 29-year-old choreographer had just finished a global tour of her latest show construct, a highly autobiographical work about the pains we endure to build our ideal life. She was about to begin her dream job as Director of Sydney Dance Theatre.
Documentary-maker Bryan Mason had already begun filming prior to Liedtke’s death, lending Life in Movement an uncanny quality (comparable to last year’s Pina). Mason has pieced together footage from her boarding school adolescence, her many performances and her obsessive documentation of the development process, as well as following her partner and colleagues as they mount a posthumous world tour of her oeuvre. The film’s non-chronological structure, drifting between the years before and after her death, makes Liedke’s presence overwhelming throughout.
Like Pina Bausch, Liedtke’s life was lived through her work. This portrayal at-times borders on hagiography, but still offers fascinating insight into a true artist and the extreme perfectionism that drove her.