by Frank McKone
A dance maker and director, whose work emphasises participation across all ages and abilities, was tonight named 2017 “Citynews” Artist of the Year at the 27th ACT Arts Awards Night at Canberra Museum And Gallery, 27 November 2017.
|Liz Lea Study for RED|
Photo: © Nino Tamburri
Courtesy, Michelle Potter, michellepotter.org
International performer and choreographer Liz Lea, who trained at London Contemporary Dance School and Akademi in London, and Darpana Academy in India, specialising in contemporary and classical Indian dance and martial arts, and who is an Associate Artist at QL2, Canberra’s Youth Dance Company, won a close contest from among four highly qualified nominees from visual arts, dance, music and theatre.
The Canberra Critics’ Circle, which judges the award, selected Ms Lea, recognising the impact of her contribution to dance in Canberra, particularly through her inspirational leadership in initiating, planning, designing, managing and directing the inaugural BOLD Festival in March 2017, with an emphasis on Australian Indigenous dance heritage.
Ms Lea, the Circle said, was remarkable for the artistic quality of her own choreography and performance, for her ability to attract top-class Australian and international dance figures to the Festival, and for her willingness and capacity in creating dance with young people through to senior citizens, saying “Our present lies in our past – BOLD celebrates the changes that come with age” and with workshops covering Dance for Disability, Inclusivity, Indigenous, Elders, Men, Indian, Cabaret, Bellydance and more.
Characteristic of her leadership were the events at venues such as the National Library of Australia and the National Portrait Gallery as part of the BOLD Festival celebration of dance as a way to promote healthy ageing, exploring how creativity can benefit health, in talks, presentations, performances and discoveries by Dr Stephanie Burridge, Dr Garry Lester, Julie Dyson AM, and many more.
In the ceremony at the Canberra Museum and Gallery, Ms Lea was presented with a framed certificate, $1000 cheque and a porcelain bowl by Canberra ceramic artist Tania Vrancic.
The Dance Panel especially noted Ms Lea’s “unwavering commitment” and “charismatic leadership” in promoting dance in the ACT. The full citation read: For her unwavering commitment to, and focus on, making, directing and promoting dance in the ACT, in particular for the inclusiveness that characterises her work and for her charismatic leadership of the inaugural BOLD Festival in March 2017.
2017 Canberra Critics Circle
Kerry-Anne Cousins . Jane Freebury . Jennifer Gall . Meredith Hinchliffe . Cris Kennedy . Rob Kennedy . John Lombard . Alanna Maclean . Graham McDonald . Frank McKone . Ian McLean . Helen Musa . Simone Penkethman . Michelle Potter . Len Power . Samara Purnell . Bill Stephens . Anni Doyle Wawrzynczak . Clinton White . Peter Wilkins . Joe Woodward
The full list of Canberra Critics’ Circle Award recipients is as follows:
For her outstanding contribution to dance in the ACT through her photography of dance, and her 2017 exhibition of dance photographs Enigma.
For their moving and elegiac dance work That Extra ‘Some’, in celebration of a remarkable friendship.
Liz Lea and Katie Senior
For her essay collection, Things That Helped, a self-aware, emotionally challenging weaving together of critical theory, artistic forays and personal experiences to comment on the subject of post-partum depression.
For giving impetus to Canberra poets, both established and new, through his imprint, Recent Work Press. Established on a cost-recovery and profit-sharing model, this has brought contemporary poetry to light in an accessible and affordable way.
For his initiative in establishing the eclectic poetry night Bad!Slam!No!Biscuit! which, since 2009, has been part of the National Folk, Canberra Fringe, and Multicultural Festivals, and Corinbank. And especially for curating The Salt Room poetry and performance nights at Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres.
For their excellent production of Summer of the Seventeenth Doll by Ray Lawler, a welcome revival of an Australian classic with heart.
For achieving outstanding performances from actors in The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer for Everyman Theatre.
For their superb ensemble production for Everyman Theatre of Alan Bennett’s The History Boys, imaginatively staged in the round.
Jarrad West and Chris Zuber
For his perceptive direction of Arthur Miller’s moving modern tragedy A View from the Bridge for Canberra Repertory.
For outstanding contributions to Canberra theatre as an actor and director and for her entrepreneurial role in taking Pigeonhole Theatre to the 16th Mondial du Théâtre in Monaco.
For her monumental, ambitious, and ephemeral public art work that, in confounding perceptions of dimensionality and place, coloured our world and blew our minds, Pattern Logic at Regatta Point.
For his marvellously curated exhibition that displayed technical virtuosity and profound understanding and empathy over two decades with pressing contemporary issues of dispossession and alienation, Modern Times at ANU Drill Hall Gallery.
This engaging, delightful and cleverly imagined exhibition celebrated a year in the life of the artist through daily acts of observation and drawing, Three Hundred and Sixty Six, at Canberra Contemporary Arts Space, CCAS Manuka.
For her moving exhibition, in which we shared her grief symbolised by the sea crashing against the jagged, rugged, rocky coast and were enthralled by the surging spray that she captured in paint, The Sea Paintings at Nancy Sever Gallery.
For her impressive exhibition that revealed the depth of investigation and innovation of her preoccupation with the exciting material and sculptural qualities of glass, and highlighted her contribution to raising the profile of contemporary studio glass in Canberra, The Land: a Twenty Year Survey at Canberra Museum & Gallery.
For her imaginative and innovative installation work that was perfectly suited to the glass-walled space of Gallery 4, Canberra Museum & Gallery. This work, constructed in fibre, was a complex exploration of the nature of drawing in a three-dimensional space that drew the viewer into a narrative that allowed innumerable viewpoints of a previously two-dimensional construct, Anatomy of a Drawing.
For the excellence of the production values and performance achieved with its Canberra Theatre production of Wicked.
Free Rain Theatre Company
For joint direction of the musical Spring Awakening for Phoenix Players. Their original vision was realised with great skill. They obtained performances with true emotional depth from their cast. The overall result was a show of enormous impact.
Kelly Roberts and Grant Pegg
For her beautifully realised performance as Roxie Hart in The Canberra Philharmonic Society’s production of Chicago.
Vanessa de Jager
For their excellent adaptation of the original Bob Fosse routines and their additional circus, mime, advanced tap and comic choreography for the Canberra Philharmonic Society production of Chicago.
Hannah Carey and Emily Appleton
For the excellence of the production values and performance achieved with its production of Avenue Q.
For their achievement in steering a project with a seven-figure budget, using local talent, local resources and building on unique locations in and around Canberra to produce a speculative sci-fi thriller that gained recognition at film festivals overseas and at home, Blue World Order.
Che Baker, Tim Maddocks, Sarah Mason
For the achievement in production and post-production, showcasing the maturity and depth of the Canberra film industry with an appealing teen drama that has secured post-theatrical rights with Disney, Rip Tide.
For her quirky, eclectic, playful hour-long composition, 7 Great Inventions of the Modern Age.
For their excellently conceived and performed concert of Northern Lights in the Fitters’ Workshop, a quite magical confluence of ideas and music in an acoustic space that was just right on a sunny winter afternoon.
For her leadership as vocalist, flautist and songwriter of the jazz band Bella Groove, and for the group’s entertaining launch of the new album City Lights at Ainslie Arts Centre.
For having turned Smith’s Alternative into a recognised and sought-after hub of music performance around the year, offering encouragement and a venue to poets and musicians – jazz, folk and classical.
For her excellent performance, rich tonal quality, obvious passion in presentation, and her crystal-clear diction as Gabriel/Eve in the SCUNA production of Haydn’s The Creation at Wesley Uniting Church.
For leading the Canberra Youth Orchestra as concertmaster in the concerts of the 2017 season celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the CYO, and for playing her solos with flair.
For their performance of 10 new works in The Australian Miniatures for Carillon concert at the Canberra International Music Festival, transporting the audience to an extraordinary dimension encompassing the intimate space around the instrument and reaching into the distance, seemingly to the Brindabellas.
Lyn Fuller and Thomas Lau
Photo by Lorna Sim