Sunday, December 4, 2022


Chameleon Collective performing "Golden Ratio"
Photo: Andrew Sikorski

Devised and Directed by Liz Lea for The Stellar Company, Belco Arts and Canberra Dance Theatre.

Lighting Design by Linda Buck

Belconnen Arts Centre 3rd & 4th December.

Reviewed by Bill Stephens.

Devised and presented to co-incide with the International Day of People with Disability, “A Stellar Lineup” proved to be a surprisingly  affecting  showcase for the many Canberra  organisations engaged in providing inclusive programs and opportunities for those who identify as disabled, HOH (hard of hearing), chronically ill, neurodiverse or have lived mental health experience.

Drawing on the talents of such diverse groups as Ignite Makers,  the Zest Dancers, the Chameleon Collective,  Project Dust, The Deaf Butterflies  and Canberra Dance Theatre’s  GOLD Company, Liz Lea has drawn on her own considerable professional theatrical skills and   taken advantage of the superb staging facilities of the Belconnen Arts Centre to provide a professional setting to  showcase the many ways the talented enablers  involved in these various organisations provide  opportunities for hitherto unexpected talents to flower.

Even before the audience entered the auditorium a procession of white figures dressed in spectacular wearable art devised by IGNITE Makers signalled that this was to be a memorable performance.  Following these figures into the auditorium the audience was greeted by about thirty members of the ZEST dancers seated on stage. 

Led by Jane Ingall, Philip Piggins, Jacqui Simmonds and Debora Di Centa, The ZEST dancers, who include people with Parkinsons and other mobility and neurological issues specialise in chair dancing and their entertaining interpretations of several Elvis Presley songs were convincing proof that these conditions need not be a bar to busting a move.

An inspiring short film by Christian Doran, edited by Arianna Bosi, and filmed in the burnt-out ruins of Mt. Stromlo featuring members of the Chameleon Collective performing to music of the constellations recorded by the Griffyn Ensemble, was followed by a performance by an emerging First Nations dance group, Project Dust, directed by Emma Laverty, which included a very young dancer who captivated the audience with his determination to execute all the dance moves correctly.

The Deaf Butterflies performing "Singing In The Rain"

The Deaf Butterflies, led by Gretel Burgess and Debora di Centa, also captivated with two items, both performed in front of beautiful atmospheric films by Justin Ray and Liam Budge and edited by Liz Lea.  “Singing In The Rain” for which the Gene Kelly lyrics were interpreted by Auslan interpreter, Brett Olzen, and “Spring”.

An engaging duet performed by Nat Thomas and Charlie Wan, loosely based on the ABC program “You Can’t Ask That” but entitled “Why would you SAY That?” gave a sneak peek into the daily interactions they experience as Disabled mothers, queer people and performers.

 Dancer, Emily Knight, of the Chameleon Collective followed with a striking solo which she choreographed with Courtney Tha to the music of John Metcalfe in front of visualization by Dylan Nelson.

GOLD  Dancers performing "No regrets

A program highlight was provided by the GOLD (Growing Old Disgracefully) dancers with the world premiere of a delightful new work, choreographed by Liz Lea, entitled “No Regrets”. Outrageously costumed in feathers and spangles the group lived up to its name with some cheeky fun, performed with precision and gusto, which had the audience in stitches through-out, and certainly justified the title.

Chameleon Collective performing "Golden Ratio"

However the best was kept till last when the Chameleon Collective performed a stunning new work to music by Vivaldi, and choreographed by Liz Lea. Entitled “Golden Ratio” and based on the Fibonacci Sequence,  Brydie Bulley, Anna Connelly, Katie Senior, Emily Knight, Neave Darmody, Lataesha Marsden,  Karin Adriansdatter, Sabrina Madafarri, led by Liz Lea, and costumed in glittering white sequins, performed together and individually.

To a poetic spoken soundtrack expounding the beauty of difference, each of the dancers was spotlighted in front of glowingly beautiful images of themselves, filmed by Andrew Sikorski and edited by Arianna Bosi.

It was a powerful, revealing and masterful work which provided a stunning finale to a superbly presented program. 

This review first published in the digital edition of CITY NEWS on 3rd December 2022.