#40: Tragedy Unfolds (2007)


21 November 2019

At the conclusion of Graeme Murphy’s 30 year tenure, Sydney Dance Company’s board had the significant task of finding a new Artistic Director. The company’s high profile saw many choreographers and directors from all over the world interested in taking up the position. Tanja Liedtke, a 29-year old German born dancer and choreographer, was ultimately appointed. “Tanja meets all of the attributes the Board sought in the successful applicant – an original choreographic voice, a clearly defined creative spirit and the energy and commitment to take Sydney Dance Company forward into the future,” said the board’s chair at the time.

It was an exciting and extraordinarily risky decision. Liedkte was as an exceptional dancer, but she had only produced one full-length work, the powerful and beautifully crafted Twelfth Floor. Nominated for five Australian Dance Awards and receiving rave reviews, the work established Liedkte as a leading choreographic voice.

In May that year, Liedkte premiered her next work construct at the Southbank Centre in London, with Allen Robertson, dance critic for The Times, writing: “The surprise of stumbling across a fresh, fully-formed talent is one of the reasons we keep going to the theatre.”

By August, Tanja’s vision for Sydney Dance Company had generated an undeniable excitement in the contemporary dance world. She understood her new role in the Australian dance ecology, and was on her way to implementing her vision and plans when tragedy struck. After attending a dance performance at Sydney Opera House, Liedkte was involved in a horrific road accident that would take her life. The tragedy was unfathomable and the way forward was shattered.

Sydney Dance Company performing at the memorial (2007)

“Liedtke’s career as a choreographer may have been short, but her success was established… her cruel loss is felt in Sydney, Australia and the world.” Sophie Travers, Real Time Arts.

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Don’t miss New Breed, our final season of 2019 from 28 Nov – 7 Dec at Carriageworks.

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