15 April 2021

Dance brings worlds together at The Point

| Belco Arts
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Male and female dancers from 'The Point'

The Point is inspired by iconic historical figures in dance and design. Photo: Liz Lea Dance Company.

Bringing together a multicultural cast of dancers, nationally acclaimed contemporary performers and years of research and travel, The Point is shaping up to be the dance event of the year.

Canberra-based creator Liz Lea and her collaborators have crafted a groundbreaking new work that utilises the power and beauty of classical Indian dance and cutting-edge lighting design to explore connections between people and place.

Inspired by the notion of Bindu – the point in Hindu metaphysics where all creation begins and is ultimately unified – The Point traces the threads of history that have led Lea to this central moment, serendipitously bringing together Canberra, India and the lives of iconic historical figures in dance and design.

On first inspection, architects Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin might seem to hold a rather tenuous link to a multicultural contemporary dance production, but their vision is very much alive and present in Lea’s work.

The Griffins’ relationship with India is relatively well known here in the nation’s capital. Walter spent his final days in India and was deeply influenced by the architecture of the country. He felt at home there and Marion soon joined him.

Their joint designs reflected their new surroundings. He died on 11 February, 1937, and is buried in the Indian city of Lucknow.

Dancers Vanaja Dasika and Suhasini Sumithra

Dancers Vanaja Dasika and Suhasini Sumithra. Photo: Andrew Sikorski.

The Griffins’ connection to Australian dance royalty is a lesser-known tale involving the aptly named dancer Louise Lightfoot, who was the first female recipient of a degree in architecture from the University of Melbourne and worked for the Griffins for several years.

That is, until she witnessed the world’s most famous prima ballerina, Anna Pavlova, during her first tour of Australia in 1926. By 1928, Lightfoot had left the Griffins’ office and went on to establish the precursor to today’s Australian Ballet.

Both Lightfoot and Pavlova were drawn to India throughout their lives. Pavlova’s dance company travelled across India, a route which Lea would follow in 2008. Lightfoot became the first known Australian woman to train in classical Indian dance and the first person to bring classical Indian dance to Australia.

Having studied classical Indian dance since 1992 and written a dissertation on the subject, Lea increasingly found herself at the centre – or the Bindu – of the interlocking triangles of history, and the inspiration for The Point was born.

Dancer Sushasini Sumithra

Dancer Sushasini Sumithra. Photo: Andrew Sikorski.

Due to delays caused by COVID-19, The Point is also premiering in the year that marks the 150th anniversary of Marion Mahony Griffin’s birth – another welcome alignment for Lea.

Featuring a stunning range of internationally experienced classical Indian dancers, Lea says she is humbled by the work and artistic efforts of the artists, and “a new offering comes from the universe daily”.

The Point is presented by Liz Lea Dance Company and Belco Arts, debuting at The Theatre at Belconnen Arts Centre on 29-30 April and 1 May, 2021. Tickets are on sale now at Belco Arts.

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