This year’s Adelaide Festival opening night was one for standing ovations, and the revival of Meryl Tankard’s Two Feet, danced by internationally acclaimed Russian ballerina Natalia Osipova, certainly earned one. Commissioned for World Expo 88 by former festival director Anthony Steel, Two Feet launched the festival’s dance element in great style. Two Feet, one of Tankard’s most personal dance theatre works, reveals the struggles ballerinas endure to please their teacher’s expectations, and the cost of their own obsession with perfection. The program describes the production as a Kunstler drama, in which an artist is a protagonist, and its purpose is to realise the artist’s self. In this case it has two protagonists and unfolds through nineteen related but disjointed episodes of eccentricity, comedy, ritual, and tragedy. Essential to the production’s tonality and magnitude are the settings – vibrant, atmospheric projections, parades of historic photographs and new images by Tankard’s visual designer and life partner, Regis Lansac – lighting by Ben Hughes, and a musical collage of new, old, and fragmented music, sometimes even down to single notes. The production was a breakthrough work for Tankard, one that enhanced her reputation as a principal dancer of Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, and as a choreographer. Tankard established her first company the following year, in Canberra, where she produced some of her finest work.
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