Liz began her career as a showgirl and as she began her training in Indian dance at Akademi in London she then began looking into the work of Ruth St Denis from the early 1900’s – St Denis had been a Vaudeville dancer who was inspired by India. She created series of 5 solos inspired by India which led to the foundation of modern dance through her company Denishawn. Lea has researched and re-interpreted these solos in collaboration with Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival – the only Australian to do so.
St Denis and her love of India revealed Pavlova’s love of India. in 2008 she traveled the routes taken by both the Denishawn and Anna Pavlova Companies in India in the 1920s. These trips are the subject of a documentary titled ‘On the trail of Ruth St Denis’;
It was an insane venture for a solo woman – let alone 75 dancers with 400 pieces of luggage. Research revealed that Pavlova toured with 120 birds to add to the chaos and beauty.
The idea of the work was born. Research for the work began in 2008, when Lea was in residence at Dancebase, Edinburgh. She then had a Fellow at Australia’s National Film and Sound Archive where she had full access to film, sound and photographic archives, Lea pooled this research with material garnered from the Australian National Library, National Gallery of Australia, New York Public Library and Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival.Her thorough research resulted in a montage backing film for the performance, along with music, lighting, costumes, performance style and narrative all influenced by the real life dramas of touring dance companies in the 1920s and 30s.
120 Birds was created between London, Berlin and Edinburgh in 2010 and premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2010 at Dance Base in a 2 week run with sold out houses and great reviews.