‘ADT/50’ exhibition prepares to close

ADT/50 at Adelaide Festival CentreThere are only a few days left to see ADT/50 at Adelaide Festival Centre! This free exhibition celebrates Australian Dance Theatre’s 50th anniversary by looking back at its journey as one of Australia’s oldest contemporary dance companies.


Since 1965, five revolutionary artistic directors have expanded the boundaries of contemporary dance and with each artistic director, a new ADT has been forged – delivering a fresh vision, a new troupe and a new dance aesthetic. ADT/50 salutes these artistic directors – Dr. Elizabeth Cameron Dalman, Jonathan Taylor, Leigh Warren, Meryl Tankard and Garry Stewart – and their unique legacies to the company. It also gives a nod to the impact these artistic directors have had on Australia’s outstanding contemporary dance reputation worldwide.


ADT/50 showcases evocative costumes spanning ADT’s 50 years of dance, along with visual and audio recordings.


ADT owes its existence to the vision of Dr. Elizabeth Cameron Dalman and Leslie White, who founded the company in 1965 to present Australian ballet and modern dance. When White left in 1967, ADT became a purely modern dance company with new movement vocabularies and dance forms to express contemporary Australian life – the likes of which had never been seen in Australia. On display from Dalman’s years is a costume from Release of an Oath (1972), designed by Barbara Chatteris. Release of an Oath was Dalman’s response to civil war in Ireland – a touchy topic in 1972, and the costume depicts Ireland’s catholic heritage.


During Jonathan Taylor’s artistic directorship, ADT would present adventurous, progressive and sometimes provocative dance theatre. This can be seen in Ann Sinclair’s costume design for Taylor’s work Flibbertigibbet (1977) – a trio of hand-painted, patch-worked and graffitied overalls capture the lighthearted-ness of this performance.


Leigh Warren’s goals for ADT were clear: to foster Australian choreography, music and design, and to develop the company into a cohesive contemporary ensemble. Warren also took a choreographic risk with his Tu Tu Wha (1991), based on the life of Marie Antoinette, which included male dancers dressed in fantastic black tutus, harnesses and unitards.


An alumna of Pina Bausch’s Wuppertal Danz Theater, Meryl Tankard brought with her an already established choreographic aesthetic and repertoire created in collaboration with her husband, French-born photographer and visual artist Régis Lansac. The enormous success of Furioso (1993) launched Tankard’s ADT internationally and the costuming by Tankard herself, coupled with an inspired use of ropes, expressed her new direction for the company.


Having been appointed 16 years ago, Garry Stewart is ADT’s longest serving artistic director. The critical and commercial success of his work has resulted in ADT becoming one of Australia’s biggest cultural exports. Birdbrain (2000), a postmodernist deconstruction of Swan Lake, was an international success.


These are just some of the highlights of this decades-spanning retrospective.


Adelaide Festival Centre CEO and Artistic Director Douglas Gautier said, “We’re proud to be able to pay homage to ADT, a true Adelaide success story, with this carefully curated exhibition from the Performing Arts Collection. To remain at the forefront of contemporary dance in Australia, and indeed the world, is no small feat and we congratulate ADT on reaching their 50th year.”


Be sure to see the exhibit before it closes this Sunday, October 4! The Festival Theatre Foyer is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and during performance times. For further information, visit adelaidefestivalcentre.com.au.


Image courtesy of Chris Herzfeld of Camlight Productions.

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