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  Australian Dance Theatre  
Birdbrain Birdbrain

Pluck all the tradition from Swan Lake, add rapid techno music and astonishing dance at breakneck speed and you've got Birdbrain; a wry, sharp look at a cultural icon from one of the world's most brazen young dance companies.

After Mats Ek and Matthew Bourne, see how they do it down under… definitely more Baz Luhrmann than Tchaikovsky.

‘A heart-stopping, eye-popping hour and 15 minutes of pure genius - a truly theatrical and demanding performance that's funky, fast and furious. Birdbrain is a slick and stylish masterpiece… a first class production that's awe-inspiring and gravity defying. A must for any lover of dance.’
Katy Evans, BBC. May 2003

Birdbrain is ADT's 'cygneture' work, and Garry Stewart's second work as ADT's artistic director. The first work to tour internationally under his directorship, it represents the intensely physical and powerful style of dance that is his trademark.

‘With frenetic energy, languid sexuality and humour, Birdbrain turned the classical ballet Swan Lake on its head, and the result: an oh-so-pleasurable blood-rush.’
Straits Times, Singapore. 3 June 2002

Drawing on elements of classical ballet, contemporary dance, breakdance, yoga, contortionism and gymnastics, Stewart tears apart the grand dame of classical ballet, and lovingly reassembles it through a blend of stunning soundscapes, surreal video art and virtuoso dance.

Birdbrain deconstructs the narrative of 'Swan Lake' and recontextualises a number of its central and satellite themes. It has astonished and delighted audiences around Australia and all over the world with its combination of incredible acrobatic choreography and its thoughtful, perceptive reference to 'Swan Lake'. Shows in Seoul, Toronto, New York, Ottawa, Galway Festival and the Singapore Arts Festival were performed to full houses and standing ovations. Press reviews were similarly enthusiastic.

‘ADT is amazing. The barefoot dancers are just at home with the beautiful high extensions and whipping fouettés of ballet as they are with the alarming pops and rolls of breakdancing. These men and women may look like fashion models but they have no qualms about leaping into the air one minute and hurling themselves at the floor the next. Nothing seems to faze them, not even the possibility of bruising. The end of Birdbrain, a flying suicidal arc over the lake, is one of the most hazardous explosions of movement seen in London in years.’
Debra Craine, The Times. May 10, 2003

Note from the Artistic Director, Garry Stewart

When I was first planning Birdbrain a couple of years ago a number of colleagues asked me why I wanted to have anything to do with 'Swan Lake' given its current re-emergence into the popular domain. But this was precisely why I was drawn to it. I wanted to examine its status in the canon of classical ballet. I was fascinated by the fact that this work continues to hold pre-eminence in the artform of dance. Birdbrain is, therefore, a cultural investigation into an historical icon.

This is not a version of 'Swan Lake'. I haven't been concerned with the representation of a linear narrative but more so with the unhinging of the narrative; looking between the crevices of the characters, the structure of the story and the examination of the culture of classical ballet itself.

For more information download the Teachers' notes

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