Birdbrain was Garry Stewart’s first full length work for Australian Dance Theatre and a formative insight into a new vocabulary of dance that he has brought to the company. Drawing on elements of classical ballet, contemporary dance, breakdance, yoga and gymnastics, as well as video art and electronic music, Stewart created a piece that cross examined the grande dame of classical ballet, Swan Lake, inverting the narrative completely.
‘Everyone has at least some image Swan Lake. It’s an icon that pervades our culture from the Opera House to the football club,’ Stewart said. ‘In Birdbrain I’ve drawn forward the interstices of the narrative: the action of the lovers throwing themselves across the space into the lake, and the moment of metamorphosis when the swans bodies buckle and contort back into being women again.’
First performed at the 2000 Adelaide Festival, Birdbrain became a landmark in Australian contemporary dance.