Tivoli – the making of a dance musical

28 min documentary, produced and directed by Philippe Charluet. Network: ABC TV (Australia)

This documentary follows the making of a Graeme Murphy’s dance musical which unites the creative resources of Australia’s two premiere dance companies, the Australian Ballet and the Sydney Dance Company. Through its process and with its creators and artists, we pay tribute to the rich heritage of the Tivoli Circuit – an era of variety theatre which helped to shape Australia’s cultural identity, from the 1890’s until the last show in 1966…

Ironically television was responsible for killing off the Tivoli but this program brings it all back to life again complete with feathers, dancing girls, a 3 metre high set of legs, the Colossal Spartacus Brothers and even bare breasted ladies who, for many Australian men in those days, where their first brush with nudity.

There is an element of nostalgia to the production as the actress Toni Lamond recalls her experiences and laments the loss of opportunity for today’s live variety acts. But any nostalgia and sadness is mixed with happiness as some of the original Tivoli dancers travel back to the rehearsal room to re tell, and relive, their glory days with all the young dancers involved.

Graeme Murphy says, “We risked losing a whole genetic, theatrical link; a fact which became apparent when I discovered that all the current dancers had no knowledge at all of this great institution and the part that it plays in their own careers.

This production is a great insight into the creative efforts of the massive team of people involved in the creation of Tivoli. The costumes, the colour, the humour – it’s all there – and makes us wonder what we lost when the lights went down on ¨the Tiv¨ for ever.

The Featured video is a short documentary of the initial full-day workshop when former Tivoli circuit’s performers met for the first time the dancers, creatives and musicians/ singers. This was filmed before Tivoli was created and integrated in the 28 min documentary broadcast on the ABC.

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