Skip Links

2006 Media Releases - Events - Sydney Opera House and Sydney Festival presents

Issued Monday, 6 November 2006 


From 17 – 27 January, Sydney Opera House together with Sydney Festival present the visionary new dance work, Kaidan, by the internationally acclaimed Australian director, choreographer and designer, Meryl Tankard.

Treating audiences to a fusion of intimate choreography, rich theatrical techniques and explosive music, Kaidanis a remarkable collaboration between Tankard, visual artist RégisLansac, six exceptional dancers and TaikOz – Australia’s leading taiko drumming ensemble.

The inspiration is based on the story ‘Of a Mirror and a Bell’ from Irish author, Lafcadio Hearn’s classic short story collection of reworked supernatural fables and haiku translations, Kwaidon. Hearn (1840 – 1904) was a writer, critic and journalist who was best known for his books which interpreted Japanese culture and civilisation to Western readers.

‘Of a Mirror and a Bell’ tells of a woman whose life crumbles when she gives away an old family mirror to be melted down with others and cast into a temple bell. The mirror, the soul of a woman, had been passed down from mother to daughter. While tragic, the story is also full of love, desire and ultimate release.

Featuring an original score composed by TaikOz and Timothy Constable, played live on stage, the music combines the heavenly strains of Riley Lee’s shakuhachi (bamboo flute), and the thunderous beats of the Japanese taiko drums as played by the seven members of TaikOz.

The shakuhachi, is used to represent the woman’s soul. The hand-held uchiwadaiko (fan drums) resemble mirrors and their Buddhist origins hark back to the temple in the story. The taiko players use a wide range of drums and percussion instruments – from the 250kg Odaiko to the tiniest temple bells – and function both as actors in the drama and commentators on the story.

Meryl Tankard has enjoyed an unprecedented career. Her visionary style of dance theatre has placed her at the forefront of dance in Australia and has resulted in accolades around the world. Beginning her career as a member of The Australian Ballet, Tankard later moved to Europe to join the acclaimed Pina Bausch Wuppertal Tanztheater where she performed as a soloist and guest artist from 1978 – 1988. In 1989 she returned to Australia and formed the Meryl Tankard Dance Company in Canberra and in 1993 was appointed Artistic Director of Meryl Tankard Australian Dance Theatre in Adelaide. She now works as a freelance choreographer in constant demand all over the world, creating Merryland for the Netherlands Dance Theatre, Bolero for Lyon Opera Ballet and Aurora, her delightfully mischievous version of the Tchaikovsky classic, The Sleeping Beauty, for the Gothenburg Opera Ballet. She choreographed the 2000 Sydney Olympics Opening Ceremony, Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical The Beautiful Game and most recently Disney’s Tarzan on Broadway. Tankard’s choreography is full of visually arresting theatre with a high dose of wit and humour.

Kaidan will be Tankard’s first major work in Sydney since Wild Swans, commissioned by The Australian Ballet and Sydney Opera House and premiering in the Opera Theatre in 2003.

TaikOz was formed in 1997 by percussionist and composer Ian Cleworth and shakuhachi grand master Riley Lee. The group has established itself as Australia's and one of the world’s most energetic, exciting and visually stunning drumming groups. Combining the awesome power of the traditional Japanese taiko drums with the ethereal tones of the bamboo shakuhachi, TaikOz seeks to explore a synthesis of East and West, old and new.

Photographer and visual designer Régis Lansac born in Lyon, France now works and lives between Sydney and Europe. Lansac is renowned for integrating photographic and film projections into stage performances creating visual designs for Tankard's works around the world.

An important aspect of this compelling fusion of dance and music is that the musicians are on stage with the dancers. This creative approach will combine dance and drums to create one big “ballet”. Seductive dance, compelling music and bold visual design combine to create an all-encompassing theatrical experience.

Preview 17 January Season 18– 27 January
Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House

Direction, Choreography and Design: Meryl Tankard
Musical Director: Ian Cleworth
Illuminations: Régis Lansac
Music: TaikOz and Timothy Constable
Shakuhachi Soloist: Riley Lee
Dancers: Waniga Blanco, Sarah Boulter, Yolande Brown,
Sarah-Jayne Howard, Kyle Page, Jan Pinkerton
Lighting: Trudy Dalgleish
Costume Co-designer: Julie Lynch

Commissioned and Produced by Sydney Opera House

Season Details: KAIDAN – A Ghost Story
Venue: Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House
Date: Preview 17 January @ 7.30pm $45
Date: Season 18 – 27 January
Times: Mon @ 6.30pm, Tuesday – Saturday @ 7.30pm, Sunday @ 2pm
Duration: 1hr 15mins, no interval
Tickets: $55/$45

Skip Links