Wednesday, 21 June 2017

REVIEW: THE SPEECH - Lisi Estaras & Irene Russolillo

Fri 16 Jun
The Italian Cultural Institute

Intercontinental Drifts #1
Lisi Estaras & Irene Russolillo THE SPEECH


Curated by TripSpace, in partnership with The Place and The Italian Cultural Institute, Intercontinental Drifts presents engaging dance from national and international emerging dance artists. Beginning the first in the four part series of national and international contemporary choreography, Italian choreographer Irene Russolillo presents THE SPEECH. After her performance, Russolillo joined producer and programmer Betsy Gregory in a short and enlightening post-show Q&A.

Unlike other contemporary dance works, Russolillo created THE SPEECH in collaboration with another artist- Lisi Estaras, long-time collaborator of Alain Platel/ Les Ballets C de La B. As discussed in the post-show Q&A, choreographing in collaboration with another artist is rather unusual. But in its unusual-ness, unexpected discoveries are often made. For instance, as Russolilllo described, a new way of "fitting" a phrase onto a dancer's body, or a more daring accompaniment.

Russolillo begins slow, moving in fragmented steps. She wears a floaty romantic dress- something she apparently wouldn't normally do, another unusual result of creative collaboration. The emphasis is on language and communication; she stumbles and stutters, eventually uttering Carley Rae Jepson's lyrics "I threw my wish in the well". Switching between English and Italian, her Italian rolls off the tongue, tumbling effortlessly compared to her faltering English. 

Irene Russolillo in THE SPEECH (PC: Ilaria Costanzo)

Jarred movement, and a fragmented port de bras, is paired with operatic singing and tinny electronic sounds. There's a vulnerability and a sensuousness about her performance. Heavy- or even orgasmic- panting seems to work in an interesting opposition with feelings of panicked frustration. She sprays the front row with saliva, as her breathing becomes heavier and her stuttering more violent. While this proximity between performer and observer doesn't always sit well with audience members, Rusollilo is effective in breaking the fourth wall. She dissolves the safe division between us and her. We are intimately involved in her performance and connected to her journey.

Rusolillo and Estaras's various journeys seem to meet at a tributary. The broken lyrics, frustrated stuttering, and brief moments of singing culminate in Russolillo's full bodied dancing to Carley Rae Jepson's Call Me Maybe. From start to finish, Rusolillo is defiant and rebellious.


- Maya Pindar


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