Interview: Luca Silvestrini Q&A

Friday 9 April 2010

Luca Silvestrini Protein Dance specialise in energetic and witty shows with the quirkiness of human behaviour at their centre – from pub culture (Publife) to therapy (On the Couch) and consumerism (The Big Sale).

Artistic Director Luca Silvestrini’s latest subject has been our society’s obsession with the body beautiful. He talks about Dear Body which has been touring the UK and comes to the Queen Elizabeth Hall on 28 & 29 Apr. 09

Tell us about Dear Body – what inspired you to make this work?

I began the planning of a project around the body towards the end of 2005 in
response to how much was going on in the field of body care and body image. Papers,
magazines, television and websites were tempting us with the latest therapies
and treatments, from the most natural remedies to the latest and ever so accessible
cosmetic modifications. I read it as general call for a total make over and I
thought: are we all going mad here? What’s behind all this? Is the body the new
religion? Fuelled with curiosity and fascinated by this obsessive centrality of
the body in the lives of so many people (including mine), my choreographic journey
started with two weeks of research and development in Birmingham which later led
me to the creation of a piece for The Place Prize 2006. The success of that short piece convinced me to expand it into *Dear Body*, a full evening show that has been touring nationally since October last year.

*Psychotherapist and author Suzie Orbach is doing a post show Q&A with you
at the QEH. What was her involvement in the project? * **I am so delighted that she has agreed to take part in the post show Q&A on
28th April. Bodies, her fascinating and alarming new book, urges us to think more about the causes
and consequences of the fact that lately the body is less of a given but more
a sort of product or brand that we feel the pressure to design and re-visit according
to the current idea of perfection. This and other urgent issues and facts around
the complex relationship we have with our bodies were part of a very interesting
conversation I had with Suzie Orbach at the very beginning of the rehearsal period
of Dear Body. The opportunity to meet a celebrated expert like her was of great importance
to the development of the piece I was planning to make. Thanks to her expertise,
my feelings and thoughts around the subject became more substantial and contextualized.
I remember leaving her studio thinking how relevant and timely it was to raise
questions and comment on the way we treat and manage the life of our bodies these
days. That conversation gave me plenty of food for thought and reinforced my determination
to make work that is significant and that connects with people’s struggles and

Protein, 'Dear Body' 28-29 April, Queen Elizabeth Hall. Photo: Johan Persson *Issues about body size/shape are probably more common among dancers than in the
average population. Is it something you are conscious about in relation to how
you work with your own dancers?*

I personally do not think this is true. Body related issues amongst the “average
population” are now as common as amongst those professionals whose jobs are strictly
connected to their bodies (not only dancers but athletes, models etc.) Susie Orbach’s
book can illuminate on this. I make work with and around the different identities
of the performers I am sharing the creative process with: the way they are, think
and feel influences and shapes the work.

*At each venue in the recent tour of Dear Body you’ve included local, non-professional
dancers. Why did you decide to do that? * **A few years ago, with our show Publife, Protein began the involvement of non-professional performers from local communities
in a touring show. That experience made me want to make this a company feature,
an essential component of my dance theatre making that helps me to better connect
with the public and the theme I am exploring in that moment. More than ever, I
felt that Dear Body was the kind of show that needed a mixed group of non-dancers
of all ages, sizes and types representing the aspirations and frustrations of
those people who put their bodies under a lot of pressure in order to change.
The involvement of a cast of 12 “ordinary” people in the show plays a crucial
dramaturgical role and has offered a unique and confidence building experience
to nearly 200 hundred people all around the country. For most of them this was
their first stage experience.

*Do you collaborate with your dancers in making work & did Sally Marie volunteer
for her central role?*

The collaboration with the dancers is always at the core of my creative process
and it continues each night the show gets performed. The wonderful Sally Marie
has been with me on the “dear body journey” from the very beginning. Honestly,
for this one I think we have chosen each other. We have discovered a mutual, strong
attachment to the subject and she became the inspiration of the piece. We have
worked very closely together to create a character that reflects all the insecurity
and instability that comes with body dissatisfaction and all the desires and dreams
of a woman who claims the right to be loved.

*Are these the last performances of Dear Body? * **They are for now, but we are currently discussing the possibility of touring
again next year. I am particularly interested in the possibility of taking it

What’s next for you?

A bit of time off first, including my first yoga retreat in Spain. During the
following months, I will be making a new site-specific piece at the Wapping Project
and I will run a performance project with a group of young people excluded from
mainstream school in Swindon. Later in the Summer, I am planning to start a period
of research towards a new piece, but I think it is too early to announce what
it will be about…

*More * **“”:

Article posted April 2009

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