Left – Dalisa Pigram. Photo – Heidrun Lohr
Gudirr Gudirr by Dalisa Pigram and Marrugeku Theatre turns struggle into triumph. Pigram, the unique force who has created and co-choreographed Gudirr Gudirr, also performs in this hour-long dance theatre missive that addresses a multitude of Australia’s sins and sorrows. Gudirr Gudirr is the perfect balance of political, visceral, and intellectual; and guess what – it’s also funny.
Pigram and her Belgian director/co-choreographer Koen Augustijnen make the most of Pigram’s special style, which is a delicate blend of precise muscular control and grace. They incorporate elements of martial arts, gymnastics, aerial acrobatics, dance floor moves and traditional Indigenous movements, creating a portrait in action of some of Australia’s deepest, oldest, and most current cultural rifts. It may seem a lot to tackle in one hour-long dance work, but Pigram and Augustijnen are clever and savvy creators, and they weave themes and ideas together seamlessly.
Pigram isn’t just a dynamic, entrancing mover, she’s also a charming storyteller. She bounces between spoken word sequences in Indigenous languages and dialects, and she has a warm, sweet presence even as she delivers an F-word infused fountain of vitriol. She draws you in, showing you her anger, sadness and courage with innate humour and authenticity. When she’s caught in a net two storeys high, we not only feel the rush of adrenaline at witnessing such a feat, but we feel the conflict in her soul that it signifies.
Her performance is enhanced by a stirring soundscape by Sam Serruys and songs by Stephen Pigram, plus video art and set design by Vernon Ah Kee. The back wall of the set is a corrugated surface onto which is projected footage of Asian-Aboriginal faces, young and old, natural scenes presumably from Broome and its surrounds, scenes of violence between groups of young men, and one curious lizard with its head stuck in a can.
Gudirr Gudirr doesn’t back away from history, and presents the complexity of issues surrounding the past and present treatment of not only Indigenous people, but especially of mixed-race people, who are doing their best to find their own voices despite a long-standing identity crisis. The piece attempts to bring the past to the present through Pigram’s own cultural heritage. Through her eyes, we understand a range of problems, but we also see a range of joys. Most of all, we witness her triumph as an artist, as she acknowledges and grieves for the past, confronts the present in all its complexity, and looks to the future with all the hopes and obstacles yet to be realised.
Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company and Marrugeku present
Director Koen Augustijnen
Venue: State Theatre Centre Studio Underground
Dates: 7 – 9 July 2015
Tickets: $32.50 – $46.50