Although the performing arts allow us to share the talent, ideas and visions of artists, the true power of art is not always visible on stage or heard in dialogues. Its secret power lies in its ability to provoke thoughts. Italian choreographer, Silvia Gribaudi, has made it her mission to use her talent to open the discussion on delicate subjects and to shake up well-anchored ideas by using humour. With her show Graces, the Prophet of the free body as some like to call her tackles headfirst the idea of body perfection and the weight our gaze has on others. We had the chance to ask Silvia a few questions as she was preparing for her very first visit to the National Arts Centre. From her vision of courage to the surprises Graces offered her, she shares with us her thoughts and wishes for Graces legacy.
NAC: You mentioned in an interview that you could take two paths as a choreographer: staying anchored to your ideas or being brave enough to let the unexpected emerge. Do you remember a moment in your career when you felt torn between those two paths and had to choose? And what was the outcome of this difficult choice?
SILVIA: “Staying anchored to your ideas or being brave enough to let the unexpected emerge” is a quotation from Pina Bausch I read in “Il teatro di Pina Bausch”, she said so when talking about her creative process. Since I was very young Pina Bausch has been a reference in arts for me, a guide, even if I never had the opportunity to meet her in person.
At some point in my career, I had to let go of the idea I had about the concept of perfection and find the courage to experiment and be what I wanted to be. Being brave enough to do something beyond one’s pleasure, being daring in a choreographic language that I felt to be consistent with the way I look at things, beyond any conventions.
As a performer and a choreographer, I offer my body to the stage to give voice to parts that are often hidden! I am talking about the fat parts of one’s body, about muscles that are not toned and can socially be a cause for shame, but in Graces, and even more in 2009 with A corpo libero, they become the protagonist of the beauty and vitality of one’s body.
NAC: During your creation process, did Graces take a life of its own? Did it bring you somewhere that you were not expecting?
SILVIA: GRACES is a constant surprise! The first place I got to know thanks to GRACES was an emotional one. I had not expected to be able to give the audience so much joy with this performance.
And then, who would anticipate we would manage to bring this joy to Canada, too? And to so many European countries! Indeed, life is full of wonderful surprises!
NAC: As a choreographer, your art form offers an idea to the public that may spark conversations. Graces, for example, touches on the theme of bodies of all shapes and sizes. A scorching topic right now with Social Media platforms saturated with retouched and filtered images. What message would you like the public to remember after the show, and how would you want them to carry this message? What would be your biggest wish for Graces legacy?
SILVIA: I would like my work to be a tool to stop and reflect on how our gaze is tying other people’s bodies.
Judgment can destroy anyone and doesn’t let their potential emerge; in my work, I am trying to de-structure our judgmental gaze when we look at others.
We need to accept it and transform it.
With Graces, as with the rest of my work as well, I wish to touch the intuitive and playful side of people, conveying vital energy that can stir desires that are different for each person, depending on their abilities and professionalism, which can also lead to the development of ideas for other people, in various professional fields.
I would like the audience to go back home inspired, I would like this energy to give them ideas about how to better deal with their daily life, with more openness towards the “bodies” they meet!