Gudirr Gudirr – Sydney Morning Herald – Jill Sykes

Gudirr Gudirr review: A feisty response to a complex life

This show is a one-off in every way. It is essentially a solo dance piece performed by Dalisa Pigram, who choreographed it with Koen Augustijnen. But it is so much more.

In just an hour, Pigram gives the audience insights into her life growing up in Broome with a mixed heritage of Aboriginal Australian, Malay and Irish ancestors.

The unique and engaging language of her dance embraces them all in subtle ways, illustrating the woman she has become. Her strong personality, both outgoing and reflective, powers her performance.

And this goes far beyond the individual as she indicates the joy and the sadness of life around her. The bad side is illustrated specifically by a street-fight video in Vernon Ah Kee’s sensitive set design. Yet you can sense though her thoughtful actions, plus some words, that this is merely the surface of many deeper problems in her community and beyond.

The cleverness of Gudirr Gudirr is the way it makes its points through changing moods. It is not a litany of misery, it is a feisty response that carries the audience with it.

For instance, Pigram’s frustration erupts in a verbal spray that has us all laughing. She displays circus skills as she twists and turns in a hanging fishing net, a sequence that suggests the physical manifestation of her mental and emotional turmoil at the world around her.

In this, she is vividly partnered by recorded music that is easy on the ear and a driving force behind what we see. It is disappointing that there was not so much as a photocopied sheet of paper available to give the performers the credits they deserve and some background to Marrugeku, the company, of which Pigram is co-artistic director.

It’s good to see two outstanding Indigenous presentations side by side at the Sydney Opera House. While Bangarra’s Dark Emu has two weeks to run, Gudirr Gudirr ends tomorrow. Catch it if you can.