For How Much?

Mazzilli Dance Theatre perform For How Much?

Mazzilli Dance Theatre perform For How Much?

LONDON, United Kindom — Annarita Mazzilli is a dancer and choreographer based in London, where she set up Mazzilli Dance Theatre two years ago. Her most recent piece, For How Much?, explores the hidden costs of consumerism in a society where clothes have become so cheap that they can be bought and thrown away without a second thought, and where many are unaware of the networks of abuse and exploitation that make this way of life possible. She tells us a bit more about the message behind her piece, the creative process and the things that inspire her.

Annarita Mazzilli in the foreground in For How Much?

Annarita Mazzilli in the foreground in For How Much?

What inspired you to produce For How Much?

I was contacted by the International Organisation for Migration UK, which at the time was running the Buy Responsibly campaign, to choreograph a piece for an installation in Trafalgar Square and bring the public’s attention to the plight of human trafficking and slavery caused by consumer choices. For this piece, I conducted a lot of research into different stories of slave labour and exploitation and I also went to see God’s Wars,an exhibition by artist May Ayres, who uses ceramics and sculptures to explore similar themes. Eventually, the performance didn’t take place for health and safety reasons, but that is where the idea was born.

What message do you want to communicate with your work?

My aim is to challenge what contemporary dance is – to reach a wider audience that is not connected to the dance world, and reach the public through the use of props, theatrical and gestural materials that can draw in those who are not dance literate. That is why I refer to what I do as ‘dance theatre’. Also, I want to address social issues and human conditions – the exploration of human relationships.

What is the creative process that lies behind what we see on stage?

For How Much? is partly a structured choreography and partly an improvisation born of a collaboration with the performers. After seeing Ayres’ exhibition, I asked to each member of the company to choose a sculpture as an inspiration and create a solo – I then picked parts from each solo which became the signature or motives for each character performed – there is one storyline that connects all the different episodes. In all my work, I also build on my arts background: I work with pictures and images. My aim is to find ways to reproduce them with real bodies.

For How Much? from Mazzilli Dance Theatre

For How Much? from Mazzilli Dance Theatre

How do you use costumes, especially in a piece that is a denunciation of consumerism?

I often use clothes as props. None of the costumes used in For How Much? were bought: we all brought our own clothes from which we picked colour schemes and items that would fit each character. Costumes are important for me: it is not just about the looks but also about the texture, the fabric and the way each item moves. Clothes can also be used as props – just like any other everyday object: what matters is what they do for the space, the sounds they produce or how the light catches. In For How Much, I use penny coins, for the way they sound and reflect the light as much as for their symbolism – ‘the penny drops’!

You have been invited to perform For How Much at the International Dance Festival in Beijing in July: what are your expectations for this new experience?

It will be interesting to see how a Chinese audience reacts to this piece – to its content and my approach to dance. The performance will feature a reduced cast, but I think we will be able to keep the essence of the piece. The response in the UK has been very positive, people felt moved and enjoyed their connection to the work. After the performance, I want people to leave thinking about something, to take some of these powerful images away with them.

What is your next project?

I would like to continue to explore the theme of labour exploitation and the female condition in particular. I have something in mind, but we will have to see how it all develops!

Mazzilli Dance Theatre is organising a fundraising event towards the trip to the International Dance Festival in Beijing, China in partnership with La Strada Fashion Circus in June. Extracts from the piece will be shown together with work by visual artist Allen Barker.

Courtesy of: Mazzilli Dance Theatre | Photography By: Jonathon Lee Baker | Website: | Edited By: Elizabeth Deheza

Emma De Angelis About the author

A historian by training and editor by profession, reviews the glittering lights of the West End, unsuspected ballet classes in shabby Whitechapel and edgy shows in disused railway tunnels. With a PhD from LSE, she lives and breathes the London stage.