Optimal Stopping is a dance performance with Mexican and Australian dancers that will be presented in Wollongong from today until Sunday. The show was born on Zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic and the Mexican dancers have never rehearsed with the Australian dancers in the same room. Their first performance today will be the first time they all dance in the same room. We spoke to Ilse Orozco, one of the Mexican dancers from La Infinita Compañia about the Optimal Stopping production.
The Optimal Stopping show will be performed at Wollongong Town Hall from today. What is the show about?
The show consists of different tableaux where the dancers have the freedom to improvise under different guises. The dramaturgy is composed in real time with decisions made by the dancers. At the beginning of the show, the audience decides who will perform certain roles.
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How did the three companies Merrigong Theatre Company, Proper Motion & La Infinita Compañia meet?
Lisa McDonell (Proper Motion) and Raúl Tamez (La Infinita Compañía) first met in Mexico during the FIDCMX (Festival Internacional de Danza de la Ciudad de México) in 2018. At first, they talked about doing a duo, but it wasn’t until 2019 that they decided to do a piece with several Mexican and Australian dancers. During the pandemic, they received funding from the Australian Government to start working via zoom. A few years later, the Optimal Stopping project received further funding to bring the Mexican dancers to Australia. It wasn’t until this point that Lisa generated the link with Merrigong Theatre Company, who decided to be the official host of the international project.
How did you prepare the show via Zoom?
During the pandemic, Zoom was one of the only ways we could connect with each other and create. It was a privilege for artists from two distant countries to come together to work on an art project. For a few months, we improvised, performed and worked on the structure of the piece with a common score.
Is it true that you have never rehearsed in the same room only on Zoom?
That’s absolutely true. We only rehearsed in groups, the Mexicans and the Australians, separately. It was the choreographer’s decision that the first meeting between all of the artists would be on the day of the performance.
Have you ever danced in a show where you haven’t done rehearsals in person together before? Does that give you a bit of freedom?
I have danced in two shows without rehearsals, it gives a lot of freedom but at the same time uncertainty, because you don’t know the outcome and sometimes situations fail. It’s a constant reminder to be present but also to let go and let everything flow.
How long have you been dancing?
I have been dancing since I was 12 years old.
When and why did you decide to become a dancer?
When I finished high school, the first generation of a private contemporary dance school opened in my town, my dance teachers encouraged me to join. I hadn’t decided that I wanted to study and I accepted. During the first year, I realised that this was what I wanted to do.
You have studied dance in Mexico, the Netherlands and Israel. Tell us about your studies abroad?
Studying abroad has broadened my artistic vision. Learning about other ways of working, other techniques, other cultures and other types of bodies in movement inspired me. I also met many people with whom I still maintain contact and generate projects.
You have also danced in France. Tell us about the recognition, awards, support and medals you received in France.
When I was studying in the Netherlands, I saw a dance competition announced in Biarritz. I applied and they accepted me. I rehearsed two solos (contemporary and modern dance) on my own with a Mexican choreographer and went to France. I won two silver medals in both categories in the pre-professional category in 2011 at the International Dance Competition in Biarritz.
Have you ever been to Australia?
Never, it’s my first time, I’m super happy to be here and from the little I’ve known and travelled, I can say it’s a wonderful country and I’d love to come back.
Why would you recommend that people come and see Optimal Stopping?
I would highly recommend going to see this show because it’s nothing like what you find in Australia: bi-national projects, based on improvisation and with talented dancers from different backgrounds and ages. Also, the audience plays a very important role in the work.
We thank Ilse Orozco for this interview.
KEY INFO FOR OPTIMAL STOPPING
WHAT: Optimal Stopping, a dance performance between three companies: Merrigong Theatre Company, Proper Motion & La Infinita Compañia
WHERE: Wollongong Town Hall | Main Auditorium
- Thu 30 March, 7.30pm with Q&A after the performance
- Friday 31 March, 7.30pm with Q&A after the performance
- Saturday 1 April, 7.30pm with Q&A after the performance
HOW: Book your tickets through this link https://merrigong.com.au/shows/optimal-stopping/
HOW MUCH: Pay what you feel. You still need to reserve seats before attending the show.