‘Mirrors’ | Contemporary Dance, Video Art, Music recount “Italia, Culture, Africa”

In October 2018, on the occasion of the ‘Italy-Africa’ Conference in Rome and the private visit of 250 guests to the African Metropolis exhibition at MAXXI museum, we presented a teaser of Mirrors. Six months later, it became a larger and more complex project, a multidisciplinary artistic performance in which dance, music and video installations weave a dialogue which connects Italy and Africa, and Africa. The show circulated in 3 African cities: Addis Ababa (28th May) at the Italian Cultural Institute; Johannesburg (2nd June) at the UJ Arts & Culture Theatre; Dakar (8th June) at the National Theatre Daniel Sorano.

Mirrors is punctuated by four narrative chapters: Birth, Discovery, Origin, Contamination. Each of these moments offers heterogeneous landscapes, both visually and musically, upon which different identities inhabit the original disorientation and discover inner aspirations and a sense of belonging that gradually develops thanks to the unique contributions of the young performers.

The young performers: Afro-Italian ballet dancer of Brazilian origin, Roberto Lazzari, Italian-Nigerian dancer and African-Caribbean dance specialist Ofelya Omoyele Balogun, Italian-Tunisian dancer and electro-dance, hip-hop and bone-breaking specialist Andrea Bouothmane, and the Italian choreographer and performer Irene Russolillo embody the spirit of Mirrors, which is amplified by the presence of 10 additional performers on stage at each site.

Echoes and references to Italian and African music traditions feature in the original soundtrack created by the London-based Italian-Ivorian producer EHUA. From the Sicilian mouth harp and ancestral songs of Salento folklore in which guttural sounds and vocal noises recall percussive elements, to the grafting of talking drums and djembes and the reinterpretation of electronic genres such as South African gqom, these sonic elements evoke, exalt and crystallise fragments of traditions, cultures and ideas that are part of Italy and Africa.

“Looking in a mirror (an object or a person) means recognizing yourself in an image that goes beyond your body, but that is your body at the same time. It’s an image that speaks and listens, that seems to move away to then come back, that seeks and finds its own space in a continuous dialogue that oscillates between chaos and stillness in search of balance,” says Johanne Affricot, the artistic director of Mirrors.

The video installation by the Italian artist and theater director Luca Brinchi, sees the human at its center, reverberating in different forms in order to amplify and support the aesthetics of the dramaturgy and the choreography.

Developed by roman lighting designer Daniele Davino, the light design includes technical experimentation, rarefied atmospheres, geometry and spatial dynamics mediated by luminous elements to produce a lively and sometimes futuristic environment that enhances the storytelling and the intensity of the performance.

The show, held in Italian, is subtitled in 5 languages: Amharic, Wolof, English, French.

Partnership with the local dance companies

GRIOT and the Italian Cultural Institutes of Addis Ababa, Pretoria and Dakar collaborated with resident dance companies such as the Destino Dance Company (Addis Ababa), UJ Arts and Culture and Moving Into Dance Mopathong company (Johannesburg) and ‘La Linguère’ at the Daniel Sorano National Theatre (Dakar).

All the dancers and students participated to a workshop led by choreographer Irene Russolillo.

The tour culminated in a documentary directed by Jeffrey Alex Attoh.

Mirrors is developed and produced by GRIOT and the cultural association LIT in partnership with and with the support of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the International Cooperation and the Italian Cultural Institutes of Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Pretoria (South Africa) and Dakar (Senegal) for the 2019 “Italia, Culture, Africa” (Italy, Cultures, Africa) integrated promotion programme promoted by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


Concept + Artistic Direction | Johanne Affricot
Choreography | Irene Russolillo
Performance | Irene Russolillo, Roberto Lazzari, Ofelia Omoyele Balogun, Andrea
Video art | Luca Brinchi
Music | EHUA
Light Design | Daniele Davino
Documentary and Teaser docs | Jeffrey Alex Attoh
Treasurer | Thomas Layne