My essentials: Diane Portelli’s cultural picks

No 32 | Diane Portelli, 40, Director and choreographer

Diane Portelli
Diane Portelli

1. Book

I read a book called ‘Woke: A Guide to Social Justice’ by Titania McGrath. It is a satirical take on a current trend where anyone feels they can become an activist to the extent of being illiberal liberals. I have an issue with anything that is taken to an extreme. I feel people are scared of addressing or discussing issues openly out of fear of getting cancelled, and this is just stifling much needed discourse and conversation in the world. People are permanently offended, and this type of satire created a much-needed disruption that is just as funny as it is true.

2. Film

‘The Joker’. I watch TV to escape reality which is probably why I love fantasy and superheroes. Having said that I prefer a darker, more layered approach to the genre and it’s exactly what ‘The Joker’ does. There is a complexity in character which is portrayed which is very alluring, and visually striking. Joaquin Phoenix is so choreographic and intricate in the way he moves and expresses himself that it makes me sympathise with one of the most horrific villains in DC comics. This is somewhat ironic considering I have a phobia of clowns.

3. Internet 

To be honest images are what catch my eyes the most online. There was a photographer who published a series of photos of people fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, and each image spoke a thousand words. I felt so many emotions seeing children being separated from their parents, men leaving to fight to protect their country. It triggered as much anger as it did sorrow. I felt overwhelmed, helpless and most of all privileged. It seems so unfair that different people are dealt such a different hand in life and sometimes there is nothing we can do to prevent it.

4. Music

This is honestly the most difficult one to choose as I like so many bands and types of music. There is one song I always put on when I am going through a hard time and that’s Poison by Alice Cooper. Whenever I am down, I hate listening to mellow music, so I blast this song in the car and sing at the top of my lungs. His voice sounds aggressive and so do I when singing it and this is somehow therapeutic for me. I’ve even listened to it on a loop at times just to release tension and stress.

5. Place 

My happiest memories, growing up, are on the mountains. It is the perfect place as it’s a mix of tranquillity and adrenaline. There is a particular place called Ortisei in Italy, where the skiing is amazing but it’s also in a quaint mountain village with a 9km sledging track. I am not the type to sit on a beach and relax, I get restless and need to be doing something all the time. Skiing is as calming as it is engaging. I am racing against myself and the elements in a beautiful setting. It is very relaxing for me as my body is active and my mind is free, taking in the picturesque landscape.