GRIN/Hevi Metle

Tramway, Glasgow

Mary Brennan


COMPLEX issues of perception - how others see us, how that affects our relationship with them and with ourselves - were woven into two of the works performed at the weekend during DIG (Dance International Glasgow).

When Mele Broomes originally presented GRIN, it was a solo that explored how her own roots and identity - informed by African and Caribbean cultures - were seen and ‘interpreted’ by other eyes. There was a real sense of pursuing truths historic and ever-present about race, femaleness and her own creative identity. Since then, Broomes has expanded her thinking on this earlier choreography, stepped off-stage and now directs two dancers - Levent Nyembo and Divine Amy Tasinda - in a performance where the concept of masks and masquerade is now central to those truths. For sure, in the first section, when both dancers are encased in all-enveloping shaggy-tinsel cocoons, you are distanced from the immediacy of who they are by the Mardi Gras anonymity of the costumes. When these are sloughed aside, their presence - albeit still shrouded by the shadows of a dim-lit stage - reaches out with episodes of movement that recall that original solo. Tasinda’s hip-grinding on the floor catches at the sexualised image of black women long held by white colonials, Nyembo’s body language - laced with confrontational gestures - suggests the need to keep challenging prejudice. The pulverising soundscore, the lighting - glooms sparked with glints from tinsel on the floor - don’t. however, encourage us to engage with the closeness that welcomed the rhythmic curtain-raiser from musicians Gillian Katungi and Paul Shofolahan.

Ultimate Dancer’s durational installation, Hevi Metle, had a voiced description of events delivered while we watched Louise Ahl, Angela Goh and Michelle Hannah entering into rituals of transformation that incorporated metal objects, shamanistic chantings and the elemental alchemy that attaches to fire. Ahl, as ever, negotiates as tightrope between the potentially ridiculous and the serious but here, her genuine interest in the how and what of our seeing, understanding and believing was worth time spent in DIG-ing