Mele Broomes: Grin / Wrapped Up In This
- Lucy Ribchester
- 16 August 2021
Two thought-provoking and magnetic digital Fringe dance pieces celebrate black power and fierce femininity
Peach moons float across a pitch-black screen. Gradually the camera pulls out to reframe this as a sprawl of twinkling lights. Is it a cityscape? Our perspective is jolted again as the form of a person, huge against this skyline, takes shape, rising from it, dripping in shimmering threads.
These perspective shifts become a motif in choreographer Mele Broomes' collaborative piece, Grin, exploring love, friendship and support. We see African and hip-hop dance moves reclaimed and recontextualised, while sexualised poses we think we recognise are turned back onto the viewer with a hard, unflinching stare. It's a powerful, sensual piece, that pulls you along on its trajectory, through the rapt concentration and unity of its two dancers – Divine Tasinda and Kemono LRiot – bolstered by Zephyr Liddell's startling, striking costumes (those shimmering threads give way to burnished tracksuits and a UV leotard), Patricia Panther's score, and Michaella Fee's subtly-shifting lighting. From its elemental beginnings through to a final tender, spiritual fiesta, Grin is a reminder of why dance matters: it says things with bodies and music that words cannot grasp.
Broomes' solo piece – Wrapped Up In This – also sets power and perseverance in its sights, this time focussing on the journeys of black womxn (Broomes' preferred gender term). The opening has Broomes emerging in a rainbow-hued mist, her arms goddess-like, an echoing electro-score melting into uplifting choral voices. There is an inner poise to Broomes that is magnetic to watch. The second part – a monologue about work and privilege – feels shakier. While you grasp the evolution of the character's defiance, its language sometimes jars; it feels like the workings of the piece are on show.
More affecting are the verbatim recordings of black womxn who talk candidly about their struggles with racism and carving an independent path for themselves. Both pieces leave you with the feeling that seeing Mele Broomes' work live is something to look forward to greatly when that time comes.
Mele Broomes: Grin / Wrapped Up In This, Summerhall Online, until Sunday 29 August, £7 (£4).