Her brown skin glistens as the light reflects surrounding her body in a bright aureole. She stands in all white Jordan’s and a flowing net skirt. A transparent panel in the skirt reveals the strength of her womanhood. Shifting from staccato to a lyrical flow that increases and slows in pace, she holds her position. She holds and refuses us her eyes, refuses us her acknowledgement. She continues with her ritual, if you want this knowledge, you are going to have to enter.
Enter in to this space.
For me it is a space of Afrofuturisim, rooted in the past, dealing with now, and living in the beyond. Shifting between place and time, Seutin moves as an ethereal being across the stage, her ancestral data pouring out of her dance into this rite of transformation, this act of healing, this ceremony of passage, this call.
Alesandra Seutin’s latest solo work Across the Souvenir is very different to what I have seen of the choreographer in the past. The piece seems to hang somewhere between the theatrical and abstract, ritual and performance, resistance and acceptance. Seutin takes her time, giving nothing away. With a heavy use of popping, she moves across the stage as a spiritual being not from our time. The piece is intense, and it is the intensity that draws you in as you seek to gain understanding of the intricacies that are being presented. The piece functions on multiple layers. Seutin’s voice, the accompaniment (Kweku Aacht), the use of props and symbolism create an immersion into another realm. Visual stimulation from the work of Michèle Magema repeatedly occurs and haunts the space as a constant reminder of the relentless plight of African and African diasporic people presented through a woman picking up balls of cotton.
What Seutin is creating here should not be overlooked; this is a piece of radical creativity. Seutin presents herself within the context of European Contemporary dance, as brown-skinned woman, a higher being with a politicised message that she communicates implicitly. A message that is not for everyone, but is available to everyone. A message tied up in the act of Seutin throwing balls of cotton onto the ground. The piece climaxes with Seutin bouncing a white basketball, with every bounce a sense of foreboding occurs. The sense that something is coming, time is running out and it has now come. Seutin has come to give a message, as those before her, to those that have understanding.
And if you don’t understand, then it is not for you
“But Stay Woke”
– Childish Gambino
Across the Souvenir was performed as part of Out of the System a Programme curated by Freddie Opoku-Addaie as part of Dance Umbrella 2017. I was one of the Systems-Lab Artists for this programme and attended this piece complimentary with the support of Freddie and Dance of the African Diaspora at One Dance UK
Featured photo from Dance Umbrella