#metoo turned inside out: a performance of womb-centric healing

Sad, tired lady of Caribbean background rests or cuddles a large empty woven basked. Her eyes are closed, her hair is loose and she is wearking gold hoop earrings with a complex design.

FFion Campbell-Davies in Womb Pays Way, (c) Carole Edrich 2018

Right at the very top floor of The Place in London’s Euston is a studio with humming air conditioning and huge picture windows that take up more than a whole wall. I am here to see a rehearsal of Womb Pays Way, Ffion Campbell-Davies’ work in progress. Ffion places me in the room so that when she starts the performance the windows and long strip-lighting exaggerate the frailty, solemnity and elegance of her lithe expressive form.

Nuanced words song and movement complement the symbolism of her simple props.  On one level she is a female Everyman. On another she is every black woman. On yet another an archetypical friend of Orishas, one loved by an entire country. She is also just a girl, but a grown Caribbean girl who is sharing the development of her own sense of worth as it happens. Ffion carries me on seamless waves of discovery. Her layers of meanings are staggering, but then so are her dance and her voice.

While the female protagonist is clearly a multi-layered and superbly researched construct, it doesn’t feel like that while she’s performing. It is intensely personal. So personal that her honey-sweet voice gives me goose-bumps and so personal that there are times when the things her body expresses mean I don’t want to meet her eyes. Ffion’s multi-disciplinary performance, which is intensely engaging, occasionally harrowing and ultimately joyful, brings me into her world as a welcome fellow traveller. It feels like a real person’s world view and an authentic representation of the process by which the protagonist has come to accept who she is.

There’s so much more. The choreographic evolution matches the pendulum style revelations as she follows the route to self-empowerment. The music adds intellectual and aesthetic levels. Facial expressions, the use of words such as ‘crossroads’ which have special resonance and meaning, the choice of guiding Orisha and use of rhythm all combine, dragging me through an experience that’s both visceral and intellectual. This combination is all-too rare at any time, and exceptional from someone at such an early point of their career.

 

I leave with so much to think about, and the same feeling I get when I’ve woken up from a particularly satisfying dream. If the work in progress has this impact, think how much better it will be on the night. Go, and tell me how you found it.

See Womb Paves Way with two other short performances on Saturday 20th October at The Place. Tickets at https://www.theplace.org.uk/buy-tickets/232770

Wouldn’t it be great to get an issue of Dance GRiST curated by Ffion! Help me make it possible at www.dancegr.ist