Sonic Séance (4 stars)

Sonic Séance

Mele Broomes and Patricia Panther / credit: Marios Ento-Engkolo

V/DA show is an inventive and beautiful piece of dance theatre

Inspired by the writing of Audre Lorde and Maya Angelou, Sonic Séance is a heady multimedia cocktail of dance, song, poetry and beats which feels absolutely vital, and utterly unique. The séance alluded to in the title is the séances held by 19th century black women, spiritualists who became a powerful presence in a society which sought to silence and marginalise them.

Performed by director Mele Broomes; Patricia Panther, Ashanti Harris and DJ Letitia Pleiades alongside BSL interpreter Bea Webster, the women, clad in silver, gold and bronze, are like living tableaux, and their dance phrases are both atavistic and of the moment, challenging reductive exoticism and the right to own spaces with power and poise.

Fusing text with live beats, which vacillate between psychedelic dub, and fragmentary drum and bass, the women, sometimes popping and locking, sometimes moving in one rippling unit as a chain, provide an incantation and manifesto. Live vocals are gorgeous, and Harris' spoken text defies the silenced, the enslaved and the sidelined BAME women in history, filming herself and creating an infinite mirror image to represent her ancestors.

Mesmerising, moving and beautiful, V/DA are uncompromising. They stand alongside contemporary artists like Ibeyi and Charlotte Adigery who make future focused art which acknowledges Afro-Caribbean influences, and pushes technological boundaries.

Part of Take Me Somewhere, Tramway, run ended.

Take Me Somewhere

The spirit of The Arches lives on in this festival of contemporary international performance.

Sonic Séance

Performance of sound, music and dance about women's empowerment and confronting hegemonic colonialist narratives.