As a photographer and member of the Ghanaian branch of Women Photograph, Natalija Gormalova understands when the power of a gaze, and how the wrong gaze can skewer and corrupt an image. Her photography is delicate but unflinching, her keen eye unrivalled. It seems a rare delight that she is bringing her photographic eye to a much larger and far more ambitious project, her new short film, ‘Spirits We Dance’. It is her first film project and she uses it to explore Ghana, through the eyes of the disabled and the spirituality that is often underrepresented in media.
Spirits We Dance is a poetic journey of two contemporary dancers as they show us what life is like being a disabled dancer in a harsh, urban landscape of Accra. In a tale of friendship between Afriyie and Alfred and a tale of love between a mother and daughter, Spirits We Dance takes viewers into an imaginative and surreal mindscape. A world sublime and yet childlike in its beauty, it is created by the characters to escape the pain of reality. Connecting with their spiritual side when they dance, they are free from the restrictions their bodies and society impose. Challenging the idea that spirits are evil and menacing, two dancers find freedom when they leave reality behind and connect with the spirits of dance.
On the project Natalija Gormalova collaborates with a number of prominent Ghanaian creators, but the project is most shaped by Ria Boss, a Ghanaian singer and poet who provides the sure footed voice-over for the project and scores it as well with original music from her oeuvre, Ria Boss’s otherworldiness helps offsets the vividness of the project’s carefully shot cinematography and lends an ephemeral quality to the vistas in which Gormalova shoots her star crossed leads, surrounded by an ensemble cast of uncoventional characters. Every scene feels carefully considered, every frame seems suffused with meaning and while we have only seen a trailer, it already feels like like a religious experience.
‘Spirits We Dance’ is going to be an experience for everyone who encounters, the quality of the experience hindered or enhanced only by how open the viewer is to not trying to interpret the material before them in the limited dialect of film criticism. ‘Spirits We Dance’ seems like the kind of project that needs only to be acknowledged and appreciated.
Watch the trailer here: