The Body Remembers is an intimate, passionate, and nuanced exploration of bodily trauma and the relationship we have with bodies. In this solo movement piece, we are privy to a demonstration of what it is to inhabit a body with trauma.
Over the course of 45 minutes, we watch Heather Agyepong move to a variety of soundscapes. Her movements are fluid, with a conviction in her actions that gives weight to the choreography. Agyepong dances in the space; her silhouette stands boldly behind her; at moments, there is a strict intention that shifts to dysphoria, despair and then focuses again on her body. Projection and silhouette are used to insightful effect. Focus is often drawn to the back wall, upon which are recordings of Agyepong in various positions but never showing her face. The audience’s attention is nudged away from Agyepong’s body, and towards the body she inhabits and bodies like hers.
Over the top of this, we hear the voices of women talking first about being denied help by doctors, a topic long deserving in its public recognition, especially the experiences of black women. From there, voice recordings shift towards the relationship we have with our bodies and the disconnection or dysphoria we often feel. Around the back of the stage are some more interpretable prompts, ‘The Body Keeps the Score’, a collection of painkillers and a bible.
There is not much else to the show, and that is not a criticism. Within the simplicity of the dance, the voice recordings and the projections are the space for introspective thought, and Gail Babb’s dramaturgy finds this excellently. This delving thought is guided by the choreography of Imogen Knight; there is instability to the performance, and Agyepong’s vulnerability gives weight to the movement.
A lot is left on stage, and while this is a risk, if the show were too prescriptive, it would have reduced the audience’s space for introspection. Agyepong does not give us much, and there are moments I won’t get, but as a white man, this is not about me and probably not trying to speak to me as much as it is to others.
I am still mulling over this show, and it will stay with me. It will question a lot about you and is certainly not to be missed, both in its meaning but also in its unique approach.
Review by Tom Carter
The body is an archive. It remembers everything – even the things that the head forgets.
Heather Agyepong’s powerful new solo performance The Body Remembers explores how trauma lives in the body, particularly for Black British women across different generations.
Through a unique and compelling relationship between the audience and artist, it creates a collective cathartic experience.
THE BODY REMEMBERS
Created and performed by Heather Agyepong
Dramaturg and Co-Creator Gail Babb
Movement Director and Co-Creator Imogen Knight
AV Designer Gillian Tan
Sound Designer Donato Wharton
Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist Dawn Estefan
Touring from 7 October 2021