Spirits We Dance
Nominated for Best Experimental Short
Director: Natalija Gormalova
21' • Ghana • 2020
Two contemporary dancers take viewers on a poetic journey as they show us what life is like being a disabled dancer in a harsh, urban landscape. Confronting the stigma they face in Ghana, Afriyie and Alfred take us on an uplifting voyage into the spirit world and show how dance sets them free from their restrictions. Afriyie is a mother and a dancer. Raising her 7 year-old daughter Frimpomaa, she strives to portray a positive image of disability not just for her daughter but for society as well. Alfriyie shows us all that she can do and not what limits her. After receiving the polio vaccine when she was young, Afriyie had an adverse effect which resulted in paralysis in both of her legs. Rejecting the common perception of disabled people that she sees in Ghanaian society, Afriyie shows that she is just as confident, expressive and beautiful as anybody else. She reflects this strength in her daily life - in her relationship with her daughter and in her work as a dancer. Afriyie has been friends with Alfred for many years. Alfred contracted polio when he was a baby and so has had to adapt to life in Accra since he can remember. From shoe making to selling ice-cream, there isn’t much Alfred hasn’t tried in order make money for his family. Working hard, he found solace in the Ghana Society for the Physically Disabled. There, he learned to play basketball, football and dance. His life was to change forever when a dance company saw him breakdancing and offered to teach him contemporary dance. Facing many of the same obstacles as Afriyie, Alfred also has to wrestle with perceptions of masculinity and what it means to be a man in Ghanaian culture. 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. In their common love of dance Afriyie and Alfred share their happiness with viewers through a synthesis of spoken word and soundscapes that transport viewers into their world. It follows the reality of their daily routine in an urban landscape, where the concrete city is their canvas and they are the medium. 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.