Dickson Mbi – Enowate is a powerful, mesmerising, haunting, disturbing piece of work

Dickson Mbi - Enowate

So many unspoken words hung in the air last night. The night that we as a Nation were leaving Europe. A stepping into the unknown for us all whether for or against that momentous divisive decision three years ago. 

And so much was unspoken in the performance of Dickson’s Enowate. All the old clichés do not seem out of place for this was a powerful, mesmerising, haunting, disturbing piece of work. One dancer strikingly lit holds us in an intensity of looking for thirty-five minutes. Creating strong shapes with his back, shoulders, head, hands and arms Dickson sculpts his body through dance. The human body is lost and we watch an animal; all sinew, muscle, flesh and bone. A creature that morphs from feline, to crab, to monkey, to spider, to vulture; we don’t quite know which! We cannot and dare not take our eyes off him; grace, beauty, menace are all rolled into one.

Enowate is translated as meaning ‘Truth Stands’ and indeed this was a performance of integrity and honesty. The soundtrack, the lighting and the choreography are in perfect synchronicity. Nothing jars or distracts us from the story. Dickson Mbi took a trip to his ancestral village in Cameroon and following this visit he began to question his identity particularly in the light of his upbringing in London and his animistic practice. 

Although this is Dickson’s own personal struggle with ‘Who I am? What am I? Why am I here?’ he speaks in a visual language that we can all understand. The language of his body gives him a voice which we can hear and to which we can respond. He catches us up in the truth of our own struggles and at the end, alongside Dickson, we can see a glimmer of light in the darkness and the freedom that lies beyond. In the final moments, he unbends and stands centre stage and meets our gaze.

Reviewed at Dance East, Ipswich on January 31st 2020