Lightning Dance, 2018

Black-and-white video
6:03 min

Filmed in October 2017 during the floods in Spanish Town, Jamaica, Lightning Dance investigates the influence of the indeterminate electric weather on bodily imagination. The black-and-white video features several young Jamaicans who, in company of the artist, perform solo and group dance routines next to a roadside shack, while heavy rain falls and a billowing and turbulent thunderstorm roars, soaking their clothes. Their movements refer to popular Jamaican Dancehall, a highly sexualized dance style, which Cecilia Bengolea sees as infused with magical healing powers. “Without beginning or end its choreography and steps form a succession of eternities granting it’s place within the calendar of spiritual time,” she says. The setting in Lightning Danceis unapologetically rough, but transforms into a breathtaking scenery the moment lightning strikes. The illuminating effect—reinforced by the black-and-white aesthetics—highlights the energetic and muscular gestures of the performers. The dramaturgy of this spectacle unfolds naturally as the dancers take center stage, followed by the captivated gaze of the local audience, the camera, and the viewer. The sounds of thunderstorm and rain become the beats to which the choreography is synched; the only trace left of Dancehall music is the low-frequency base in the background, amplified by the intensity of the choreography. The viewer is magnetically drawn into this ecstatic spectacle of spiritual awakening; tropical rain and sweat dissolve the boundaries between outdoors and indoors, merging nature and human into one unit. The self is recomposed within this state of greater liquidity, and channels new ways of feeling alive.  The influence of the indeterminate electric weather on bodily imagination.