Award-winning choreographer Farah Saleh explores memory and movement with her Palestinian narrative in What My Body Can/t Remember, as part of Dance International Glasgow 2019.

What My Body Can/t Remember is the latest addition in Palestinian dancer and choreographer Farah Saleh’s Palestinian Archive of Gestures – an ongoing project for Saleh. What My Body Can/t Remember will tour later in the year, but here at DIG 2019 today was a premiere performance, one which opened the door to delve into our very own archives of movements that sit within our past.

Farah Saleh is a Palestinian dancer and choreographer active in Palestine, Europe and the US. She studied linguistic and cultural mediation in Italy whilst also continuing her studies in contemporary dance. Since 2010 she has participated in local and international projects with Sareyyet Ramallah Dance Company (Palestine), the Royal Flemish Theatre and Les Ballets C de la B (Belgium), Mancopy Dance Company (Denmark/Lebanon), Siljehom/Christophersen (Norway) and Candoco Dance Company (UK).

In this The Fruitmarket Gallery and Tramway co-commission, Saleh attempts to investigate what her body can and can’t remember of her life in Ramallah in 2002 when, living under curfew, Saleh returned to dance after years of interruption. She looks at archiving this physical memory through visual documentation, exploring movement through years of oppression.

Working with filmmaker Owa Barua, Saleh mulitmedia performance combines dance, film and text to recall the daily gestures of her life exploring her memory throughout a time when her freedom was constained. Her aim is to engage with the audience so that they too can discover the process of archving through movement. And she does this effectively.

Often haunting, her movements can be repetitive and jarring, and the impact is wonderful. She not only expresses her own historical gestures but has her audience doing the same, myself recalling moments on my grandmother’s swing, subtle swinging motions, chasing notions of freedom.

In the studio space of the Tramway, she draws her videographer over as she swings a mic, or wraps her hair in a piece of cloth, or discontentingly flapping her hands in her face, documenting this archive of movements before opening the door for us to do the same. Highlighting some of the aspects of life in Palestine, Farah’s personal project feels intimate, somewhat voyeuristic, and yet profound, as we engage with her gestures and archive.

Photo courtesy of Chris Scott

For more on Dance International Glasgow 2019 click here.