Darcy Wallace’s Mothertongue

Words by Maxine Flasher-Duzgunes.

There is no rest under burden, there is no breath except inside the moment that never ends…

Framed by bricks in the looks of a run-down tube station, a dancer snaps and bends as if trying to reenact too many scenes at once. Her luscious brown wisps jolt and shake to her body’s staccato beats while voices narrate their experience of motherhood, and what became of dance in their lives following it. 

Darcy Wallace’s dance film, Mothertongue draws a dark circle around maternal wisdom, how it impacts artistic practices and challenges the emotions housed by the body. Living boldly in the underbelly of the world, three dancers reveal the visceral truths of childbearing as an artist – its beautiful harms and dissonant realities echoing throughout the very flesh that longs to keep moving. 

The camera eventually zooms in to obscure the brick wall with the white glow of vapor – or smoke. Rising from within, a second dancer seizes her steam-ridden hair with long strokes, caught in the fight between what creates and what destroys. Cloaked in her own mess, her vehement gestures seem to suggest a cleansing escape from this solitary trap. 

A third dancer is depicted in a separate corridor of the underground, convulsing at first in the dark, and then suddenly surrounded by short-lived flames, lighting her eyes in their feverish waves. She shakes on the ground to the sound of words that say movement saved them, specifically movement that could traverse the daily unpredictabilities. 

The three dancers then converge in one fluorescent lit room, long hair whipping beneath their hoodies in the first traces of synchronisation. They whip and slice the little air that remains in a heavy vortex and disfigures its true form.

In the end sequence, the dancers sit stoically with thin metallic coverings bracing their bodies, as if the armor they carry is sparse but mighty, to overcome the everyday labors that emerge. 

Mothertongue unearths what exists below, what bears weight, what shows itself incessantly but that no one dares to face. It highlights the “hood” after “mother,” the multi-frequency drone to the life not always asked for, nor supported. Even in joy, darkness falls, awaiting the nooks for motion and the crannies for light, to creep in.