I Can Only Dance to One Song

Arash Fayez

I Can Only Dance to One Song explores the role of music in forming a sense of belonging to a location. Set in the Raval neighbourhood of Barcelona, video portrays accounts of displacement rooted in the experience of migrants through sound and movement. It looks at the crucial role that these forms of cultural production have for migrants to keep their roots and origins alive while living in a new and often unfamiliar context. This video captures a number of characters from the migrant community of Barcelona, who listen and dance to the music of their choice in various public and private spaces. By incorporating body movements as an expressive act of transformability, this video aims to illustrate the emotional landscape of displacement using corporal acts.

The project focuses on the role of cultural productions in dealing with new life in place of settlement and in articulation of new identities. Music and dance are especially significant in this regard because they are very popular, can be easily created, consumed and widely spread. More importantly, they have the power to evoke memories as they capture emotions that are profoundly bound with identity. They can thus be used to recreate one’s own culture and to remember the place from where one comes from. Yet sonic and movement patterns are not only ready means for the identification of different ethnic or social groups; they have relational connotations and can be used to assert and negotiate identity in a powerful manner. The title of this video is inspired by a Persian proverb [ ‫رقصیدن‬ ‫سازی‬ ‫هر‬ ‫به‬ ] which can be translated to “dancing with whatever instrument.” This proverb is used in contexts in which there is a need to adapt to a new situation. By slightly modifying this expression to ‘I Can Only Dance to One Song’, the project points to the importance of keeping the connections with one’s own roots. It also highlights the power of cultural exchange instead of complete assimilation as a strategy to remain connected to one’s origins while living in a new environment.

I Can Only Dance to One Song was premiered at Àngels gallery (Barcelona) in November 2021, and later presented in conjunction with a DJ set by Ikram Bouloum at Cordova (Barcelona), and in February 2022 at Cineteca Matadero (Madrid).


Technical datasheet

  • Title: I Can Only Dance to One Song
  • Direction: Arash Fayez
  • Production: with the support of Fundació MACBA (BKFMACBA); LOOP Barcelona; Barcelona City Council (Premis Barcelona 2020). 2021.
  • Duration: 00:10:56
  • Original format: 4K
  • Formats: H264
  • TV systems: PAL