A few stills from our video project at Portumna Workhouse in Ireland. Manager Donal Burke and the staff at the Irish Workhouse Centre were extremely gracious and allowed us access to all exterior and interior spaces. They also steeped us in the history of the place with detailed and harrowing stories of those whose lives were forever changed there. Our project honors and remembers the trauma suffered here as a way to acknowledge the many unresolved injustices against people across the globe in the past and present. We were also very fortunate to encounter the work of artist,Kieran Tuohy. His sculptures formed from ancient wood unearthed from the bogs of Ireland express the turmoil, suffering and devastation of the Irish famine.
Video now in post production. Dancer/collaborators: Kelli Chapman, Abra Cohen, Halley Gerstel, Megan Minturn and Cecly Placenti.
2022 Catherine Gallant/DANCE summer tour to Ireland and Scotland: Workhouse project in Portumna, Ireland August 1-4 and Edinburgh Fringe Festival August 7 and 8.
Thank you to everyone who attended our performances on December 18 and 19, 2021 at St. Michael's Church. Although the audience was small due to the Omicron surge that week, we were happy to have finally presented our work indoors at this unique site. A special thank you to Paige Seber for working magic with her portable lighting equipment and creating a world of color and light for us.
Escape from the House of Mercy is a work which is influenced by historical information about Inwood Hill Park NYC where the House of Mercy, a workhouse for women and girls, once stood. This project was originally presented with support from the Partnerships for Parks (Inwood Parks Grant), made possible by Columbia University. Partnerships for Parks is a joint program of City Parks Foundation and NYC Parks. During 2020-2021 we turned our project into an 11-minute dance film, presented a masked indoor performance for 15 audience members, performed a short live-stream Zoom performance through Westfest (at the 100 year old Westbeth Gate) and presented a showing of the work outdoors near the Museum of the City of New York as part of Open Culture NYC.
Escape from the House of Mercy is a 21st-century women's view of our social support systems measuring both the ground gained and the distance yet to be traveled. Leading this embodiment of buried stories are the eight dancers of Catherine Gallant/DANCE. Costumes are by Ivana Drazic.
The House of Mercy was one of a number of institutions at Inwood Hill Park, NYC. These included the Magdalen Asylum for unwed mothers (part of the Magdeline Laundry system run by the Catholic Church in both Ireland and the US) and the House of Rest for tuberculosis patients. The House of Mercy was a home for “abandoned and troubled women”, in fact, it was closer to a workhouse or prison to which most inhabitants were brought against their wills. Here a young woman could be locked up for years for an offense such as dancing in public or walking alone at night. Inhabitants were routinely punished with starvation diets, head shaving, and restraints. In 1895 three girls managed to escape the institution on whose walls were inscribed “I wish I was dead” and “God help me get out”. This inhumane and demoralizing treatment, in the guise of rehabilitation, was part of an era when the rights of the poor, especially women, were completely denied. Choreographer, Catherine Gallant invites the audience to wonder why this invisible place from the past is important now and how history connects us to the present discussion regarding the rights and privileges of women and disenfranchised people in the world.
Our goal is to reflect on the injustices of the past but also to focus on hopeful possibilities for community engagement and support which celebrate the drive for social freedoms and equity. Overall, we seek to ignite a curiosity which engages the public through dance experience, discussion and embodied learning, expanding the definition of dance and challenging expectations about who dances and why. Our long-term goal is to continue to bring our performance projects out of the theater and into public space, nationally and internationally. We want to develop the idea of access and equity as we continue to share the history and future of dance as human expression and connection. Catherine Gallant/Dance first presented Escape from the House of Mercy on Thursday, June 27 and Friday, June 28, 2019in Inwood Hill Park in Upper Manhattan. The 30 minute outdoor performance featured seven dancers and a live band playing New Orleans funeral music directed by Kevin Blancq. In addition, a walking tour was led by local Inwood, NYC historian, Cole Thompson. The tour focused on the history of the park as participants traveled up the path towards the original location of the House of Mercy, which was demolished in 1933. photo: Melanie Futorian
Catherine Gallant, (choreographer) has been creating work in NYC over the past 30 years. Catherine Gallant/DANCE brings dance to new audiences through direct interaction with the public. Ms. Gallant's work has been performed in Times Square, a pedestrian block of E. 91st Street in Manhattan, Green-Wood Cemetery, and Inwood Hill Park. She has also presented work at the 92Y Harkness Dance Center, City Center Studios, WestFest, Danspace St. Mark’s (Dance Access), American Dance Guild and Jacob's Pillow's Inside/Out Series. Ms. Gallant’s work has been supported by Jody and John Arnhold, LMCC, Chashama, The Harkness Foundation for Dance, Foundation for Contemporary Arts and Partnerships for Parks/City Parks Foundation. Catherine is also the director of Dances by Isadora which, since 1989, performs, teaches and collaborates with dancers throughout the world. Catherine is the US performer of Jerome Bel’s recent work, Isadora Duncan. She began her study of the technique of Isadora Duncan in 1982 with Julia Levien and is a founding member of the Duncan Archive duncanarchive.org. Catherine has been the full-time NYCDOE dance educator at PS 89 in Manhattan since 1998. She and her students were featured in the Emmy-nominated PBS documentary, PS DANCE! Catherine is on the faculty of the Dance Education Laboratory (DEL). Ms. Gallant is a graduate of the Boston Conservatory and holds an MFA in Dance from Temple University.www.dancesbyisadora.comwww.catherinegallantdance.com
Abra Cohen is a New York City based dancer. She has trained at The Ailey School, Boston Ballet School, and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and holds a BA in Art History/BFA in Dance from the University of Michigan. At U of M, she performed in the re-staging of Paul Taylor’s “Le Sacre du Printemps” under the direction of Ruth Andrien, and in works by Amy Chavasse, Jessica Fogel, and Carolyn Dorfman. Abra has danced with the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, Lori Belilove and the Isadora Duncan Dance Company, and Moving Visions Dance, directed by Loretta Thomas. She joined Catherine Gallant/DANCE and Dances by Isadora in 2017. Abra also works as an Archivist in the Archives of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
Charlotte Hendrickson is a Brooklyn based dancer, choreographer, and healer. She received her B.A. in dance from Bard College. Charlotte has been featured in works by Aileen Passloff, Toby Armour, Sondra Loring, Noemie LaFrance, Susan Osberg, Emma Grace Skove-Epes, and Zahava Griss. Charlotte began dancing with Catherine Gallant/DANCE and Dances by Isadora in 2015. You can contact her at Charlotte.Hendrickson@gmail.com
Jessie King is a native New Yorker and has trained at The Ailey School, Dance Theater of Harlem and The School of American Ballet. She graduated from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School as a dance major and she continued to pursue modern dance making at Bennington College. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to perform with Catherine Gallant/DANCE and Dances by Isadora this year and to have been able to hone her Duncan training with Loretta Thomas and Moving Visions Dance.
Halley Gerstel is continuing to spread her passion for dance, art and inspiring youth in her fifth year as a full-time dance educator for the NYC Department of Education. She is an Arnhold Scholar and graduate from Hunter College Graduate Education Program with a MA in Dance Education and holds a BFA in Dance and Education from Long Island University in Brooklyn. Formerly a member of Jody Sperling/Time Lapse Dance, she has been honored to be dancing with Catherine Gallant and the EHOM ladies since 2019. Halley has previously danced for Doug Elkins and Dancers, Larry Keigwin and Company as well as performed works by Pedro Ruiz and Nathan Trice. She is a proud native of Brooklyn, NY.
Megan J. Minturn has studied dance in Omaha, New York, Senegal, and Cuba. Her company MJM Dance has performed at Dance New Amsterdam and Ailey Citigroup Theatre among others. She dances with Joya Powell's Movement of the People Dance Company. Megan is a full-time dance educator at The Brooklyn International High School and holds an MA in Dance Education from NYU. Megan began working with Catherine Gallant/DANCE in 2012.
Cecly Placenti is a dancer, choreographer, writer, and producer. She received her MA in Dance Education from NYU and her BFA in Dance from Montclair State University. She is Artistic Director of Six Degrees Dance and has performed with Chris Ferris and Dancers and with Catherine Gallant/Dance since 2012. Her dance criticisms have been published in Critical Dance and The Dance Enthusiast where she is a senior contributor. Cecly is the Dance Teacher at The School at Columbia University.
Kelli Chapman, originally from Detroit, is a New York based dancer and dance educator teaching at P231K, a District 75 elementary school. She holds a BA from Albion College in Psychology, Political Science, and Dance and a MA from New York University in Dance Education. Kelli dances with MJM Dance and is excited to be dancing in the EHOM project with Catherine Gallant/DANCE.
Erica Lessner is a Brooklyn based dancer, educator, and choreographer. She holds an MFA in Choreography and Performance from Florida State University and a BFA from the University of South Florida. In Tampa, Erica danced for Moving Current Dance Collective, All Out Repertory Theatre, and co-founded Shoes at the Door Dance, a 501c3 organization dedicated to bringing dance to the forefront. Since relocating to New York, her choreography has been presented at the DUMBO Dance Festival, Dance Entropy/GreenSpace, Triskelion Arts, and 92 Street Y. Currently, Erica dances for Catherine Gallant/DANCE, Dances by Isadora and MJM Dance. She is also a public school dance educator in Brooklyn.
Paige Seber has worked as a freelance lighting designer based out of New York City since 2015. Specializing in live events, she has designed plays, musicals, music concerts, operas and dance concerts. With a strong understanding of the fundamentals of light, she has adapted her skills to many different events and venues. Seberlighting.com Ivana Drazic (costume design and construction) is a freelance designer from Belgrade, Serbia. She has been living in NYC since 1998 and has designed costumes for Dances by Isadora, Catherine Gallant/DANCE, and Sokolow Theater Dance Ensemble.