Catherine Gallant/DANCE Escape from the House of Mercy
June 12, 2021 104th Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues
With dancers Abra Cohen, Kelli Chapman, Halley Gerstel, Jessie King, Cecly Placenti, Megan Minturn, Erica Lessner Costumes by Ivana Drazic Production assistance by Open Culture Works
NOTE: Audience members have the option to watch from any angle while moving around the dance. There will be a few seats available for those who cannot stand for the duration of the event. Running time is approximately 30 minutes.
The dance/theater work is inspired by The House of Mercy, and embodies the buried voices in the ongoing struggle for women's equity. Once located at Inwood Hill Park in Upper Manhattan, The House of Mercy was described as "a home for abandoned and troubled women." It was, in fact, closer to a prison or workhouse to which most women and girls 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. Gallant seeks to mine the feelings of vulnerability and powerlessness as they relate to the present in the drive for social freedoms and equity.
Music and audio referenced for this production: Trio: II. March (John Cage), Synopsis #5 He Figures Out What Clouds Mean (Lisa Bielawa), Cape Clear-Irish Airs (Ilse de Ziah), Bodhran Solo (Rolf Wagels), Reis Glorios-Erutan-The Court of Leaves, Just a Closer Walk with Thee-Treme Brass Band, Concerto Fantasy for 2 Timpanists and Orchestra- excerpt (Philip Glass), Footprints- (excerpt)- Frank Epstein, The Proust Screenplay-Harold Pinter (excerpts), Did you tell? For voice and electronics, Interview (Alina Jacobs) Visit www.catherinegallantdance.com For more information. Contact: email@example.com Special thanks to Roderick Murray, Alina Jacobs, Nadia Lesy, Cole Thompson
Photo by Melanie Futorian
Supporters: The Harkness Foundation for Dance, Jody and John Arnhold, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and Partnership for Parks/City Parks Foundation. Catherine Gallant/DANCE is supported in part with funds from Creative Engagement, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Thank you to 2019-20 donors: Marsi Burns, Delores Candelmo, Marilyn Cocharan, Alan and Roberta Cohen, Dr. and Mrs. Fabius Fox, Lara Gerstein, Patricia Hruby, Mary Kane, Victor and Jean Leung, Jeanne and Ken Pasch, Mary Salter, Joan Sax, Randall Switz, Amanda and David Weinraub, Paul Balsamo
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 Partnership 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 currently on the Duncan Archive Committee duncanarchive.org. Catherine is a full-time NYCDOE dance educator at PS 89 in Manhattan. 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 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 has taught with Dance Theatre of Harlem, the School at Peridance, African Culture Connection, and the Little Red Schoolhouse. She 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 currently performs with Chris Ferris and Dancers and Catherine Gallant/Dance. 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 Bronx Preparatory Charter High School in Bronx, New York.
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 is thrilled to be working with MJM Dance. She is also a public school dance educator in Brooklyn.
The process of creating Escape from the House of Mercy began in October 2017 when the company was awarded a grant from the Partnerships for Parks to create a new dance based on the former workhouse at Inwood Hill Park called the House of Mercy. It grew from a 10 minute work to a half hour work which was performed with live music at Inwood Hill Park in June 2019. As the 30 minute dance theater piece expanded to one hour we were booked at Danspace St. Mark’s (Dance Access) for April 2020. Due to COVID we were postponed and then eventually cancelled. In November 2020 company member and videographer, Erica Lessner, created an 11 minute video inspired by our project which included projections to be used in the performance and footage shot by dancers in July/August 2020. Today we present yet another version of our project which we hope to bring to a full production in a theater sometime in the near future.
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