The steps by the courthouse


Between Duckworth & Water

“We’re mainly exploring gravity in the dancers’ bodies,” Gerry Morita explains over the phone from Edmonton.

Morita, artistic director for Mile Zero Dance, has choreographed Spatial Pull, a dance piece in which dancers flow slowly and languidly down a chosen set of stairs, in a movement she describes as a “melting, continuous falling.” The inspiration came about while she was studying an obscure form of Japanese dance, called Noguchi, which stresses movement of the body which mimics movement in the natural world.

On July 23rd and 24th, at 12:30 p.m., she and her crew of ten local dancers will be performing the piece as part of the Festival of New Dance on the Courthouse Steps, the staircase leading from Duckworth to Water adjacent to the Courthouse.

They couldn’t have picked a better spot. The effects of gravity on the human body have been “explored” at that particular locale since the early nineteenth century. Back then, it was called Market House Hill and was home to the rowdiest public hanging gallows in town, alongside a public market, the post office and the old Courthouse.

Catherine Snow, the last woman ever hanged in Newfoundland, dangled from that very spot in 1834, right after giving birth to a child she conceived with the man who killed her husband.

Not to worry, though—the authorities made sure she was good and recovered from the birth before putting her through the physical demands of a hanging, bless their gentle hearts.

“You know, because of the way that we’re dressed in the piece, there is a macabre element to it,” muses Morita upon hearing about the hill’s weighty history.

“We’re all wearing formal wear, and tumbling, fumbling and falling down the steps. If people know that history, it could really add to their experience.”

— Sarah Smellie
Suggestion for a nook? nooks@thescope.ca

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