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Catherine Gallant/DANCE presents site-specific work "Escape from the House of Mercy"
Catherine Gallant/Dancewill present Escape from the House of Mercy, for two FREE performances outdoors, Thurs. June 27 and Fri. 28 at 6:30 pm at Inwood Hill Park in Upper Manhattan. Run time is approx. 35 minutes.
Escape from the House of Mercy is a site-based work which is influenced by historical information about Inwood Hill Park where the House of Mercy, a workhouse for women and girls, once stood. This event is presented with support from the Partnerships for ParksInwood Parks Grant, made possible by Columbia University. Partnerships for Parks is a joint program of City Parks Foundation and NYC Parks. Weather updates will be posted at www.catherinegallantdance.com and Facebook/CatherineGallantDance. info: (917) 673-3132
Directions: take the A train to 207thSt. Exit at 211th St and Isham. Walk on Isham two blocks west to Inwood Hill Park. Enter at Seaman Ave & Isham, take a right and walk north to Pat’s Lawn near 218 St and Indian Rd. Guides will direct audience members to the site. No seating is provided but audience members may bring their own chairs or mats.
In addition, a walking tour led by Inwood historian, Cole Thompson, will take place on Fri., June 28 at 5:30 pm preceding the performance. The tour will highlight the history of the park as participants travel up the path towards the original location of the House of Mercy, which was demolished in 1933.
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 will be the eight dancers of Catherine Gallant/DANCE and a band playing New Orleans funeral music led by Kevin Blancq. Costumes are by Ivana Drazic. Catherine Gallant/DANCE has also received funding from The Harkness Foundation for Dance and Jody and John Arnhold.
The House of Mercy was one of a number of institutions at Inwood Hill Park. These included the Magdalen Asylum for unwed mothers and the House of Rest for tuberculosis patients. The House of Mercy was 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.
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