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Long's Hill in St. John's in the live-streamed limelight in "docu-dance" by Louise Moyes


Wendy Rose

The Telegram

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Over 100 viewers tuned in on Thursday, Nov. 19 for a live stream of St. John’s-based dancer and creator Louise Moyes’ “docu-dance” called “Long’s Hill Walk: I live(d) Here.”

Originally performed in 2018, Moyes adapted the performance to be held at the LSPU Hall and broadcast live by the Canadian National Arts Centre.

At that time, I heralded the event – a 90-minute walking tour that led us around Long’s Hill, surrounding streets, local parks and even through a few backyards – as “undeniably the highlight of the 2018 Festival of New Dance.”

Though unable to bring us through the neighbourhood due to the ongoing pandemic, Moyes instead gave us a virtual geography and history lesson, informed by people who live in or had lived in the area over the past 200 years.

Gabriel Moyes-Vaandering, Moyes’ son, kicked off the performance speaking fondly of his neighbourhood before joining his mother in a performance piece, the pair dancing in front of a projection screen and using props like a long scarf to show the connection between the pair as they slowly became intertwined – the only two performers able to circumvent social distancing protocols due to their familial relationship.

Moyes performed several monologues about the area’s community, culture and local significance. While highlighting the good, Moyes did not omit the more hidden side of the neighbourhood, like the local sex work industry, the opioid crisis, poverty, and more.

Dancers Ryan Davis and Andrea Tucker performed in a number of pieces throughout the show, the duo creating a special socially distanced piece to accompany a 1590 “balletto” by Italian composer Orazio Vecchi.

Local human rights activist Kim White reprised her 2018 role, delivering a monologue about a family with physically disabled children living on the steep hill. White performed a chair dance – using her arms and fingers to tell a story through movement while seated.

“Long’s Hill Walk: I live(d) Here” received a slight update since its original performance, with Moyes detailing the effects of January 2019’s Snowmageddon on the neighbourhood, and how it brought the community together at that time. A new spoken-word piece and dance accompanied the tale.

“I feel more comfortable in my neighbourhood now, I have to say. More grounded in it, connected with it, with the trees, the alleyways, and the people. And I’ve continued to meet new people,” Moyes said, introducing downhill neighbour Winnie Churchill and uphill neighbour Sophie Angnatok. The hip-hop artist and Indigenous throat singer/traditional Inuit drummer were also new additions to the show.

As Angnatok’s throat singing faded out, Churchill began singing his beautiful original song “Both Ways” off an upcoming EP, as the entire cast danced.

The live chat went wild with comments about the gorgeous song – a very positive ending to a wonderful live-streamed event.

After viewing this docu-dance, I stand by my 2018 observation: "Though it is a short road, Long’s Hill has a lengthy and colourful history, and Louise Moyes is going above and beyond in serving and preserving her neighbourhood by encapsulating a small but grand piece of local lore by combining community spirit and dance."

The show is still available, free online until 9:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20, 2020 at: 

https://nac-cna.ca/en/event/27704

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