Dancers: Naomi Graham, Carlene Brick, Meagan Saulnier, Caleigh Hunter, Christina Plaschka , Lauren Fortier. “Historical inspiration: “For no apparent reason, she just started to dance.” It is said that in July of 1518 a lone woman stepped onto a narrow busy street of Strasbourg, France, and began to dance. This woman was called Frau Troffea and she began the dance epidemic that is said to have lasted over a month, spreading to over 400 people and causing many deaths from exertion. This epidemic was believed to be caused by “hot blood” and members of the medical community proposed even more dancing. Musicians were hired, as were professional dancers to keep the afflicted moving. Every time the sick appeared to be losing steam, the musicians raised the tempo and they were encouraged to quicken their pace. The causes for this epidemic are still debated in academic circles. One thing that I explore is the idea that these people were suffering so much with famine and extreme psychological distress that their body gave way to dance. The movement comes from a place of needing to dance, not wanting to dance. The dancing was said to be contagious and uncontrollable, rather than joyful; the afflicted dancers were said to have expressed fear and desperation and at times called out for help. This dance tells the story of 1518.” – Dyana Sonik-Henderson, Director, Broken Rhythms. It was a pleasure to document 1518. The photos below also include other works by Broken Rhythms Victoria.

Photography: Alina Sotskova