"Heaven did not seem to be my home … and I broke my heart with weeping to come back to earth; and the angels were so angry that they flung me out, in the middle of the heath on top of Wuthering Heights.” Prophetic words from Catherine Earnshaw. Here we share Yorkshire's greatest story of passion with a truly Moor-ish fusion dance inspired by Emily Brontë’s Gothic tale, softened by Kate Bush’s lyrical interpretation. This is something of a dance-drama; mimetic gestures suggest Cathy’s ghost is still possessed by her earthly obsessions: cruel Heathcliff, the mysterious foundling; “an unreclaimed creature", “a fierce, pitiless, wolfish man”, vindictive, tormented, scheming; motivated and energised by revenge.
"If all else perished, and he remained,
I would continue to be.
I am Heathcliff!"
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Heathcliff occupies the threshold between the human and the elemental but is emphatically male. Why do we find him so fascinating? Jung had a theory: Heathcliff is partly a negative, demonic animus; the male personification of the unconscious in woman, and possibly a manifestation of Emily Bronte’s own animus. It helps too when he’s played on film by the likes of Timothy Dalton…
Costume planning was fun; we agreed, for historical accuracy (the novel is set in the late C18th), it had to be corsets, laced up tight, with raggedy overskirts and tatter bustle belts inspired by Catherine Toolan Dance Designs (see Links) to reflect the wind-whipped moors above Haworth. Catherine Earnshaw, deceased, is represented by the various subtle tones of the earth, stone, heather and moss that cover her remains. Her restless spirit is caught in our whirling white veils. We added a touch of real ivy for its symbolic value: its entwining habit represents the tenacious spirit of woman, and the spiralling cycles of the moon.
In the churchyard Edgar Linton remains coffined, but his wife’s bones begin to merge with those of Heathcliff. The narrator muses: “I sought, and soon discovered, the three head-stones on the slope next the moor … and wondered how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth...” Below ground, there’s a fusion of a different kind.