Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever

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On Saturday, July 16, Kate Bush fans will gather in James Madison Park to perform her iconic dance from her 1978 “Wuthering Heights” music video. It’s the Madison, WI edition of the “Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever” event that is happening simultaneously all over the world.

Out on the wiley windy moor of James Madison Park, we will dance out our hot tempers and chase away our bad dreams. We’ll wear flowing red dresses and bring our Kate Bush adoration and boundless joy. Collectively, we hope to gather the most Kates ever and re-create the Wuthering Heights experience en masse!

According to Tone Madison, “As strange cultural happenings go, it strikes me as one of the more charming things to happen in Madison for a while.” Read the full article here:
“Massive Kate Bush Video Reenactment Coming to James Madison Park,” Tone Madison

It all started in 2013 when a UK-based performance group called Shambush staged “The Ultimate Kate Bush Experience” at the Brighton Fringe Festival. They choreographed an outdoor performance of 300 people dressed as Kate Bush reenacting her Wuthering Heights dance:

Inspired by the Shambush event, Kate Bush fans in Berlin decided to create a day called “The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever.” From the central Berlin event, international sister events popped up from Melbourne to Montreal to Tel Aviv, as well as a London event organized by Shambush.

I noticed that only one U.S. city (Atlanta) was organizing an event, and thought it would be amazing if Madison could create one. So I ran the idea by a few of my friends and they were really excited about it too, so we decided to do it! River Bullock, Megan Milks, Bonnie Murphy, Victoria Vasys and I are organizing the event.

On Thursday, July 14, at 6:30pm, we are offering a free public dance workshop in James Madison Park so that everyone can learn and practice the dance together.

On the day of the performance, Saturday, July 16, we will begin at 12:00pm and conclude around 3:00pm. The event will include another workshop, a rehearsal, a filmed dance, and an un-filmed dance, plus time for socializing. Final schedule/details will be announced soon.

The international excitement about this event is a testament to the cult figure status of Kate Bush, and the creativity she inspires. Like so many others, I am a longtime Kate Bush fan — I have always been captivated by her performance of witchy feminine energy, and her avant-garde blend of music, dance, visual art, and performance art.

“Wuthering Heights,” Kate Bush’s most iconic song/video, is inspired by Emily Brontë’s brilliant, beautiful novel: Kate is singing to Heathcliff in the voice of Catherine. Brontë’s novel is known for its powerful emotional landscape — tragic, melancholic, passionate, desperate, desirous, hopeless — which Kate channels into her song. The dance is exuberant, but also inflected with sadness — references to the novel reveal that Cathy is a ghost, calling to Heathcliff beyond the grave.

I think that Kate performs a powerful feminist re-imagining of the tragic, hysterical woman archetype. She embodies Catherine’s character in all of her melodramatic emotional distress, but instead of frailty she exudes a kind of subversive power, taking control of the narrative.

In real life, Kate Bush maintained great control over her own image. She wrote, recorded, and released “Wuthering Heights” at age 18, and became the first UK woman musician to have a #1 hit song as writer/performer (rather than only performer).

It’s incredibly beautiful to see the original Shambush dancers lovingly recreate the magical world of Kate’s music. I also love the diversity of genders and body types that are represented, and the performers’ total dedication to the dance without obsessing over getting it perfect. No dance experience is required for this fabulous Madison happening – we will learn and practice together. This day is for everyone who loves Kate Bush, and magic!

I am thinking about my organization of this event and participation in the larger project as part of my relational aesthetics practice. “The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever” is an homage to Kate Bush, but it’s also a collaborative artwork, an act of community that materializes a shared fantasy world. The aesthetic and affective experience of the collective performance is created through the projected relationships the dancers have with Kate and with other dancers across the world, and the embodied relationships they have with each other in their shared kinesthetic landscape, dancing across the moors of James Madison Park and elsewhere. ❤

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2 responses to “Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever

  1. Beautiful piece, Katrina!!! I’ve spent the last few days trying to uncover more of the meaning of the song and how it expresses kate as a feminist. I think it’s difficult enough to re-imagine a tale told during a wholly different time, when simply writing a book as a woman was a feminist act– & expressing honest & independent thought was rare & dangerous indeed. But I think the dance is what truly brings Kate’s feminist force to the forefront. It’s an all-out attack on inhibition & fear. I simply can’t believe that kate was just 18 when she finished it (probably all written in one sitting no less!) & that she had already written over 200 songs by that time; it’s mind-boggling! AND to top it all off, she fought the industry tooth & nail to feature wuthering heights as the first single of her first album; she is an insane inspiration!!! thank you for inspiring us all to take part in this special celebration!! ❤ ❤ ❤

    • Thank you so much for your brilliant insights, Victoria!! And for your inspiring Kate Bush-esque energy, and helping to make this event a reality!! I love this: “But I think the dance is what truly brings Kate’s feminist force to the forefront. It’s an all-out attack on inhibition & fear.” ❤ ❤ ❤

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