"Three stilt-walking equine women in white, red and black emerge from nowhere. Amidst fluttering manes and floating silk draperies, the crowd is transported to a world between worlds."
Artist Statement | Mortal Coil Performance Society
Oddly enough, experiencing Mortial Coil Performance Society's Horse Women is exactly like they claim it is: three horse women somehow sprouted out of the Edmonton Folk Fest crowds, danced in unison, bent down to touch the heads and hands of passing crowd members, and made the whole sunlit, candle-toting sit-in a tiny bit more magical than it already was. It was the kind of performance that towered over children on parents' shoulders who reached to touch the elaborate masks, or enthralled visitors like myself, who felt as though they had stumbled upon something quite special in this unfamiliar valley, just south of the North Saskatchewan River.
With the intent to bring "magic and myth" to audiences, the elaborate spectacles erected by Vancouver-based Mortal Coil Performance Society utilize stilts, uniform costuming, and elaborate art objects — like the beautiful horse masks seen in the pictures above and below — to confront and capture audiences with dream-like scenarios. As one of eleven costumed performances under their Chix on Stix public performance series, Horse Women was a beautiful addition to the Edmonton Folk Music Festival's powerful and connective atmosphere, with men and women of all ages sharing the music and the hillside under the gaze of these ethereal characters, and a sweltering sky.
As a performance society, their practice spans site-specific performances, workshops, lectures, and demonstrations, as well as community programs like Ultimate High, a community-based performance program for street-engaged youth, which uses the physical discipline of stilt-walking paired with the creativity of costume-making and performance to positively influence the lives of marginalized adolescents. They're virtually as magical and wholesome as you could possibly imagine colourful horse women to be, all while offering an absurd facet to the festival of music and humanity that is the Edmonton Folk Fest.