The Dancing Plague

Gareth Brookes


The Dancing Plague tells a true story, from 1518, when hundreds of inhabitants of Strasbourg were suddenly seized by the strange and unstoppable compulsion to dance, from the imagined perspective of Mary, one of its witnesses. Prone to mystic visions as a child, betrayed in the convent to which she flees, then abused by her loutish husband, Mary endures her life as an oppressed and ultimately scapegoated woman with courage, strength, and inspiring beauty. As difficult to interpret now (as a psychological reaction to social injustice?) as it was then (as a collective demonic possession?), the story of the “Dancing Plague” finds suitably extraordinary expression in the utterly unique mixed-media style Gareth Brookes has devised to tell it. The pioneering blend of his trademark “pyrographic” technique with sumptuously colourful (and literal) embroidery perfectly reflects, in a beautiful work of art, the enduring fragility of our human condition – from “choreomania” to coronavirus.

Creator Bio

Gareth Brookes studied printmaking at the Royal College of Art. His graphic novels include A Thousand Coloured Castles (2017) and The Black Project, which was nominated in the Sélection Officielle at the 2018 Festival de la Bande Dessinée in Angoulême. His work has appeared in ArtReview, been published by Kuš, and was included in the “Comics Unmasked” exhibition at the British Library in 2014.

Price £14.99
Format Paperback / softback
Publication Date 27 May 2021
Pages 192
Height 240mm
Width 170mm
Illustrations Full colour illustration
ISBN-13 9781910593981