The Madness of the Dance


The Madness of the Dance is a celebration of mass manias and individual obsessions. The piece will include the 'biting mania' that started in a convent in Germany in the 15th Century and spread through Europe, the 'dancing mania' which lasted three hundred years from the 13th Century, and the 'laughing mania' which broke out in a village in  the 20th Century.

The individual obsessive compulsive behaviours I will look at, such as 'trichotillomania' (hair pulling), are much more hidden and domestic but, just like the public manias, go against how we are supposed to behave, and could also be seen as 'psychic rebellions'.

In the middle ages there was an outbreak of dancing manias in Europe that lasted hundreds of years. In the 20th Century thousands of Chinese men and some women thought that their genitalia were vanishing, while schoolgirls in Belgium thought that they were being poisoned by a certain brand of fizzy drink.

Looking at these various cases, and more, the professor takes us on a musical journey through mass hysteria.


Cast & Crew

Professor: Maxine Peake

Producer: Cairo Cannon
Camera: Christopher Doyle & Rain Li
Editor: St. John O'rorke
Composer: Paul Lewis
Sound: Ivor Talbot & Andy Paddon
Choreographer: Tiziana Fracchiolla
Production Designer: Pawlo Wintoniuk

Selected Screenings

  • Carol Morley: The Film-making Years, NFT3, February 2007

Project Background

One of the largest publicly funded award programmes for artists in the UK, the London Artists' Film and Video Awards (LAFVA) scheme offered awards of up to £20,000 for production of artists' moving image work.

From 2000 to 2008 the scheme supported London-based artists working in the context of contemporary moving image practice - producing work intended for exhibition in galleries, festivals, specialist venues and as site specific installations.

Key Information


The Madness of the Dance


Carol Morley



Year Completed




Shooting format

Super 16

Screening format

Single screen, Digi Beta



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