JOHNSBURG — Robin Jay thrust her hips side to side and chasséd around her broom.
She raised the riding stick above her head and laughed, her long green nose displaying one huge wart.
“Shabby,”As she is a master of costume, she joined her enchanting friends Wednesday afternoon at Riverfront Park in North Creek for a rehearsal.
This is the second year this group of about 20 witches — and one warlock — has donned hag-like costumes, grabbed their brooms and entertained people all in the name of fun.
“Our whole vibe is that we perform outside and free,”Jay, who established the local group in North Creek, said this.
Mary Wigman, a German choreographer and modern dancer, created the Witch Dance in 1913 to bring expression, emotion, and healing to dance.
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The coven began practicing in August. They offer free performances through September and October leading up to Halloween. They will perform Saturday at 11 a.m. in North Creek, and Sunday at 3 p.m. in Indian Lake at the Moose Festival.
They practice twice per week at North Creek. The rules are very simple. You must come when you can and do your best. Everyone must be vaccinated.
“When we come together, we create this energy that’s just such a positive force in our life,”Jay said. “When we bring that out to people in the world, it just feels so good.”
These mostly retired women also perform at local schools and the children love the costumes and cackles.
“The spirit that it creates everywhere is so beautiful,”Susan Murante, a self-described publicity witch, said it. “People love it, and they get up and dance with the witches when the dance is over.”
The Witches Dance brings joy to the performers as they lift their legs in a kickline to AC/DC’s hit. “Highway to Hell.”
Martha Merchant, also known under the name “Mama Wolf”She wears a fur stole around the neck and has always wanted a career as a June Taylor Dancer. “The Jackie Gleason Show.”
“I love to dance,” Merchant said, “and this group of women is amazing. It’s a sisterhood that’s incredible.”
When Merchant’s husband fell ill, she continued performing with the witches.
“It got my mind off of my problems,” Merchant said. “And these women are so supportive and loving and caring. I’m not sure I could have gotten through that year without them.”
The witches regrouped in full force and dressed in costume after the death of her husband.
“These witches just surrounded me with hugs and kisses, and it’s indescribable,”She spoke. “I will be forever grateful.”
Chris Flack, who is self-described as Chris Flack “ADKeene,”The lumberjack witch, who was fighting ovarian cancer, endured chemotherapy last year.
“It was this group that took my mind off the chemo and just helped me get through, and they’re still doing that,”Flack, in head to toe checkers, said Flack.
She carries an ax she calls “Babe”Instead of a broom.
Martha Bilsback, the witch known as Martha Bilsback, is a new member of the group. “Rosie,” watched a friend dance last year at Basil & Wick’s.
“Suddenly all these witches emerged from the bushes in this fabulous dance, and I said to my husband, ‘I can do this!’”She spoke. “Hence I am ‘Rosie’ of ‘We can do it’ Rosie the Riveter.”
More witch stories will be posted on the group’s Facebook page at facebook.com/gemradiotheatre.
Even though they don’t fly, the witches definitely lift each other up in camaraderie.
“All of these women, these amazing women,” “Queenie”Witch Kathy Maiorana “are just dedicated to bringing joy and laughter to the community.”
Gretta Hochsprung writes features, local news and other pieces. She can be reached at 518-742-3206 or [email protected]