Premiere: Mount Moriah’s ‘How To Dance’ Video Dismantles Gendered Childhood

Mount Moriah’s How To Dance is the third album from the North Carolina trio composed of Jenks Miller, Casey Toll, and frontwoman Heather McEntire. It’s a deeply affecting record driven by McEntire’s silvery folk songwriting, and one that kicked off with a manifesto dedicating the album to loners, outcasts, misfits, underdogs, and the artists and activists who fight for them:

McEntire is a queer woman herself who grew up mired in southern culture’s fairly unaccepting culture and came out later in life. “How To Dance” is a slow-burning ballad with a blistering core, a question as contract between speaker and listener. For the album’s title track, McEntire explained that she was particularly struck by the experience of a transgender child, and penned the song from the perspective of a kid facing bullying and contemplating suicide. However, as she sees it, the ethos of the track can be applied to any disenfranchised group.

Here’s her statement on the track:

Never has a song come so easily to me, with such power, inspiring the inner sleeve manifesto and becoming the album’s title track. “How to Dance” was written from the perspective of a transgender child being bullied into suicide, although the narrative can apply to any disenfranchised, oppressed group — racial minorities, cultural misfits, etc. For those people living outside the lines of socio-normative privilege, acknowledging and expressing simple emotions — like dance, dreams, desire — can be difficult or even dangerous. Now, with the passing of North Carolina’s despicable and discriminating HB2 bill, this narrative resonates further. What would happen if we weren’t caged by fear or judgement? I know I would have started living sooner.

Today, we’re premiering the “How To Dance” video accompanying this powerful piece of songwriting. The visuals follow two children, presumably brothers, playing outdoors and creating plaster casts. It’s a simple and innocent accompaniment to a weighty song full of yearning, and director Alexis Bravos opted to keep the video light while still getting to the vulnerability at the heart of the song:

Knowing that the song is intended to be from the perspective of a transgender child, I wanted the video to somehow address those particular vulnerable feelings without being pedantic. I also wanted to celebrate the joy and freedom that comes from play in a space that the children control completely. The video was shot on 16mm film using a Bolex camera.

Watch the clip at the top of the page, and check out Mount Moriah’s full tour dates below:

Mount Moriah on tour:
11/10 Charlotte, NC Evening Muse
11/11 Savannah, GA – The Jinx
11/13 Harrisonburg, VA – The Golden Pony
11/14 Pittsburgh, PA – Club Cafe
11/15 Buffalo, NY – The Ninth Ward
11/16 New York, NY – Rockwood Music Hall
11/18 New Haven, CT – Cafe Nine
11/19 Northampton, MA – Iron Horse Music Hall

How To Dance is out now via Merge Records. Get it here.