Pat Graney Dance Company.
Pat Graney's The Vivian Girls brings to life the disturbing world of outsider artist Henry Darner, providing a fascinating window into tire psychotic creation (if an artist virtually unknown during his lifetime. Darger's work, called "The Story of the Vivian (;iris," was a multi-volume text with hundreds of watercolors, a smattering of which ale projected as a backdrop during the dance. His images are at times horrific, showing violent encounters--mass murders involving unsuspecting characters.
Graney's inspired 70-minute piece explores moral landscapes rather than the temporal ones seen in her previous work, Tattoo. The Vivian girls are five (seven in Darger's work) would he heroines, trying to save society from death and destruction. They're only partially successful in halting apocalyptic horror.
One of tire intriguing aspects of Graney's work is the disparity in scale. ht this piece Graney translates the brightly-colored illustrations into the movement of little girls surrounded by big props, and pursued by militia men and winged creatures called Blengins. The slow, eerie moves of the seemingly innocent children are prescient of forthcoming terror.
Graney's Vivian girls, as performed by Diana Cardiff, Alison Cockrill, Sara Jinks, Saiko Kobayashi, and Cathy Sutherland, have unique personalities that come into full form by the end of the piece--with progressively bolder steps and more interaction. They fight their demons, wearing the sweetest frocks (designed by Frances Kenny) and bobbed black hair (styled by Wade Madsen). Elsewhere in the piece, the Vivian girls shed the child-like dresses for odd androgynous wear--tank tops and shorts with little cloth genitalia attached. They don huge butterfly-like wings (created by Ledawn King) and pointe shoes. These foreign, winged creatures move in knock-kneed fashion throughout--even the echappe is turned in. Such movement slows the action: The heroines do not seem Io make much progress. The action is understated and a bit cautious, with the little girls tentatively peering at each other, their movement often punctuated by tableaux.
The weight of Darger's images is felt throughout, with Graney's dancers stepping into the projections--to the tunes spun by fiddler-composer Martin Hayes and vocals and accordion by long-time Graney collaborator Amy Denio. Denio's tranquil and melodic musical pastiche provides a contrast to the bold, vibrant art. Graney and Denio's dance and sound-scape is mesmerizing in its exploration of the life work of a reclusive artist. The dancers move on a set of giant book like portfolios (designed by Bob and Colleen Bonniol), reminiscent of Darger's crowded workspace.
With "The Vivian Girls, Graney shows herself to be a master of caricatures--strong on intent and understated in terms of the drama that she wields. In this fairy tale gone wrong, the subdued movement, harmonious music, and earth-toned sets belie Darger's crazed characterizations and leave the viewer wanting mine. Graney reveals more of a dream like odyssey in Darger's obsessive world than the vivid depiction of the graphic horror he summoned to show it.
June 27 July 4, 2004--Miami Beach, Florida
See www.patgraney org.
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|Title Annotation:||The Story of the Vivian Girls|
|Article Type:||Dance Review|
|Date:||May 1, 2004|
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