Girl Gods Oct 4, 2015

by Amontaine Aurore

Pat Graney’s new work makes no apologies. It is a bold and explosive treatise on the seething underbelly of female anger. That anger is born of many things, not the least of which are the explicit as well as insidious messages that expressing it would be unattractive. It is derived by stuffing ourselves into the too-small cultural boxes aimed at keeping us cute, sexy, small, and silent. It is maintained through trying on and wearing the accoutrements that have come to define femininity, yet have served to own and encapsulate it, leaving us at the mercy of a soul crushing dilemma.

Through a series of vignettes that grow progressively darker, five female dancers, a child, an older woman and a doll, take us through cycles of female disempowerment; from cutesy baby doll poses and sex-fueled smiles that hide and confuse patterns of abuse, to hidden and grotesque food rituals, to screams that are at last released in all their horrific glory, to limbs and high heels that writhe and thrash in a type of catalytic exorcism.

The set mirrors the chaotic and omnipresent construction of those too-small boxes. The costumes and the severe use of color give strength to the stark symbology of the piece. The ending is an extended ritual full of such metaphorical power that sitting in that audience I felt as if my own anger and frustrations were transmuted simply through seeing it, naming it, and at least for a time, unapologetically claiming it.