Written by Anne Motl, with Kristen Legg
On the Boards presented the work of Pat Graney October 21-24, 2010 to sold out audiences. “Faith Triptych combines three iconic performances created over the span of a decade (1991-2001) into an evening-length mini retrospective. Faith, Sleep and Tattoo, all originally commissioned by OtB, (were) recreated and shown back to back for the first time….”
Starting off the four-hour long dance theater performance at OtB was Faith. Graney began working on this piece over a decade ago. Two of the stunning performers in this section–Amii Legendre and KT Niehoff–were original cast members of this work and are Seattle dance icons. The choreography appeared simple in the opening section. The dancers wore maroon costumes that they tugged and pulled. However, it was clear that the work was highly choreographed and detailed. Between these intricate shapes and picturesque formations resembling art of the 15th century, dancers were adjusting their costumes, reminding the audience that the dancers are, in fact, human even though they are depicting such historical imagery.
The next section of Faith started off with a comical solo performed by Legendre, in which she put toe tape on her feet and struggle to fit into heels. This led into what became the most notable aspect of Graney’s work—her unique vision and use of shoes. All types of shoes appeared on stage in this performance: Legendre’s heels, little black shoes, bulky combat boots, and even platform boots that were connected to guitar strings and black, hooped tutus. The rhythmic footwork of the sections involving shoes in all three pieces, Faith, Sleep, and Tattoo, was amazing.
The next section of the triptych, Sleep, made the audience remember that one can never expect the usual when seeing a show at OtB. What first started out with a little girl blowing out her birthday candles, ended with a death ritual—creating the most developed and intricate section of the evening. Sleep offered a prop-filled piece with a floor covered in white fabric, a nightstand, an alligator bed, a birthday cake, a wedding cake, matches, a bike, and a very long table that transforms from the head wedding table to a tomb. In this haunting tableau, the wedding scene leads into a rhythmic Irish jig and then into a beautiful and uplifting scene with falling rice. The final image of this section is unforgettable as the performers prepare the body of a loved one, using the same white wedding cloth that covered the floor in the beginning to drape over a dancer lying on the transformed table. Dancers continued to perform a death ritual by taking care of the space and thoughtfully bringing all the things that are left behind after a person has gone to a final resting place back on to the stage. Here Graney did not forget one detail, from the image of a mother of holding a dead child to the final candle that is blown out by the young performer, Sleep is pure genius.
Tattoo was the final section of the evening, and what, again, was so inspiring was the performance executed by these Seattle dance stars. Alison Cockrill, Amii Legendre, KT Niehoff, Kim Root, and Sandra Fann stood their ground, were completely committed to the movement, and demonstrated why dancers from all over the country flock to Seattle to dance. These wonderful performers have been some of the most-watched dancers in this community for over a decade, and they are even more beautiful to watch in Graney’s work today than one can possibly imagine.
Faith Triptych is stunning, and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It is a show that will inspire Seattle dancers and dance lovers for generations to come. The last scheduled performance of Pat Graney’s Faith Triptych is October 24, 2010 at On the Boards. However, this performance, just like the rest of the week, was sold out. Seattle audiences can only hope for an extended run.