by Stacey Prince
I have followed the visionary Seattle-based choreographer Pat Graney for years. She is probably one of the most innovative modern dance and performance choreographers around. Perhaps some of you were lucky enough to attend the incredible event she orchestrated in Magnuson Park in the mid-90’s, a huge undertaking called “Movement Meditation” with dancers and martial artists moving in waves across the hillside, all accompanied by a giant, 180 foot string instrument.
Recently I had the opportunity to attend another Pat Graney event, and this one was even more astounding. For the past 15 years, she has been working with prison inmates on workshops in dance, art and spoken word, all culminating in an annual performance. “Keeping the Faith: The Prison Project” is:
A program designed to provide positive, creative, and life-affirming experiences for women who are currently incarcerated or in pre-release programs in Washington State. Project Director Pat Graney has developed this program with the following emphases:
1. Explore issues of self-esteem through the development of autobiographical material and the acquisition of performance skills.
2. Experience re-integration with a diverse group of women to build cooperation and mutual respect through partnering and other performance structures.
3. Open pathways for individuals and groups to go inside the prison environment and interface with members of that community. [excerpted from the 2010 program]
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