Seattle-based choreographer Pat Graney received Choreography Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts for 11 consecutive years, as well as from Artist Trust, the Washington State Arts Commission, the NEA International Program, National Corporate Fund for Dance and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. In 2008, Ms. Graney was awarded both the Alpert Award and a US Artists Award in Dance.
In 2011 Ms. Graney was the recipient of the ‘Arts Innovator’ Award from Artist Trust and the Dale Chihuly Foundation. In 2013, Ms. Graney was one of 20 Americans to receive a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award.
Ms. Graney hails from St. Augustine, Florida, where she spent her seminal years after the Graney family relocated there from Chicago. In 1969, with her family, Pat moved to Mechanicsville, VA and Philadelphia, PA, before returning to St. Augustine to finish high school. Starting her college career at Tallahassee Community College, Ms. Graney eventually went on to The Evergreen State College, then transferred to University of Arizona where she graduated with a BFA in 1979. While at U of A, Pat studied extensively with Dr. John M. Wilson. In the fall of 1979, Graney moved to Seattle, which has been her home for the past thirty years.
In 1981, Graney presented her first full evening of work entitled ‘go red go red, laugh white,’ set to the writing of Gertrude Stein. She went on to choreograph more work to Stein’s writing as well as the writing of Julio Cortazar and Raymond Carver. Departing from the written word, Graney started exploring the use of music combined with American Sign Language to create Colleen Ann, a work commissioned for the French/American Dance Exchange in 1986.
In 1987, with Beliz Brother, she created a work for 7 gymnasts on 7 sets of uneven parallel bars, set against the backdrop of Marymoor Park, and in 1988 Graney created an original work for Pacific NW Ballet. Seven/Uneven toured to the Serious Fun Festival at Lincoln Center and went on to appear at MayFest in Glasgow in 1991. Following the gymnastic works, Ms. Graney began to create a body of work related to women with Faith (1991), Sleep (1995), and Tattoo (2001). In between creating this Triptych of works, Ms. Graney created the full evening work Vivaldi, choreographed 150 gymnasts for the Goodwill Games, and worked with 130 female martial artists for the Movement Meditation Project in 1996. Following the 12 city national tour of Tattoo, Graney created the Vivian girls (set to the artwork of Henry Darger) with music by Martin Hayes and Amy Denio. In 2008, Graney created House of Mind, an installation performance work set in a 5000 square foot raw space featuring an eighteen foot high wall containing 4000 miniatures, a wall of 100,000 buttons with water flowing over it, a closet of giant little girls’ dresses, hundreds of gold shoes, a 50 x 4 foot-long room covered with 1940’s police reports and a large scale video installation by Ellen Bromberg.
Ms. Graney’s interest in working with incarcerated women began in 1992 after a conversation with Rebecca Terrell, then head of Florida Dance Festival. This conversation later morphed into what has become Keeping the Faith/The Prison Project. KTF is an arts-based residency program that features dance, expository writing and visual arts, and culminates in performances. This project has been conducted at FCI Lowell & FCI Broward in Florida, MCI Framingham in Massachusetts, Excelsior Girls School in Denver, Houston City Jail, Echo Glen Children’s Center & King County Juvenile Detention in Washington, Red Rock Juvenile Center in Maricopa County, AZ, Shakopee Women’s Prison in Minnesota, Estrella Jail in Phoenix, AZ, River City Correctional Center in Cincinnati, OH, Tokyo Girls Detention in Japan, Bahia Women’s Prison in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, Munich City Jail in Munich, Germany, the Dochas Centre/MountJoy Prison in Dublin, Ireland and Washington State Corrections Center for Women and Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women in Washington State.
Keeping the Faith/The Prison Project is one of the longest-running prison arts programs in the US.
Ms. Graney’s latest work, a peformance/installation project called girl gods, will premiere at On the Boards in Seattle in 2015. With National Dance Project Production and Touring support, the work will tour nationally and internationally through 2016.