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'Forbidden Creature Virgin Whore' is a twist on female archetypes

Chandra Moss, Beau Hancock, Paul Struck and Dana Pleakis rehearse for "Forbidden Creature Virgin Whore." Credit: Tobin Rothlein Chandra Moss, Beau Hancock, Paul Struck and Dana Pleakis rehearse for "Forbidden Creature Virgin Whore."
Credit: Tobin Rothlein

Amanda Miller was studying a traditional dance in Cambodia when she realized how disturbing its fairy tale story was in light of contemporary reality. The dance tells the tale of a beautiful young girl discovered in a garden by a prince, who seduces her despite her tears and pleading – a standard fantasy thrown into stark relief by the Cambodian sex trade going on in the real world.

“It made me want to look at the stories in my Western upbringing and classical ballet background,” Miller says. “Growing up with those princess fairy tales in my brain and then being confronted by a new way of seeing reality, how would I view those characters today? How would I place them in my modern feminist context?”

That inspiration led to the creation of Miller’s “Forbidden Creature Virgin Whore,” which opens the latest season by her company, Miller Rothlein. The piece, in which Miller collaborated with fantasy and sci-fi illustrator Kristin Kest, imagines three female archetypes and their contemporary parallels: the forbidden creature, the virgin whore and the domestic goddess.

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“Each of those categories has a built-in dichotomy,” Miller explains. “For the forbidden creature, we went from the swan queen to the female vampire to the drag queen. For the virgin whore, of course we talked a lot about Miley Cyrus and the pop princesses. And the domestic goddess goes from the elevated servant — Cinderella or Snow White — to the otherworldly awesomeness of the yoga mom who looks amazing while taking care of her kids and keeping the house clean and putting dinner on the table. She has a superhuman power, but a power that comes from a place of subservience.”

This questioning twist on familiar fables is Miller’s entry for a season in which Miller Rothlein examines everyday ideas that may otherwise be taken for granted. The season continues in February with company co-founder Tobin Rothlein’s “From the Spot Where We/You/I Stand (Stood),” which combines sculpture, performance and dance.

“This season is about looking closer,” Miller says, “seeing those things that were always there but giving you a new perspective from which to view them. This show certainly has amazing dancers performing their craft to an extraordinarily high level, but there’s also a real investigation going on, a real chance to flip your expectations.”

Miller Rothlein: ‘Forbidden Creature Virgin Whore’
Nov. 14-17
Crane Arts Old School
1417 N. Second St.
$20, 267-888-6476
www.millerrothlein.org

 
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