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Mercy (1993)

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Choreography and Performance: Dawn Kramer Music: Bulgarian State Female Vocal Choir and Hildegarde of Bingen

Mercy references the title of Andrea Dworkin's controversial book. The dance is a reverse striptease to Bulgarian folk music. It uses the layering and binding of underwear worn in odd ways as a metaphor for restrictions and violence against women. It is a challenging piece to perform, both physically and emotionally. Mercy makes some audience members uncomfortable as it is a somewhat graphic look at the often hidden problem of domestic violence. It was selected by Dance Umbrella for Flying Solo, a curated concert of four solo performers.


The most compelling work on the program was "Mercy," a new solo for Kramer that examined - with both humor and poignancy - the increasing violence against women. Kramer began the dance dressed in only a bra and pantyhose, and in a reverse striptease, slowly added other undergarments, some clutched between her teeth, others wrapped around her head and legs . Women, Kramer appeared to say, are trapped in a web of society's own images and expectations. As the dance ended and the mournful score grew in intensity, Kramer appeared visibly moved by her own performance. It was a powerful and intimate moment."

--Andrew Dreyfus

The Boston Herald, June 2, 1993

Kramer’s inspiration for this dance was the alarming increase in recent times in violence against women. Beginning the dance in pantyhose and a bra, she gradually dons other lingerie items – a black bustier goes on backward, two more bras drape her torso and head, black lace goes between her teeth like a gag...Some moments are comical, others are disturbing. The final image of a woman rendered helpless by her state of undress, the trappings of wardrobe, and other, unseen factors, is stark and poignant.

--Diane C. Grant

The Boston Globe, June 26, 1993