What does a dancer look like? A new, undaunted production puts bigger bodies on stage and reclaims their creative capacity in defiance of aesthetic norms.
In her final work as Force Majeure’s artistic director, Kate Champion collaborates with artist, film maker and fat activist Kelli Jean Drinkwater on Nothing to Lose, a performance that contests social stereotypes and celebrates the unique physicality of the large body.
“It struck me when watching a dance floor at clubs and parties that the bigger person on the floor was the one I was watching. Yet no matter what we say about diversity, there’s not much representation of larger body shapes in dance and performance,” said Kate Champion.
As engaging as a typical dancer’s body can be, it’s not representative of our audience. I’m interested in what it would be like to see a full cast express a different type of choreographic vocabulary.
Drinkwater describes her meeting with Champion as synchronistic. The self-described ‘radical fattie’ and film maker of Aquaporko! – a film about a fat femme synchronised swimming team – was looking into using dance in her next project.
Drinkwater is internationally recognised for her work in body politics, which aims to engender complex and empowered representations of people of size.
Nothing to Lose features seven performers, all expressing a potentially unfamiliar type of movement that comes from bigger bodies. It’s also an exploration of the performers’ personal stories.
“I hope anyone unaccustomed to big sizes on stage goes beyond the face-value judgement and sees larger people as complex individuals,” said Champion.
Performers were selected through an extensive callout and audition process – “I’m tempted to say ‘we found them using that professional big body dance agency,’” jokes Champion.
While only some of the dancers are accustomed to performance, particularly in the LGBTQI or burlesque worlds which can be more accepting than the mainstream, all were selected on their charisma, ability to move and willingness to explore.
Nothing to Lose is on at Carriageworks on:
21 January at 8pm (preview performance)
22-24 January at 8pm
24 January at 3pm
25 January at 5pm
Tickets are $65 ($59 for concession). Book at Sydney Festival.
Artist talk with Kate Champion, Kelli Jean Drinkwater and others is on 24 January at 4.30pm.