Sunday 25th January 5pm
“Fat” is a powerful little word, full of baggage and judgement. This undaunted dance production makes use of real-life experiences and stories to challenge aesthetic norms and reclaim a performative space for people with large bodies. In her final work as Force Majeure’s artistic director, Kate Champion collaborates with artist and fat activist Kelli Jean Drinkwater to celebrate the sculptural splendour of the fat dancing body. Unseen, unexpected and unapologetic, this new work abandons stereotypes and reshapes expectations.
The stage is very simple with 7 stage box platforms (2 steps) that is moved across the stage and the back to the stage. Throughout the show, there is a strong use of strobe lights to give effects of fashion walk and journey of abuse. Very simple however well used.
Nothing to Lose portrays the experience of being “fat” is relevant here and now. The show was not about fat pride or tackling discrimination, rather it is a demonstration of what an overweight body can do and to challenge the perceptions about what makes a dancer.
The beauty and the suffering were explored throughout the performance. While flesh is squeezed into incredible various shapes and the sexuality of bigger bodies celebrated with burlesque feathers and stripper stalks, frustration and self-loathing are necessarily addressed too.
Labels for fat people were spoken to the audience – some thought it was funny while other wasn’t. There are jabs (“chunky”, “roly poly”, “pig”), those that assign personality traits (“vivacious”, “bubbly”, “jolly”) and, worst of all, squeamish phrases that damn with faint praise, “Such a pretty face.”
For me, the dance was the winner in this work. The movement is of quality and the dancers owned it. There are no attempts at camouflage their own body – big butts and flowing flab are the currencies here, to be squeezed, kneaded, slapped and shaken with confidence.
This acutely self-aware performance knows the more achievable task in one evening is to initiate our journey towards that appreciation, not to complete it.