AS OF 9/3/10
Seeing how rehearsals for White Christmas begin September 12, I wanted some inspiration to dance. So I went to YouTube and found these great little clips. I hope they make you want to do a dance too!
Of course this one is my fave! I would love to have something like this to dance in a show!
AS OF 7/14/10
This past Saturday night, my friends and I attended a fun little dance concert sponsored by the size-positive organization Big Moves. Before I break it down for you, I wanted to talk a little bit about the company Big Moves, which is celebrating it’s tenth anniversary! First, I want to say, thank you for existing!!!!
Second, and I know this is an off course anecdote but: I went to high school with a guy named Ernie, who was an absolutely brilliant dancer. He had fantastic extension, amazing technique, grace AND was on the dance team. The cool thing about Ernie aside from his shiny attitude was that he was doing all of this amazing stuff even though he isn’t what’s considered a healthy size. He even auditioned for “So You Think You Can Dance” in either the second or third season. Instead of at least sending him to the choreography round they cut him because his movement was too feminine and he was too heavy. But they were all stunned at his switch-leap!! Judge Mia Michaels is a larger than average dancer who continually does amazing works and one would think champion the cause, but sadly she doesn’t. Unfortunately, the performing arts world does tend to have a focus on having a particular build and even a particular ethnicity for nearly everything. But, Big Moves is all about inclusion regardless of size and skill level.
The host for the evening, the dynamic Kirk Willett (pictured below) said, not only am I paraphrasing, but he said these are his personal opinions and not vetted by the company, “Big Moves was created out of frustration. Frustration that you had to be a certain “type” in order to be a dancer. This is a place for people who, while at dance class, think ‘I don’t really fit in here’.” At that point, a young girl said to the adult that was with her: “That’s me.” It’s heartbreaking when you think about it. I don’t consider myself a dancer, mover, yes, but not a “dancer.” There are a million things that I still would LOVE to learn, but a few years ago during 7 Brides for 7 Brothers, I was told something that still sticks with me. And as I always say, I have an awful memory, so if I can still remember that then it had to have meant something, right? What my friend said was that she enjoyed watching me dance because on stage I play this hefty bumbling character, but I don’t move like I am that big. That’s a great compliment, but up until that point I have never thought about performing in that way. And I think ever since then, there has been a kind of block when it comes to dancing. Coincidentally enough, that was the last MAJOR dancing show that I was in. So, once more with feeling, Thank you for existing!
With all that being said, here’s how the evening went down.
Go Big or Go Home came to my attention via my dear friend who runs the blog Notblueatall.com. One of the consistent topics on her site is teaching self acceptance. I find this blog to be highly informative and you may as well. With me being the performing arts enthusiast, as well as a close friend and neighbor, it was only natural for us to go and be inspired together.
The opening of the show started with a parody of “The Jet Song” from West Side Story. The number was titled “The Fat Song” and talks about how frustrating it is that people assume things about others who aren’t slender. The Phat Fly Girls performed this number and a majority of the other numbers as well. It was a cute little number that focused more about the message of accepting yourself regardless of size or faults, which set the tone for the night. The lyrics were actually very close to fitting the original melody, so to whoever wrote it, “Nice work!”. The only negative part about the number was that the sound person had the music up too loud, so I couldn’t hear all of the words sometimes.
Drag performer, Vicodonia worked it out to the tune of Irene Cara’s “Fame.” I did manage to get video footage of that before being told that cameras weren’t allowed in the theatre. Would you like to see it? Let me know. Very funny, but not much dancing. As the music before the lyrics played, she faced up stage and began working out her stretches. This alone was comedy gold. She had a great sense of knowing when to stop the joke before it got old and moved on to a new position. Her lip sync accuracy was about 90% but attitude was 200+! She strutted and sassed her way around stage, serving it up like we were starving. It was a lot of fun, but again, I wanted more dancing. In Act 2, she glammed it up with a HILARIOUS rendition of the drag staple Patti LaBelle’s version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Again, her comic timing was dead on! I don’t know if she could have camped it up further, because it was perfectly overdone. It was a showstoppa!
We were also treated to belly dancing by the stunning ladies of Raks Africa performing to the songs “Tisha” by Ahmad Barro and “Dune Dance” by Ron Wagner. They were so adorable. You could tell that they were having fun and enjoyed performing. I couldn’t get clear pictures because they moved SO fast that most of them came out blurry even with the sports setting on my camera. But here are two that I really like. I was dancing in my seat because they just made me want to jump up and join the fun that they were so clearly having.
The numbers performed by the Phat Fly Girls were Potion, Disaster, Boots, Dreamscapes for Simians and Flightless Birds, and Pump It Up. Potion was a jazz/contemporary piece danced to Morphine’s “Lilah” and “Potion”. Disaster was a jazzy little piece choreographed to the tune of “Miniature Disasters” by KT Tunstall. Boots was a great number incorporating jazz and popular dances during the time of “These Boots Are Made For Walking” by Nancy Sinatra. Dreamscapes…Birds was a contemporary/modern piece danced to the music of Spookie Daly Pride called “Birthday Song.” The theme of the piece was a little unclear as were the formations as there were, at points, two groups dancing and the formation seemed to have lost it’s structure. Pump It Up was a great finale that mainly was a jazz number that added three tappers to the mix. To be perfectly honest, I felt this number was way too short. I really enjoyed watching a specific dancer through out this number because she just dazzled! Yeah, dazzled! Take that you cheap sparkling vampire! You know who I’m talkin’ ’bout. The rest of what was happening during the number is a blur, because I was so focused on her joy to dance that I couldn’t look anywhere else. In the picture below, she’s the one in the poodle skirt. If I am correct, I think her name is Monica Doherty.
As an overall note, some of the dancers had great lines and strong technique. However, I am unsure if some of the dancers have ever performed before, as there were many times that I could see the concentration on their faces. If that’s the case, then I can certainly understand the nerves. There were a few glances at one another’s feet to make sure they were doing the correct steps, and for the most part everyone was in sync. Remember, it’s all about the love of dancing! All in all, the gorgeous Phat Fly Girls are wonderfully talented and thoroughly entertaining. I am looking forward to seeing them perform again.
In addition to Vicadonia, Raks Africa and The Phat Fly Girls, there was a little burlesque to sauce up the joint. The first number was called Godzilla danced to the music of Ladytron titled “Destroy Everything You Touch” The lights went down except for toward the back of the stage where a lone leg peaked out from behind the wall of the stage right wing. Then the beautiful Kitty Von Quim slinks out and leans against that same wall. The music begins building and on a strong down beat, Ms. Kitty whips around and reveals a dinosaur like tail. This of course gets a roar of laughter from the audience. She strutted and pranced about the stage seducing the audience while simultaneously getting upstaged by her tail which was cleverly choreographed into the routine. As the first article of clothing is removed, there’s a distraction. OH NO! What’s happening? Is that a plane? Yes!! Godzilla is being attacked by two planes!!! The campiness of this number is so delicious one can’t help but to whoop and holler for the spectacle of it all. Soon the tail comes off and is used the way one might use a feather boa. Of course, with this being “Godzilla” it can’t hurt to threaten the audience with it as well.
In Act 2, Ms. Von Quim is joined by the rest of the Rubenesque Burlesque company and share a wickedly funny interpretive/burlesque dance with a routine entitled “Fat Camp.” It starts out with a table placed upstage center and 4 dancers wearing t-shirts that say in big thick letters “Fat Camp.” Out in front is a skinny “instructor” who is getting her jazzercize on to the tune of “Summer in the City” by The Lovin’ Spoonful. This part of the routine plays out for about a minute but once that minute mark passes, the dancers are clearly becoming more and more annoyed with the instructor who is now pointing out one by one which area of the body the dancers must work on while at camp. As she turns her back on one girl to go on to the next, the audience sees mutiny rearing it’s head and watches. After the last dancer gets her “assessment” the instructor heads back to the front of the class to continue the routine, but the music begins to fade out as the dancers surround her. As they close in around her, the guitar riffs to Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People” creates the mood of doom. The dancers lift the instructor overhead and place her on the table. As three hold her down another grabs the archenemy of any aerobics teacher: SUGAR!!! This is the form of some pretty tasty looking cupcakes. At this point the number takes off into the realm of burlesque and the Fat Camp shirts fly off. Soon the “villian” is placed behind the table out of audience sight and after an “attack” the dancers come out from behind the table with pieces of the instructor. A foot for one girl, a hand for one more, while one of them actually has the head! Now, at first I was thinking it would be SO awesome if there was another dancer dressed up like the teacher that came out from behind the table after the feeding. But when that didn’t happen it thought “Awww, you didn’t have to kill the teacher.” However, it isn’t so much about the killing of the teacher but what the teacher represented. So I quickly got over that! At the end of the number, I got this (and I know it’s gonna sound so cheesy) teary kind of feeling when these 4 strong and bold women didn’t leave traditionally through an upstage wing, but boldly out through the entrance door! I thought it was smartly empowering. Kudos for that!
In addition to all this lively dancing, activist Marilyn Wann was in attendance and led the audience in a Mad Libs style sing along. It was a lot of fun, but for me kind of short. It was to the tune of “Old McDonald” and it was madness!!!
I think by far, my favorite number was a Bollywood number called Haddipa (“Cheers”). The music was “Hadippa” by Pritam Chakraborty and featured the dancers Rachan Sidhu, Melissa Scott and Monica Doherty. This is in my view the only number where every dancer was not only confident in the moves, but matched that fabulous energy of Monica sharing with the audience that feeling of love for dance. The movements were sharp and every snap of the hands matched the music perfectly. Everything about this number was pure magic, and I wish that I would have disregarded the rule about the not taking any photos, because I am 100% positive that I could have shared that feeling of joy with all of you.
I did email the publicity department for Big Moves prior to the event but got no response back from the company. In addition to that, there was no announcement before the show began that photos were not allowed. Although, I do understand with the burlesque numbers that photography from them could be inappropriately used. So while I do understand, but for people like me that would like to share the joy of what these lovely women are doing, then I would think all the positivity that is bestowed on them would be welcomed. But, should the company see this differently and they would like for the pictures to be removed, then begrudgingly I shall comply. Oh before I forget, I do think that the pace of the entire show overall, needed to be tightened a little. After one dance would end, the excitement and energy in the audience would linger, but it took so long for the next number to begin that the energy needed to be rebuilt instead of feeding off of what was already available. But maybe that’s just me.
Congratulations to the company Big Moves for promoting the spirit of Dance in a welcoming environment and to all. More companies should follow your example. Happy Anniversary!!!
And a standing ovation to the cast of Go Big or Go Home for an amazing evening of Dance and entertainment! You are inspiration personified.
*Correction: The Mad Libs style song was to the tune of “Bingo” Thanks Lady Sista Gurl for the reminder. I could just remember the farmer reference.