Confrontation. Exuberance. Triumph.




Performance (11-21 Mar): Dance

The Malthouse. Kate Champion. Kelli Jean Drinkwater. Ghenoa Gela.

From the Malthouse:

In her final work as Force Majeure’s Artistic Director, Kate Champion collaborates with artist and fat activist Kelli Jean Drinkwater and choreographer Ghenoa Gela to celebrate the sculptural splendour of the fat dancing body. Unseen, unexpected and unapologetic, this new work abandons stereotypes and / reshapes expectations.

If you have a chance to drop in on the Malthouse before the 21st of Mar, Nothing To Lose is a show to be reckoned with, admired and wondered at – this is assuming this show hasn’t sold out by the time you get around to buying tickets. There was a standing ovation at the end of the performance I attended and it would not be surprising to find that Nothing To Lose becomes a Melbourne theatre-goers’ favourite of the year.

This fascinating piece of dance employs self-identified ‘fat’ dancers in a series of loosely linked vignette pieces that weave a thread. The work starts with what seems to be a questioning of the audience’s very reason for attending. A sort of: “So here you are to look at us, get a good look then”, passage of angry, knowing glances and grabs at flesh. There is an exploration of the feeling of always being on exhibition, a heart-wrenching three-part dwelling on the ways in which other people seem to feel they own a right to comment on a person’s body if that body doesn’t meet expectations, and finally, a series of joyful, personal visions of sexuality, power and I think also hope.

Campion and Gela have clearly worked closely with their dancers to bring out the personal, deeply felt movements that capture an individual dancer’s own idea of ugliness, or the power of a big body, or straight-out beauty and sexiness.

I will not take away from your discovery of the finale vignette by detailing it too much – but the final flourish did take me by surprise with its mingling of sheer power of numbers and wonderful joyful individuality. This is a journey through angst, ethical judgment (both from the dancer’s own lives and a subtle, quiet judgement of the audience) and finally triumphant, glorious power. A mesmerising, potent and exhilarating performance. This is among the best works of the dancer-maker’s art I have seen.


About Christopher Johnstone

Christopher Johnstone lives in Melbourne
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