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    2017-2018 reviews:


    Dixie Fun

    Beyond Beauty

    Dixie FunLee Shulman's creative wit and talent shine in "The Thinnest Woman with the Fewest Wrinkles Wins", a culturally poignant tour de force about female body issues in the 21st century.


    Dance, like theater, sometimes uses a combination of confrontation, humor and skill to create a transcendent experience that leaves the audience feeling more human and more connected. Dixie Fun Dance Theatre accomplished this at their Joyce Soho concert while addressing the topic of being a woman in a way that made both men and women see a little further.

    Choreography by: Dixie FunLee Shulman.
    Directed by: Dixie FunLee Shulman.
    Dancers: Jessica Bonenfant, Marsi Burns, Dana Cohen, M.D., Beth Anne Cole, Amber Corriston, Susan Gregory, Kelly Hayes, Priscilla Hernandez, Macushia Hill, Alice Klugherz, Dana Kotler, Carrie Malernee, Briana Masson, Johari Mayfield, Evelyn Mendez, Joan Eileen Murray, Nicole Poirier, Lisa M. Potter, Stacey Royce, Toni Silver, Cheryl L. Sutton, Kristina J. Walton, Katy Woitel.

    Related links: Official site
    Joyce SoHo
    155 Mercer (btw. Houston and Prince)
    July 24-27, 2003

    "Beauty Pageant No. 1", the first of three beautiful anti-pageants, came onstage swinging for blood, with well-named MC Velveeta providing commentary. Every contestant was named Candy, in the way men sometimes use "Betty" to strip women of name and humanity. Each Candy represented a particular state of dysfunction, fad or blight, from Candy Hoover promoting liposuction to Candy Knockers enthusing about breast implants. Eating disorders, high heels and cosmetics dependency were represented as well, for a total of eight Candies. This piece was relentlessly over the top, an ice breaker and a ball breaker, with the audience stuck between cringing and laughing. Captivatingly bold, the audience was locked in rapt attention every second, with layers of costuming, props, music and a beauty-contestants-in-the-big-city video that by itself was a clever and well-crafted work of art.

    "Who's the Fairest of Them All" was a disturbing little piece of mother/daughter love and the damage suffered with the introduction of cultural "beauty" education. There is nothing subtle about Dixie Fun Dance Theatre as when, for example, a hissing, mirror-wielding mother chases her formerly self-satisfied pubescent daughter around the stage with a full-length mirror. Heavy-handed, but never far from a clever lyric or hilarious commentary. A pornographic Barbie and Ken bit was especially deft.

    Dixie Fun  
    "MTV Sex Goddess", the only pure dance piece in the show, gave the audience a partial break from confrontational humor before intermission. This was a really intriguing piece, because it took the same performers from the scary "Beauty Pageant No. 1" and transformed them into hard-body, bump-and-grinding MTV Dance Party babes. Of course, this was not just titillating, aggressive dance but another topic of culturally warped femininity to address. These MTV Sex Goddesses, however, did not have a limitless supply of erotic energy to keep the rolling cameras fed. Nope, these dancers got run down and worn out and almost completely drained of life and soul in the process of feeding the male fantasy of 'dancing girls' as deadpan, emotionless sex machines.

    In a totally candid side note, something from all this tripped a switch in this reviewer's head. I spent intermission "seeing" every single female member of the audience as a unique, multifaceted person of the other sex rather than as some sort of quantifiable product to be admired or not; a moving and rare moment of clarity.

    "Beauty Pageant No. 2" certainly reinforced this feeling, as a group of ten women who, by most standards of our culture could be considered undesirably heavy, introduced themselves by their best feature or most flattering description, as in "great smile", "really smart", "tough cookie", "talented" and "bootylicious". Women in this contest took turns narrating bits of their life experience, often painful moments relating to body image or body weight, delivered without self-pity and presented matter-of-factly. Simply hearing some of the incredibly cold words and actions directed to these women, usually by men, served as more fresh water to the face, bringing the audience closer to being awake and reinforcing a sense of human connectedness.

    After a quirky little piece about painted fingernails, also accompanied by a video, "Beauty Pageant No. 3" further cleared the cultural fog, jumping into age and sexuality issues and showing that if nothing else, aging distills a woman's core and often liberates her. A highlight of this piece was the unexpectedly strong and gorgeous voice of Susan Gregory as she burst into a Greek women's harvest song.

    Then, in a poignant nude solo, the undeniably not-your-American-feminine-ideal-stereotype Dixie FunLee Shulman herself mixed humor and movement skill to push the audience further down the path of female enlightenment. By the end of her solo, neither her nakedness nor her heaviness were uncomfortable, a really impressive feat of performing.

    "Final Pageant" wrapped the show up wonderfully with every performer onstage. The initial impression of this piece WAS that of a fashion show, with every woman strutting onstage looking equally amazing. The whole group then danced together, often in unison, and finished in a square dance circle of togetherness.

    AUGUST 1, 2003

    Reader comments on Dixie Fun:

  • Well done   from Lisa, Aug 11, 2003
  • [no subject]   from Mary Cutrera, Aug 20, 2003
  • ur pic   from Brittney Spears, Feb 17, 2006

  • Post a comment on "Dixie Fun"