Fat Chance

Dixie FunLee Shulman challenges our “Thin is in” mindset.

In 1994, just before getting her master’s degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder, Dixie FunLee Shulman performed her thesis concert, titled “The Thinnest Woman With the Fewest Wrinkles Wins,” in Boulder. It was a 25-woman show whose participants included members of the community — all of whom had to be at least a size twelve or fifty years old. Over the years, as a choreographer in Seattle and later New York, Shulman continued to perform the program, and a few years ago, she adapted it to a one-woman performance.

Described as an “activist dance performance spectacle that includes a beauty pageant, baton-twirling and inappropriate body hair” the show is rooted in Shulman’s experience of being kicked off the University of Georgia majorette squad for being too fat. “I continue to do it because the subject matter is still of interest,” she says. “In ’94, there was no such thing as Botox. In a way, we’re only getting worse.”

Shulman says it feels like coming full circle to bring the show — now called simply The Thinnest Woman Wins — back to Boulder. It ends with “Nude Solo #73,” in which she dances naked and talks about her forty-year-old size-sixteen body, complete with saddlebags and cellulite. She once met a woman who said she saw the performance four years prior and still thought about that solo once a week. “That’s the impact I like,” says Shulman. “Was this woman 100 percent satisfied with her body? No. But at least when having some derogatory thought about herself, she had something she can also reference. I hope people leave the theater feeling a little bit better about themselves and having laughed about the whole situation.”

Catch Shulman’s act, part of the Boulder International Fringe Festival, at 7:30 p.m. tonight and tomorrow at the Naropa University Performing Arts Center, 2130 Arapahoe Avenue in Boulder; additional dates are scheduled through Thursday, August 21. For information and tickets — $15, $10 for students and seniors — go to www.boulderfringe.com or www.dixiefundance.com.
Fri., Aug. 15, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 16, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 17, 6 p.m.; Mon., Aug. 18, 7:30 p.m.; Tue., Aug. 19, 7:30 p.m.; Wed., Aug. 20, 9 p.m., 2008

 
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