Blending theatre, storytelling and killer moves, spoken word artist Maria Ferguson explores her relationship with the F-word (food), with the help of her first love (dance). Questioning how we all look at size, Fat Girls Don’t Dance takes us into the world of performance – where three meals a day is up for compromise and skinny sells well.
This, her first one woman show, is an autobiographical account of her relationship with food in parallel with her development as a pretty “sick” dancer. And that should be taken for both its slang meaning of “cool”, and also its literal meaning, as the audience witnesses her battling with an eating disorder.
She’s a beautiful dancer who shows her prowess at tap dancing, ballet, contemporary, and some killer moves to a great score, which includes the Meghan Trainor song All About the Bass, a call-out to embrace inner beauty, and to promote a positive body image and self-acceptance. The words “treble” and “bass” in the song act as metaphors for the weight of women and serve as a joke about thick and thin. Ferguson has a pretty “sick” voice too.
Through supermarket aisles, drunken dance-offs, Christmas binges, nightmare auditions for MTV, being cast in an advert for overeating, and broken dreams, resorting to working in a Which? call centre, this touching piece challenges the typical aesthetic of dancers, that of ease, grace and being born into a thin body, whilst highlighting the realities of eating disorders.
She copes well with the sound bleed from the performance next door, weaving it into her dialogue with the audience. Through the performance, Ferguson takes the audience on her journey, interacting with us, interjected with lots of pregnant pauses, on some occasions too pregnant!
This is a touching, thoughtful, honest piece that for many will be completely relatable. It will leave you questioning the challenges of maintaining a positive body image and defying stereotypes that just because you’re fat (she’s not!), you can’t dance.
There’s even food, which she shares out. Think Wotsits, angel cake and lemon slices and best of all, Cadbury’s chocolate fingers. What more could you want?