Fatties in Philly! Big Moves presents "Big Top"

Photo by David J. Anderson

I had the great pleasure of attending the Boston premiere this weekend of Big Moves' spring revue, "Big Top" and was absolutely wowed. Its certainly Big Moves' most ambitious revue show ever and it did not disappoint.

As the title suggests, the show is circus themed, but defies expectations on that count. No clowns and no sideshows. Rather, it draws upon a 1920's aesthetic, hearkening back to when circuses were an exploration of the exotic. It seems a fitting backdrop for presenting a show for fat dancers, something as exotic today as the animal menageries and foreign cultures would have been in the 1920's. Big Moves went all-out with this theme with elaborate costumes and set direction creative a vibrant entertainment.

Unlike past Big Moves' revue shows, there is actually a story here, though it is told entirely through pantomime segments that are wonderful portrayed by the cast. Some of the pieces were clearly very challenging to choreograph but the result was a very rewarding artistic expression. The characters introduced in the pantomime segments given the show a base that lends the dance elements more power as pieces of a larger whole. Though there are some leads (a pair of young lovers; seasoned chorus girls) all of the dancers lend some personality to their characters creating a very fully realized show. In addition to a full compliment of jazz dance numbers performed by the circus' chorus girls, Big Top also boasts aerial dance sequences using fabric trapeze of sorts, a choreographed animal exhibition, and several appearances by Big Moves' stable of belly dancers.

Building off the exotic adventure of the 1920's circus, each belly dance routine had a different cultural basis. The first was an elaborate fan dance of sorts where the dance is portrayed as an Egyptian goddess with a cape of giant gold wings. Later, we see a French theme as the dancer melds the traditions of belly dancing and mime in a surprisingly cohesive manner. This all culminates in a Bollywood style mash-up where the belly dancers share the stage with hip-hop dancers in one of the highlights of the production.

The show is kid-friendly and less overtly political than Big Moves' scripted shows like Lard which will be featured at this year's Montreal Fringe Festival. Big Top is a great way to introduce people to the idea of fat dance and I can't recommend it enough. Its finished its Boston run, but will be putting on two shows in Philadelphia this coming Saturday, April 26. There is a 2pm matinée and an 8pm evening show at the Rotunda in Philly. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Kids 12 and under can get $5 tickets. I cannot recommend this enough and if you can get to Philadelphia for one (or both!) of the shows, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

I'd also be remiss if I didn't point out that my wonderful girlfriend Cristin is one of the chorus girls. She and all of the dancers have been working very hard putting this show together and its really a great success. My thanks to all of them and their director Marina Wolf Ahmed for a great production. I hope you'll have a chance to see it, too.

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