Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Scene:: Cabaret Unkempt

In Cabaret Unkempt, image is everything. Work explores how the body of a 'woman of size' is accepted and rejected

The Houston Chronicle

As a self-described "woman of size" with a background in dance and theater, Jennylin Duany knows how much size matters.While the Miami-based Duany, 39, spent 10 years in a dance company that utilized her to an aesthetic advantage, she found the established theater world less hospitable. So she gravitated toward experimental theater, which, she says, is less concerned with stereotypical images of weight and beauty."I didn't always want to be the big gospel singer," Duany says. "Why can't my character ever fall in love? Fat people fall in love, too."

Duany will incorporate a mixture of movement, music, theater and visual arts when she explores how body image is linked to self-worth in Cabaret Unkempt, which she'll present Friday-Saturday at DiverseWorks.Duany spent the past year developing the piece as part of DiverseWorks' creative arts residency. Her Afro-Cuban heritage proved a good starting place in her study about being a large person in a culture that values smallness. "Cubans are remarkably direct. I went to Cuba to meet my relatives as part of my research, and one of them said to me, 'Wow, you are fat!' " Duany recalls. "They don't have the same trauma over political correctness. "

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