[Image Description: Photo set of fat women of color. First photo is a group photo. Dancers are smiling, one is doing the splits. Next three photos are of dancers doing a routine. They wear chiffon style dresses.]
DANZA VOLUMINOSA: Cuba’s Sensational Plus-Size Dance Company
Danza Voluminosa, a dance group created in 1996 by dancer and choreographer Juan Miguel Mas, features prima ballerina Mailín Daza and seven dancers in total: six beautiful fat women and himself. They have three full-length productions under their belts as well as 30 shorter pieces. A Canadian documentary, “Defying Gravity” (2004) chronicles Juan Miguel Mas’ vision for his troupe and the obstacles they have faced.
According to Mas:
We provide a context for obese people to develop artistically, to create a language and a structure that makes them able to interact with society. But it’s not limited to fat people. We’ve worked with dancers who gained weight, retired dancers – all kinds of artists said to be ‘good for nothing’. We’ve worked with people with AIDS.
We’ve played in places for the first time where people have shouted at us, ‘look at those fat people!’ We still hear giggles sometimes, but when audiences see the sense of purpose, the work that has gone into the show, our concentration – well, there’s always huge applause at the end.