Beauty

by Jane Comfort

NY

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Jane Comfort and Company is seeking your support over the next 47 days to raise $7,000 toward the first performances of Beauty at the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival June 29 - July 3, 2011.  Beauty is a dance/theater work exploring the American notion of female beauty through the lens of Barbie.  Jane Comfort received a 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship for the creation of Beauty, but this award meets only a portion of the budget to create the work. Your contribution will go directly to the dancers for rehearsal and performance salaries.

 Why Barbie?  As the thousands of images of models and celebrities that are projected onto the cultural landscape daily attest, we have collectively moved toward Barbie as our beauty model:  a hyper thin body with huge breasts (Barbie's vital statistics have been estimated at 37, 18, 33.  At 5'9" tall and weighing 110 lbs, Barbie would have a BMI of 16.24 and fit the weight criteria for anorexia) and a generic all American white look, with only a few “ethnic” Barbies cropping up from time to time.

 No one can actually look this way naturally, but through Photoshop, the women seen in ads and magazines are all magically thin and flawless.   It is amazing that in the third wave of feminism we would accept this Photoshopped beauty as valid, but we do; and as we do, we are left with a dilemma:  how can we ordinary mortals look like that?

 Women and girls today engage in obsessive dieting and eating disorders, exhaustive exercise regimens as well as Botox, lip plumping collagen treatments, wrinkle filling Restalyne, skin beaching, chemical peels, laser skin resurfacing, teeth whitening, hair extensions, highlights, body waxing (brow, upper lip, armpit, belly, legs, and of course, bikini), eye liner tattoos, eyelash extensions, mani/pedis, tanning booths, ear pinning, liposuction, and the extensive plastic surgeries available, including labiaplasty for a “prettier” vagina.

 We wear heels we can’t walk in, jeans we can’t breathe in, Spanx undergarments to further suck it in, push up bras, and tight little tops.

 As Barbie was based on a German sex doll, Bild Lilli, is it any wonder that American women and girls are pushed to a more and more sexualized standard of beauty?  Eight year olds are being offered practice Brazilian pubic waxes, a bikini bathing suit with a padded bra recently hit the market for seven year olds, and a major American retailer has introduced thongs to the eight to ten year old market.

 The movement vocabulary of Beauty will toggle between Barbie’s limited robotic abilities (she and Ken get intimate as best as their stick-like limbs allow) and the rounded, weighted, full bodied movement of dancers.  There will be a beauty contest with random members of the audience acting as judges.  During the course of the evening, we will get to know the performers as Barbies, as contestants, as characters with beauty aspirations, and as the dancers behind all these personas.

 Beauty will be performed by 6 dancers and actors, with costume design by Liz Prince, sound composition by Brandon Wolcott, lighting design by David Ferri, and dramaturgy by Anne Davison.

 We hope you will join us in creating this work!  If you would like more information about this project, please post a comment or send us an email at jane@janecomfortancompany.org.  Thank you for supporting the arts.

 

 Portions of the video were filmed at New 42nd Street Studios.

 

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    • May 25, 2011 Becky Hilstad Community Member

      Good luck, Jane and Company! Behind you all the way! Becky