Thursday, March 30, 2023
March 30, 2023

Irreverent dance show probes body image

BY KIRSTEN BOLTON

For ArtSpring

Billed as part stand-up comedy, part Greek tragedy, part performance art and part contemporary dance, Body Parts is a virtuoso solo performance by veteran artist Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg that hits the ArtSpring stage on Saturday, Feb. 25.

Being a one-woman show is always a high-stakes challenge for a performer to pull off gracefully. Unfortunately for Friedenberg, as she attempts to perform her act, she continues to find herself terribly side-tracked by her own body issues. She questions, makes excuses, vents and theatrically recalls all-too-real stories many women can relate to about their own bodies.

The experience results in what Vancouver’s Georgia Straight called “insanely funny and imaginatively genius.”

Underneath the biting comedy, however, is Friedenberg’s exploration of a heartbreaking personal landscape of body dysmorphia, disordered eating and self-loathing. In short, negotiating our very complicated relationships with body image.

“Body image, body positivity and intuitive eating are all concepts swimming around social media, the ‘wellness’ industry, and in our minds,” says Friedenberg. “But do we feel better about ourselves? Do we feel like we can talk about the shame we experience in or around our bodies?”

Body Parts joyfully dismantles the damage inflicted by this shame. Her concept is built on the need to share our experiences and reveal the absurdity of ideas such as idolizing a “dancer body,” pursuing the perfect “bikini body” and the pressure of “getting your body back” after giving birth to a baby. 

Serving as the production’s writer, choreographer and performer, this recognized dance-theatre force and alumni of SFU also has her creative hands in the set design and costumes. Friedenberg has been artistic director of what is now known as Tara Cheyenne Performance (TCP) since 2007, whose express purpose is to encourage and grow the work of underrepresented artists, spark community engagement and “make contemporary dance more accessible to the public through physical storytelling that blends comedy, movement and text.”

Combining personal pains with insightful social commentary, the show ultimately holds out hope of transformation. An irreverent, kinetic show to kickstart the important conversation about how we can begin to take the power back, enjoy the amazing things our bodies can do, and laugh through the tears together.

The performance, which begins at 7:30 p.m., will include a post-show talkback.

The community is also welcome to participate in a free “Rough Cut” session on Wednesday, Feb. 22 from noon to 1 p.m. to preview a portion of Friedenberg’s next work in progress, Pants, which has been developed in ArtSpring’s Creative Residency Program. In this work, Friedenberg explores her own relationship to gender and invites viewers to ask questions, share experiences and give feedback. The input is a valuable part of the process to artists.

Email tickets@artspring.ca or call the box office at 250-537-2102 to sign up.

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