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Claire Burrows (Scarlett)

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Ally Garrett

For Nothing to Lose, the choreographer Kate Champion of Australian Dance company Force Majeure teamed up with the artist and fat activist Kelli Jean Drinkwater to create a dance piece featuring an entire cast of performers of size.

For this final show leading up to her retirement from the company, Champion was inspired by real-life bodies as opposed to those of professional dancers. At dance parties and venues, her attention was pulled to the larger bodies in the group, discovering power and rhythm in their movements. She contacted Drinkwater, who has worked in body politics for years, after watching a documentary the latter had created. The intention was to explore bodies of size from the perspective of those who had lived the experience of having one, not as an outsider looking in.

The photographer Toby Burrows, who knew Champion previously, was immediately drawn to the idea of shooting press images for the performance. Gaining the confidence and trust of the performers was challenging at times, but after he made his motivations known, an initially hesitant Drinkwater welcomed him aboard. Shooting the dancers against a minimal concrete wall, he frames them as statues ascending into flight.

Despite the politics of Nothing to Lose, Burrows admits that his photographs aren’t necessarily meant to make a social statement. Very simply, they are a testament to the beauty of each body.  “It was  about capturing a unique and unexpected series of images that creates an interest and discussion,” the photographer writes. “Isn’t this the purpose of art?”

Nothing to Lose will show in Melbourne from March 11-21 at Malthouse Theater.

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Claire Burrows (Scarlett)

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Michael Cutrupi

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Ally Garrett

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Kelli Jean Drinkwater

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Michael Cutrupi

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Kelli Jean Drinkwater

All images © Toby Burrows

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