FAT GIRLS DON'T DANCE / Maria Ferguson

There's some crunk dance moves happening in Maria Ferguson’s first one woman show, Fat Girls Don’t Dance, it’s an autobiographical account of her struggles with food and body image and how this has affected her dreams of becoming a professional dancer.

Stuck in a job cold calling for Which magazine Maria is day dreaming of supplying the dance floor with some sick moves. She sings "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid as if a plea for inclusion to the world of performance.

There’s more sick moves when Maria gets home but these involve vomit, as the audience witnesses her battling with her eating disorder, obsessive exercise and calorie counting. Like every thinspiration instagram post she contorts till her collar bones protrude and runs desperately as if searching for that ever elusive thigh gap, her brows knit with determination or maybe confusion as the Meghan Trainor song "All About the Bass" resounds across the stage, a positive body image and self-acceptance anthem which entreats her to embrace herself at any size.

A beloved but expensive dance class involves tap, ballet and modern but also French Fancies, Custard Creams and wotsits. Through repetition and Tourettes-like physical tics, Maria describes her auditions, which are always met with a mantra of “too fat to play pretty, too pretty to play fat.” Maria is caught in a mental and physical loop of auditions for the indistinguishable female performer’s holy trinity of Holby City, Casualty, Eastenders.

Culture Club's "Karma Chameleon" is Maria’s Bulimia musical touchstone, a song to be sung so she recognises dangerous behaviors, but also to comfort shattered dreams and the painful daily realities and challenges of bingeing and purging.

When even record breaking Olympian Simone Biles suffers body shaming, the challenges of maintaining a positive body image seem insurmountable to most women. Fat Girls Don’t Dance is a touching, brave and at times uncomfortably honest performance that entreats the audience to challenges the impossible aesthetic of professional dancers. (LO)

Fat Girls Don’t Dance is on at 14.50 at Underbelly, Cowgate (Venue 61) Hearing Loop. https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/fat-girls-don-t-dance

Stripping away negative body image | Lillian Bustle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ME-c0l8oTkY

Proof That You Can Be A Wildly Talented Dancer At Any Size http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/05/fat-girl-dancing-video-talk-dirty-to-me_n_4730408.html

Girls with anorexia turned away by NHS because they are 'not thin enough' http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/03/girls-with-anorexia-turned-away-by-nhs-because-not-thin-enough/

A resource for professionals and carers of people with eating disorders http://www.thenewmaudsleyapproach.co.uk/