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Lizzo’s ‘Big Grrl’ Asks Big Questions

Lizzo's 'Big Grrl' Asks Big Questions

Lizzo would have instead hired her dancers through just one agency. But, as she says in the first episode of her new show that premiered on Amazon Prime Video last month, “girls who look like me don’t get represented.”

She is talking about “representation” in the professional sense. But broader questions of representation loomed large over “Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Girls.” The eight-episode show follows a group of aspiring plus-size dancers who recently gave Lizzo a chance to back up on stage and possibly join their tour as one of their “Big Grrl” dancers. Have become.

Lizzo tells the dancers that she will send them home if they don’t rise to the occasion – or she can’t. In some episodes, she tells them that they can all get together to stay.

“The No. 1 thing is I didn’t want to finish every week,” Lizzo said in a Zoom interview.

“I’m looking for dancers, not dancers,” she said, emphasizing the plural. If he eliminated one woman every week, he said, he would have none until the end.

A reality TV contest that doesn’t cut contestants can seem like a contradiction. But in Lizzo’s career there have always been surprising and somewhat contradictory combinations. She regularly appears naked and is called “brave” for this. She emphasizes the inherent value of a fat body and Has launched a shapewear line, She twists and she plays the flute.

“I don’t have to fit into the fanatics I’ve made before, like Tyra Banks or Puff Daddy,” Lizzo said. “He did it his way, and that’s what I’m doing.” Lizzo’s personality as a TV presenter is part demanding queen, part nurturing mentor. Several times throughout the show, she gives the camera a one-liner, holds it for a few seconds and then bursts into laughter.

Lizzo’s warmer and more supportive moments are tempered by her choreographer Tanisha Scott, who brings tough love and hard work to her rehearsals.

“I am able to speak to him from my personal experience, don’t give up and don’t feel sorry for myself in any way,” Ms Scott said in a Zoom interview. Ms Scott began her career as an untrained dancer with a body above average and has emerged as a rare success in her industry. She said she had to work 10 times harder than other dancers to get to where she is.

“So I wasn’t going to be sweet and easy and go ‘this is a bunch of roses’ and ‘we’ve all got this,'” she said. “No. You have to work for it.”

Ms. Scott credits Lizzo with opening the door to greater commercial viability of larger dancers. “She’s not making it a trend or a novelty, she’s making it a business,” she said.

One of the unique elements of Lizzo’s show is how seriously it takes both the brilliance and struggles of its ambitious “Big Girls”. Every episode features athletic feats performed by above-average bodies, most notably including jaw-dropping acrobatics by one of the contestants, Jayla Sullivan. But the show doesn’t shy away from the dancers’ issues with injuries, insecurities, and the occasional foodie.

Tonight, the show resides somewhere between body positivity — a concept that has fully permeated some corners of marketing — and body neutrality, A new idea that encourages people to accept and respect their bodies. The entertainment and dance industries are also in a moment of change in their attitude towards big bodies.

Neneka Onurah, who directed the show and appeared in an episode, said, “There is a movement of plus-size women coming to the fore as stars as lead roles.” “This show is just the tip of the iceberg on that.”

Lizzo said she’s seen a change on a “professional level, where older girls are being welcomed into the casting room.” “I’d also hear things like, ‘Oh, we need a Lizzo type,’ which is really inspiring,” she said.

Still, Lizzo said there are still very few casting opportunities for big dancers. “I’ve seen older girls in music videos are almost taken as a joke, not taken seriously,” she said. “So I guess it hasn’t infiltrated the actual dance industry.”

Jessica Judd, who runs an organization in the Bay Area, called big moves Which is focused on making dance accessible to people of all sizes, agrees. His group worked with choreographers in the mainstream dance world for years, until they became disillusioned with a pattern of fat-fearing comments and empty words around body diversity.

“They know full well what to say – they know full well what they probably shouldn’t say” Loudly That they only want a size 4 or less,” said Ms. Judd, “but then you see who gets put in.”

She recalled the comments people had made about plus-size dancers being “brave” for coming on stage (“It’s not the compliment you think it is,” she said) and that feeling That mainstream producers or choreographers were working with them to check a diversity box, then going back to their uniformed casts.

“I don’t want to be a permanent prop to the mainstream dance world, which is trying to address issues around obesity and the body,” said Ms. Judd.

For Ms. Judd, Lizzo’s show is a huge win for representation, but it doesn’t necessarily portend anything for the wider dance world, where she’s paid a lot of lip service to body positivity, but little else. Significant changes have been made.

“At the end of the day,” she said, “a lot of presenters, directors, producers and choreographers don’t necessarily invest in having fat people in their organization.”

Lizzo agrees that getting older dancers to be taken seriously and treated well in the dance industry goes a long way. During this, she concentrates on her work.

“I just want people to know that this is an incredible television show,” she said, breaking down a list of crew members she worked with.

“I’m just fat,” she said. “And I’m just making a show about what I want.”

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– Article Written By @ from https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/06/style/lizzo-big-grrrls-amazon.html

Drashti Jain