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Sunday, September 24, 2023


Artist tackles body image in ‘Cabaret’

What does it mean to be unkempt? One could define the word using synonyms such as sloppy or messy, unpolished or even rude. The word could also be used to describe something disorderly or carelessly maintained.

What is the prototype for a cabaret in the mind? It could bring images of dancing, bodies, laughing, alcohol and even more important and telling, live entertainment.

Justly, all these things should and will come to mind as Miami-native Jennylin Duany, last year’s DiverseWorks Developmental Residency recipient, must have intended to engage her audience in Cabaret Unkempt. The purposefully racy, innovative and theatrical performance piece is showing for two nights in Houston this weekend.

"How dare you assume I’d rather be thin," Duany says proudly from the stage.

"Why does my size necessitate political correctness?" she asks. "When does political correctness cease to serve me?"

Duany, alone in the performance with the exception of silently present co-star Elizabeth Doud, boldly juxtaposes her physical form and socially constructed ideas of stereotypical beauty in a challenging and self-deprecating manner.

"In this piece, I pay homage to the ‘excess’ parts of me that have been there for such a long time," she said.

Duany powerfully combines the use of voice aesthetics, abstract symbolism, original music by Ricardo Lastre, poetry and movement, as well as projected images created in collaboration with filmmaker Dinorah Rodriguez to dynamically take one on an autobiographical journey of the body through an image-driven, supermodel-thin focused industry.

"One of my passions, as a performer, is the moment when theater, movement, media objects, life forms fuse into one medium and traditional divisions of these forms are erased," Duany said.

This perspective underlies the vision behind Akropolis Interdisciplinary Theater, a South Florida theater ensemble site for producing original works that engage the audience while challenging the concepts of genre in the entertainment experience. Duany and fellow artists founded Akropolis in 1994, and Doud has been collaborating to create dance-theater with the ensemble for the last nine years. Doud is an established dancer, educator and writer, who inspires with her incorporation of contemporary, flamenco and Capoiera aspects into performance pieces.

To join in a celebration of diversifying conceptions of inner as well as outer beauty with Duany and Doud, visit DiverseWorks on Friday or Saturday at 1117 East Freeway. Tickets are $15 for the general public and $8 for students and seniors. Call (713) 335-3445 to reserve a seat, and hold onto your hat for this enlightening theatrical spectacle full of surprises where one can’t expect anything short of the unexpected.

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