Ophelia is not Dead

This Ophelia is not Dead is a fat girl cabaret.


Ophelia is not Dead is a project by the international collection Embassy of. We proposed to one another to each make pieces by this name, which can or cannot relate to the title’s meaning, but that are otherwise unconnected artworks. There are at least eight Ophelias in circulation. Therefore, though this work is a solo, it represents and is included in a wider domain of artistic work in the field of dance and performance worldwide.

This Ophelia is not Dead is a fat girl cabaret.

In cabaret performances (thinking of burlesque or drag, as examples), the artist overstates an element of their identity, existing or not, to the point at which the audience must question their own relation to this identity and body. The re-iterations become so obvious that they can no longer be thought about, making space for something else to happen. This is the mechanism I employ in this work, in a proposition to make fatness watchable.

I tell ‘Yo’ momma’s so fat’ jokes.

I play with the fat flesh of my frame.

I dance to a song called “Look How She Fat”, and another called “Fat Gal”.

The show ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings, so I sing.

But I also dance, I dance everything I can, the most I can do, I try to give maximum opportunity for the audience to watch this other body – a body that is always special, but even more special in the athlete-dripping world of contemporary dance – in motion. How is it different? What does it do? What happens when it moves?

Choreographer and performer Gillie Kleiman
Mentor Stacy Makishi
Photos by Zuzanna Brzozowska

"Kleiman also plays with the joys of structural balancing – interrupting and splicing her own ‘fat girl cabaret' so that it's more than just the series of dance numbers it claims to be. When we expect show business she does fat wobbling. When we expect fat wobbling she does sexy. Surprises and all, it is neat cabaret entertainment. She delivers the lame alongside the glorious as if they were made for each other. Tampon jokes drift as if on fumes of Earl Grey and anti-climatic anecdotes are positioned into the splits. I can't decide whether she makes these things look normal or whether she looks normal alongside them. Either way, my eyes are on her and they are refusing to blink."

Eleanor Sikorski for Resolution! Review


Bellyflop Magazine



First in Three at Northern Stage, Newcastle, December 2008
platform00000008 at Star and Shadow Cinema, Newcastle, December 2008
Teatr Nowy, Łódź, Poland, August 2009
REX, Belgrade, October 2009
BLOP at Arnolfini, Bristol, March 2010
Embassy of 4 days and 3 nights, Toihaus, Salzburg, Austria, April 2010
Public Announcement at Dance City, Newcastle, May 2010
Fresh AiR at QMU, London, June 2010
Resolution! at The Place, London, January 2011
WHAT NOW at Siobhan Davies Studios, London, April 2011
Springboard, Corby Cube (presented by Dance4), July 2011
Chelsea Theatre, London, November 2011
GIFT, Gateshead, April 2012
Summer Dancing Festival, Coventry, June 2012
HaZira, Jerusalem, Israel, July 2012
JoJo Festival, Oulu, Finland, September 2012
Dance Diary at Roehampton University, London, November 2012
Anseo, Dublin, May 2013
Private home, Nottingham (presented by Dance4), November 2013
TripSpace, London (presented by BELLYFLOP Magazine), February 2014