Fatty Legs is set in Canada’s far north and is the true story of Olemaun Pokiak who dreamed of learning to read. But when she arrived at Residential School she was given the name Margaret, had her long braids cut off, and was made to wear itchy red wool socks as an example of her “unworthiness.” Treated cruelly by classmates and teachers, Margaret devised a plan to ensure the red stockings wouldn’t cause her any more humiliation.
This show is a collaborative creation between an Inuit author, an Anishinaabe dancer, and a mainly non-Indigenous choral ensemble that combines ethereal singing, engaging narration, and contemporary Indigenous dance. It is a profound yet accessible story that brings to light the suffering caused by residential schools while celebrating the deep strength of a child who refused to be broken by her experiences.
Fatty Legs began in 2011 when we were invited by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada to create a piece for their Atlantic National Event, taking place in Halifax, and premiered to an audience of residential school survivors. Since then, we have re-arranged and developed the production in collaboration with Sarain Carson-Fox, who has danced the role of Margaret in every production. The voice of Margaret has previously been played by Lisa Nasson, a Mi’kmaq actress and artist, and Rebecca Thomas, a Mi’kmaq poet and activist.
The show is an adaptation of the book Fatty Legs by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak Fenton with illustrations by Liz Amini-Holmes and published by Annick Press. It has been performed over 100 times across Canada, and will be presented on the international stage at the World Symposium on Choral Music in Auckland, New Zealand in July 2020.
“ The 22 young women of Xara provide haunting choral music and intricate choreography to create Margaret's world.” -Kate Watson
Read about the original 2011 production HERE.