The Trim Man
I. The Newlyfed Game
II. Sweatshop (Fatdanz)
III. It’s Not Easy Being Lean
Choreography, Michael Hennessey
Instrumentation: Violin, Viola, Cello, Mime, Actor or Dancer
The Trim Man is the story of one man’s struggle to become—and remain thin.
Mimes and dancers frequently use improvised music in their performances or music not specifically written for their choreography. In this work, the composer and mime collaborated to create the piece. To make the collaboration work, each had to understand how to create in the other’s medium.
When a mime or dancer chooses already-composed music to use in a choreography, he will isolate a section that seems to fit the idea and repeat it over and over throughout the routine. This musical repetition provides foundation for the variety of motion performed over it. Music for each movement The Trim Man is composed in building blocks that can be repeated in any order, any number of times and at several different tempos depending on the choreography used. The entire piece is a giant ABA form—not necessarily in terms of notes, but in action.
The music is easy to understand and fun to listen to and appeals to a wide range of audiences, not only those interested in new music. The careful listener will hear quotes from the theme from The Twilight Zone, the Eurythmics, and a Mozart piano sonata.
The scene opens with a very fat man turning on the TV and eating a large snack. He crosses from the TV set to the fridge several times. Each time he gets a larger snack—his walking and other movements become increasingly heavy. Eventually, he tries to rise from his chair and does so with great difficulty. He gets dressed in too-small clothes, at the end of the first movement, all his buttons pop off.
Between the first and second movements, he goes to the phone and describes his problem to the person on the other end. He leaves the house and opens a door (which leads to the second movement).
The portly hero has signed up for aerobic dance classes. At first, he dances awkwardly, but later, he becomes very good at the movements. By the end of the second movement, he is very thin, svelt, and smug.
Between the second and third movements, he shakes hands with the aerobics teacher and gives him lots and lots of money. He leaves the dance studio and goes to a posh party.
The third movement shows the trim man at the party. He shows off his new figure and at first, refuses all the goodies offered to him. He dances with a partner and sneaks treats during the dips and turns. The buffet table proves too much for him; he eats himself fat again.