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|Written by Emily Goodacre|
|Thursday, 10 March 2011 23:03|
March 8th, 2011, marked the 100th annual International Women's Day. Thousands of events were held around the world to celebrate and inspire women and their achievements. Coincidentally, this year Mardi Gras also happened to fall on March 8th, prompting the question: what would a feminist Mardi Gras look like? It may look like the Shattered Ceiling Cabaret, which showcased raunchy comedy, music, dance, and even a striptease! The event was held at Ottawa's Mayfair Theatre, presented by JH5 Promotions, and raised money for Immigrant Women Services Ottawa.
The evening was hosted by Ottawa's own Martha Chaves, appearing in a t-shirt printed with 'VAGAINISTA' and welcoming the crowd to "this huge estrogen festival" before launching into her comedy act about being a woman, a lesbian, and an immigrant in Canada. The only female finalist of the 2010 Great Canadian laugh-off, Chaves relies on her Nicaraguan accent to carry half of the jokes for her, but she worked the crowd brilliantly.
The audience was treated to dance performances by Bollywood For Fun, Ottawa's Bollywood fusion dance troupe (bouncing and whirling to a song very dear to my heart), and Jaime Koebel, demonstrating traditional Métis dances alongside her adorable twin daughters, punctuated by very charming filmed vignettes by local comedian Nick Carter. There was also powerful recitation of poetry by spoken word artist Festrell and a display by a member of Rockalily, a sex-positive and LGBT-friendly burlesque troupe based in Ottawa. I must admit I found her dance a bit lacklustre until the nipple tassels began spinning. That's just impressive.
Alas, not all of the performers were so successful. Chelsea O'Connor's musical performance briefly sucked all of the energy out of the room. While talented, O'Connor's plaintive Lilith Fair-style songs felt out of place in the light-hearted atmosphere created by the more upbeat participants. I found myself wishing she had added in some of her stand-up material to lighten the mood.
But the evening was more than saved by the comedy act of headliner Kate Davis, five-time nominee at the Canadian Comedy Awards. "It's just great when women support women", Davis said of the event "and to have a day like this", further indicating that a month would be more appropriate. Davis specializes in comedy about her family, joking about, for example, her excessively private teenaged son's room: "is he building a bomb in there? Out of Kleenex? And why are we out of conditioner?" The crowd loved Davis, who praised the "broad spectrum of talent" on display.
Event organizer Jennifer Hayward said of the evening "we raised some money and had some fun tonight". She added that she was very proud to support Immigrant Women Services Ottawa, an organization dedicated to empowering vulnerable immigrant and refugee women, and offering services such as crisis intervention, counselling and housing support.
2011's theme for International Women's Day is 'A Pathway to Decent Work for Women'. Judging by the panorama of women's talent in the performing arts on display last night, I am impressed at how far we have come in this field and excited to see what the future brings from such creative women as these.
Kate Davis will be performing Friday and Saturday at Yuk Yuk's in Ottawa. See www.yukyuks.com for details.