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Clowning Around: Laughter Helps Cancer Survivors Cope

KEITH BROWN/STAFF WRITER STAFF
Asbury Park Press - 7/9/03

THERE'S nothing funny about cancer.
Yet breast cancer survivor Hedda Matza-Haughton credits outrageous, multicolored wigs and big, red clown noses with helping her to win her battle with the life-threatening disease.

After her diagnosis in 1989, Matza-Haughton, would often wear a joke clown nose at regular visits to her oncologists, just to break the seriousness for a minute... continue with this article


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A modern day return to The Red Tent

by Carrie Seidman of The Herald-Tribune
March 11, 2012


From book clubs to breast-feeding groups, sewing circles to coffee klatches, women have long sought a place to gather away from the interference of children, husbands or fathers.

But the original “no men allowed” feminist stronghold is centuries old.

“You talk about the first support group? This was it,” says Hedda Matza-Haughton, a social worker, theater director and actor who will perform in Fuzión Dance Artists’ sixth season concert, “The Red Tent.” “This is where young ladies became women, a sisterhood, a motherhood. The Red Tent speaks to all the times that women had experiences to get through and got the support of other women to go through them.”

For those who aren’t familiar with concept of the Red Tent, it began as a sacred gathering place for women in biblical times. Thought to have a mysterious power during their menstrual cycles and when giving birth that many men found alarming, or even threatening, women chose a segregated spot where they could find support amongst their own. Because red was a color symbolic of female strength and power in ancient cultures, that place became known as the Red Tent.

There have been Red Tent revivals, in various forms, for centuries. Fuzión’s latest interpretation can be traced back nearly a decade, to a graduation performance at Florida State University by the company’s co-founders Leymis Bolaños-Wilmott and Rachael Inman. Both of Arabic descent, at the time their research into their ethnic backgrounds and the Red Tent’s origins provided a way to unite their differing choreographic approaches.

Ever since, Bolaños-Wilmott, Fuzión’s current director, has been considering the idea of a revival concert, mulling it over with Inman, now a professor in Tennessee, who has since developed mind/body/spirit workshops based on similar empowerment concepts. With the birth of her first child three years ago, and after meeting Matze-Haughton, a two-time cancer survivor and an active participant in the ’60s feminist movement, the time seemed especially ripe.

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