Before burlesque, Trixie founded Fluid Movement; a non-profit performance troupe in Baltimore that stages synchronized swimming and roller skating shows in public parks. Obsessed with quirkiness and eccentricity, Trixie was on a mission to take the underdog to the mainstream without compromising any of the weirdness. It can’t be overstated what an important incubator the city of Baltimore was for her, a city that embraced John Waters as its patron saint, has a huge art school and in the late 90s-00s was a post-industrial wasteland of unused warehouses and skeezy public parks; every other neighborhood was a ghetto and syphilis and crack were still serious epidemics. Baltimore was a working class, drug-addled underdog city where individuality thrived. You could be as weird as you wanted to be and people accepted you. To her, fresh out of college, this was a land of opportunity!
Trixie studied painting and drawing in a college. On an art history trip to Florence, she remembers having an epiphany that changed her life; “I suddenly understood how art and community couldn’t and shouldn’t be separated. That it was the job of the artist to translate their meaning to the viewer, whereas contemporary art acted like it was up to the viewer to ‘get it.’ I felt the whole lens was skewed, that art should be way more accessible to people than it could be hanging on a gallery wall in some ivory tower. I wanted my art in people’s face, to burst their personal bubble and be lived with. So, I started painting murals and staging performances.” She got to work immediately.
After college, Trixie organized a feminist reading group that met weekly. The group was made of female artists and they talked about how to take their idealistic views into reality, wanting to change expectations of beauty, sexuality and inclusion but from the inside, in a way that was fun and participatory. During this time, Trixie had the idea to make Busby Berkley style synchronized swimming performance with mixed body types and genders, to bring diverse people together in an unexpected setting to share a bonding experience. She wanted the first one to be based on archetypal symbolism and represent the major cycles of life- birth, love, work, play, death, rebirth. Trixie had never staged a show before and enlisted the help of the Creative Alliance to help her work with the park department. It took a year of planning to pull it off and in that year, she also created “Carmen- the Hot Dog Opera” under the name Fluid Movement and performed it at Artscape and the 14 Karat Cabaret. In 1999, the water ballet, Water Shorts! finally premiered in Patterson Park Pool to enthusiastic audiences, over one weekend. While Trixie was a fountain of ideas and ambition, she couldn’t count to music and had never made a dance show before! Luckily she met Valarie Perez Schere who had loads of theater training and a passion for neighborhood revitalization, and Melissa Martens, a dancer, choreographer and museum curator; who were the missing links to helping make Fluid Movement float.
The initial ideas for Fluid Movement were to build collaboration into every aspect, to minimize hierarchical structures within the group and to transform Baltimore resident’s relationship to “dangerous” public spaces, to intentionally cast mixed body types and genders and to make classical themes accessible through humor and creativity. After 4 non-stop years of summer swim shows, fall rollerskating shows and a spring offering, the group was burnt out. They took off for a year to build up the foundation of the organization, recruit and active board of directors, and to establish the group as a non-profit. In year 5-6, Trixie received a prestigious Open Society Institute grant which gave $52,000 of unrestricted funds for her to take Fluid Movement’s mission into new communities and to create a solid infrastructure for the organization to remain strong independent of Trixie’s presence. She believed the sign of a healthy organization would be if it could survive without its founder. She was able to create a system of on-going mentorship of new directors within a practical, symbiotic and collaborative organizational philosophy. Trixie left Fluid Movement to pursue burlesque full time in 2007 and the organization is still going strong today. If you’re ever in Baltimore at the end of July - beginning of August, don’t miss their annual water ballet!
Here is a story NPR’s Weekend Edition did on Fluid Movement’s 2nd water ballet, “Cleopatra: Life on the Nile” which was conceived and directed by Trixie, all staged in Baltimore’s Patterson Park.
Below is a list of the shows Trixie created during those years
1998 Carmen- The Hot Dog Opera
1999 Water Shorts Director, Performer
1999 Poe on Wheels- Masque of the Red Death Costume/Set, Performer
2000 Cleopatra: Life on the Nile Director, Performer
2000 Frankenstein on Wheels Costumes, Performer (Bride of Frankenstein)
2001 Hoe Down in Hades Costumes, Performer (Delaware Art Museum commission)
2001 Cirque de L’Amour Director, Performer
2001 Nessie on Wheels Costumes, Performer
2002 1001 Freudian Nights Assistant Producer
2003 Go-Go Pirate Show Director, Performer (staged on the historic USS Constellation)
2004 BUGS Circus Director (with Living Classrooms Foundation)
2004 Earth, Wind and the Baltimore Fire Assistant Producer
2005 Postcards from the Deep End: The Flurry Family Vacation Producer, Performer
2006 It’s A Wonderful Species Producer, Performer