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The Cendancers

by Chris Wayan, 2011-16

Introduction - Chart of all the Dancers - Bios: Barbie - Bios: Non-Barbie - Bios: Chimeras - Recipe for Centaurs - Sets - World(s)

From 2011 to 2014, I sculpted a large dance-troupe of centauroid figurines, mostly out of chopped/fused Barbie dolls. A lot of Barbie art is basically assemblage (3D collage) or just staged dioramas, but I wanted sculpture. I took a week per figure, and tried to make them unearthly, elegant...real.

Why Barbie? Why centaurs? Why dancers?

To let Barbie stand on her own. As a rolemodel or body image, Barbie's so footbound she's a pushover! Not just socially problematic--sculpturally, too. So I challenged myself to build a Barbie who CAN stand up for herself, in every sense. So I needed Barbies with more feet. Centaurs!

Why dancers? I took years of ballet, jazz and modern dance before my joints got too sore (probably from Lyme, not dance). Dance is a strange art, fusing sexuality, emotional expression and intellectual artifice, from the earthiest feelings to the most spiritual--in the same piece, occasionally in the same moment. I wanted to dance again, and choreograph my own pieces, and this was a way to do it.

Spira, a centauroid dancer. Click to enlarge.
Spira in Microgravities

Sidera in The Green Sun

Bergia Mount me Outdoors

The Seven Pillars of Cendancers
Archa, a centauroid dancer with fur dyed in harlequin diamonds; a native of Kakalea, a dry earthlike world. Sculpted from two Barbies by Wayan. Click to enlarge.
Archa of Cheirin in Dyeing for Freedom as staged on Tiao

  1. A cendancer stands free. No need for wires, stands or other props.
  2. A cendancer has a unique pose and gesture. They're active dancers caught in motion.
  3. A cendancer has a unique color/pattern. Many are rather equine, but you'll see Raccoon Barbie, Zebra Barbie, Poodle Barbie...
  4. A cendancer expresses a distinct mood; try to get beyond that generic Barbie smile
  5. A cendancer is sexy. Barbie, meant to be sold to kids, hid her fetish origins (her designer, Ruth Handler, was inspired by Lili, a sultry German fetish doll; early Barbies have Lili-like sly, sidelong glances. Very seductive. See the film Barbie Nation) Cendancers are as openly sexual as Lili. But never ONLY sexual; they're true dancers; sex is integrated into their life and art, and not taboo. Innocently erotic.
  6. Cendancer anatomy is diverse--as long as it's broadly centaurian. Digitigrade (horse, cat) vs. plantigrade (human, elephants), breast arrangement (0-8), faces (various animal-human mixes), ears, tails...
  7. A cendancer must be posable in SEVERAL stable orientations plausible as dance moves. Some may be wall poses using support, some may be floor work, but at least one should be freestanding, as per goal #1.

Barbie Biases

  1. Most Barbies smile; it's one reason I built a dance-troupe, not a therapy group or riot squad. To make Screaming Barbie, Sobbing Barbie, Whistling Barbie or Puking Barbie I'd have to sculpt the heads from scratch. Hard work! But then, what's wrong with happiness?
  2. Barbie plastic is tough. Drilling and sawing's not easy. Every centaur ended up--not by intention, I assure you--with at least a smidgen of my blood in her. Every single one. So I didn't do dare plan anything too drastic or freeform for the dolls. Really. No matter how they look.
  3. The Ken shortage. I never found a single used Ken here in San Franciscos's thrift stores! I assume gay fetish sculptors snapped them up. The troupe's lone "Kentaur" contains one Ken a friend gave me, fused with a broken, musclebound Ken knockoff (non-Mattel) from a Misson flea market.


    Ken in Red Hot Desert

    Fusing a real & bogus Ken to make a male centaur took drastic surgery, design compromise and TWC (no, not Tender Wuvving Care. Tedious Weenie Construction.)

  4. Most dolls I used were older, since they came from thrift shops, yard sales and friends. I did buy a handful new--mostly Latina Barbies, who had good hipjoints and a strong swayback that's ideal for the bend inherent in centaur anatomy, and for the raised tail that's a sure sign of centaurian sexual excitement. Because the dolls ranged so widely in age (from 1 to over 50 years--one was from 1967!) their anatomies varied shockingly. New Barbies are admittedly thin and leggy, but they're way less anatomically grotesque than older Barbies with wasp waists but quarterback shoulders and nose-cone boobs. Despite Barbie's reputation for promoting unrealistic body images, they've made slow progress--roughly reflecting the society that buys them.

  5. Barbie hair won't readily tint, so I matched colors of head and tail as closely as I could--not easy! Fuchsia, right, was inspired by a doll with magenta hair so long I could use it for both head and tail--no matching, no dye jobs. Fuchsia's only dancer I thought to photograph through all stages of construction.
  6. Fusing two Barbies into one centaur left spare heads, shoulders and arms. I cut off the hair from the uglier Barbie head (surprising variety here, from full of character to hideously insipid) and used it for tail-hair. That plethora of hair unconsciously biased me toward horse- and fox-tails; without that supply maybe I'd have tried more round cat tails, poofy rabbit tails, spiky dragon tails.

    Oh, well!


Table covered with figurines by Wayan: the All Barbie Centaur Dance Ensemble.
The All-Barbie Centaur Dance Ensemble, or ABCDE

Personal Biases

  1. I favored modern dance over ballet--I hate formality, stiffness, impersonal prettiness.
    Suplica, a centaurid dancer with zebra stripes, made of two Barbies by Wayan. Click to enlarge.
    Suplica in The Balance of Dark and Light
  2. I favored asymmetry and unusual weight distribution. Occasionally I did sacrifice the former to the latter, as in Suplica, an experiment in cantilevering; symmetricality made floating that zebra easier.
  3. I favored poses that seemed sexually inviting. I wanted to make them erotic fantasies as explicit as Lili, the Weimar German inspiration for Barbie.
  4. I favored females. I like girls not boys. Yes, there's a used Ken shortage, but I could have looked harder for new Kens for sale if I'd been motivated. Besides, lots of queer fetish art uses Ken better than Barbie--there's a deep, persistent bias across the whole American sexual spectrum, believing butch is innately more outrageous, braver, healthier, more cutting edge--not just in art, in life.

    The Cendancers are my testimony that femme is just as brave and funny and hot.

  5. I favored mammals because I'm lazy and let Barbie sway me. I should do a Dragon Barbie, but that luxuriant Barbie hair just seems her trademark, so I went with more of it... as in all over... And Falcon Barbie or Fairy-Tern Barbie, sexy though they'd be, posed practical and legal factors. A birdwatching friend did donate a lot of shed feathers she'd found over the years, but without proof the source didn't involve harming any birds, a sculpture using them would be ethically dicey and legally unsellable. If I can find an easy way to create vinyl feathers--I'm looking at old Venetian blinds now--I may do an avian Barbie or two.
Introduction - A Chart Of All The Dancers Bios: Barbie - Bios: Non-Barbie - Bios: Chimeras - Recipe for Centaurs - Sets - World(s)


Centaur Barbies


dolls, acrylic, nails, epoxy

Aifelle in The Coming Dark

Archa

Ariel in Coral Dream

Bergia in Rain is Sky-Grass

Dlana in Snuggle Up...

Filia in Kelp Gets me Wet

Flora in I Built Mtns

Frizia

Fuchsia

Kentaur in Red Hot Desert

Lia

Lina in O Wanderer

Lotora in Ruby as big as...

Nila

Proni in Mirrormate

Shya

Sidera

Spira in Microgravities

Storia in News from Tasa, Probably

Suplica in Balance of Light &...

Zara

Centaurs (Pre-Barbie)


acrylic, Fimo, Paperclay, wood, wire

Parda auditioning

Dzoa in As Leaves Turn

Pina in Moonrise

Riraa

Hashi

Chimera Barbies


leftover doll bits, found objects

Bulba

Octana

Pelva

Tenta

Tiara

Trifida

The chart and the bios below aren't comprehensive. For a dancer's full photoset, see the art gallery under her name.

Introduction - Chart - Bios: Barbie Cendancers Bios: Non-Barbie - Bios: Chimeras - Recipe for Centaurs - Sets - World(s)

AIFELLE

Aifelle is a gracile (lightly built) cendancer. She's named for the Eiffel Tower, which she resembles when she raises one arm, foreleg and hindleg together into a radio-tower shape no human dancer can match.


Aifelle in I Dream of Skea

Aifelle in I Dreamed I Made Love to the Stars

Aifelle was built from two Latina Barbies, two of the few dolls I bought new. Because they're recent, they're more anatomically realistic than older Barbies (still skinny and leggy of course); they have a swayback that makes it easy to build the joint where the dolls join to form a centaur. A second dancer, Shya, has Latina Barbie hindquarters.

Aifelle's coat is zebra-striped, a pattern (according to Science News) that fails to confuse large predators but does confuse small ones--flies! So they're a good indicator she's from somewhere hot and buzzy. Her lean build, ideal for heat dispersal, also suggests she's from a hot region, probably savanna or desert.


Aifelle in The Coming Dark

Aifelle in Beauty from the Plain

Cendancers vary quite a lot in breast size and number; Aifelle has eight small breasts, a humanoid upper pair and a smaller lower pair on both her thorax (foretorso) and main torso. It's doubtful that cendancers have any more multiple births than humans, so most of these are unlikely ever to be needed for milk. On the other hand, having all those extra erogenous zones must be fun. Evolution isn't always about practicality. Why do male humans have nipples at all?


Aifelle in I Dreamed I Made Love to the Stars

Aifelle: portrait

Aifelle in I Dreamed I Made Love to the Stars


ARCHA

Archa is a cendancer whose name derives from her arched back, a pose extreme even among centaurs with their natural ninety-degree curve.


Archa in Diamonds
are a Girl's Best Fur

Archa in Dyeing for Freedom

Archa in Diamonds

Archa's harlequin dye-job

Archa is more substantially built than Aiffelle--taller, more muscular, bustier, and a big shaggier. She probably comes from a cooler climate.

Like Aifelle, she has eight breasts, though most aren't large.

I suppose it's also obvious that the harlequin diamond-pattern in her fur is dye, not natural. Cendancers commonly dye their coats, and patterns this bold aren't rare. I suspect the cream color is at least close to her natural coat; it may be the white/platinum of her hair/mane/tail.

While I've called the dancers centauroid, not all are especially equine. Many resemble other Earth mammals rather more than horses. I'd guess Archa to be, if anything, canine. That brown button nose...

You'll have noticed that she's nude--cendancers don't like clothes, coverings, harness or packs--burdens make them itchy. It's one reason they dye and paint themselves so often; they're lighter ways of achieving variety. This means that nudity alone has no sexual connotation, as it does among humans. Flirtation, showing and sexual attraction are shown through body language. Archa's poses may look to us as blatant as a pole dancer's, but how do they read to her own people? As definitely sexy/flirtatious, but not shocking or offensive.


Archa backstage stretching

Archa flirting

Aifelle backstage stretching

Admittedly, it takes a lot to shock a centaur.


ARIEL

Ariel was one of the first dancers built, and her details, especially paws and hands, are rougher than later sculptures. She is, as her name and flaming red hair suggest, built from an Ariel-the-Little-Mermaid Barbie, a weird crossover doll I found at a yard sale. Ariel the mermaid wanted legs but they hurt and she had balance problems (well, and unrequited-love problems too, but plastic surgery can't fix that). Ariel the doll had two healthy legs, but still had a balance problem--all Barbies do. I thought I'd help her out.

So now Ariel has four strong legs and no balance problem. From crippled on land to a dancer.


Ariel in I Dreamed I Sailed with Coral

Ariel in The Saga of Settlement

Ariel's one of very few Barbie cendancers where all the hair, head/mane and tail, came from the one doll. Usually I had to match two hair colors as closely as I could... but here there was no way. Luckily, that lurid red hair was long. Enough for both ends.

Ariel has forebreasts only. Or, possibly, other small breasts hidden entirely in that rough shaggy coat. She's more wolflike than equine. Or red fox, I guess, based on her coloration. Or fire engine. One of those mammals.


Ariel's big nocturnal eyes

Ariel in The Green Sun

Ariel in The Saga of Settlement

Her huge eyes, even bigger than the average Barbie's already big eyes, suggest that Ariel's subspecies is nocturnal. This plus her thick coat make me suspect she's from a region with long dark winters and/or dense dark forests. In deep shadows, blue dusk or moonlight, that red would look black. Deepsea fish use this camouflage technique; why not Barbie lifeforms?


BERGIA

Bergia in Rain is Sky-Grass

Bergia in Mount me Outdoors


Bergia's name comes, of course, from her high kick--very much in the style of the Follies Bergere in Paris a century ago.

Only because she's a centaur can she kick like this and not fall over. How do those humans do it?

Bergia was built from two antique Barbies from the 1960s--real Marilyn Monroe types. Modern Barbies aren't realistic, but the old ones were extreme. Huge breasts, wasp waist, football-player shoulders, and thick short neck like some Barbie-faced Marine.

This, in the sixties, was apparently Mattel's conception of femme.

But one doll had a swivel built into the waist, allowing her torso to twist in a way modern Barbies can't. It gave her a round waist looking more robotic than human. Sixties fashion didn't bare the navel much--hey, America wasn't tropical back then--so Mattel didn't care.

I took advantage of her swivel waist, letting her torso really twist. Centaur with an extra hinge! Good thing Bergia has a rather shaggy coat that hides that swivel-hinge. Her stock busty frame suggested she'd be from a cooler-weather region (bulk up to stay warm!), so it seemed plausible to make her a bit shaggier than average.


Bergia in Rain is Sky-Grass

Bergia in Mount me Outdoors

In an effort to sleeken up Bergia's football look, I gave her a pelt with longitudinal streaks modeled on some species of deer and antelope. Lengthwise stripes are supposed to slenderize, right?

On Kakalea, the world I eventually built for the Barbie cendancers, Bergia seems to have been much wanted as an ensemble player, showing up in many group scenes; she always can be counted on to add a certain, well, kick.


Bergia in The Triangle

Bergia in Soul, Lift your Tail & Kick


DLANA

Dlana's working title as I built her was Poodlana, and that name says it all. A poodletaur! She was built of one Barbie and one Barbielike knockoff--a big-eyed knockoff with an immense 'fro of platinum curls. Like Ariel and Fuchsia, Dlana is one of the only cendancers whose head and tail are from the same doll-hair. But Dlana goes further--she sports, as poodles, to, other fluffy balls and poufs, at her shoulders, forehips and hind-hips, as well as head and tail.


Dlana in Three Soul-Mirrors

Dlana in Circumsia Expedition

Dlana in Snuggle up Against that Kitan Wind

All that hair makes me think Dlana is a cool-weather breed of 'taur. On the world I've built for the Barbie cendancers, Kakalea, she shows up only in dioramas set in temperate and subpolar regions.

My guess is that Dlana untrimmed might be one big ball of pouf. Only her hairdresser knows for sure.


Dlana in The Forest's My Divan

Dlana: portrait

Dlana offstage: back-poufs

I don't know what else to say. Others may find Dlana's oversize eyes alarming, but I'm charmed. C'mon. How many poodles have charisma?


FILIA

Filia is a pun, named both for the Greek root philia "liking" (as in zoophilia or pedophilia), and for 'filly', a female colt. Filia is small (based on two undersized Barbie knockoff dolls) and appears juvenile or early adolescent.

But looks can deceive. The Barbie centauroids' home world, Kakalea, is a diverse place. Filia is from a country with dense forest and brush; her people run small, down to little more than a meter tall, like our Ituri Forest folk. Filia, at 120 cm (about 4' tall), may yet grow a bit, but is nearly as tall as she's going to get. The photo of her next to Shya, who is tall but not extraordinarily so, gives you an idea of Filia's stature. Or lack thereof.


Filia in Kelp Gets Me Wet!

Filia in Sian Expedition homecoming

Filia & Shya in Kelp Gets Me Wet

The 'philia side of Filia is evident in the photos too. Cendancers are sexually more casual than humans, since pregnancy and birth are much easier/safer. But Filia likes everyone. Big, small, boys, girls, centaurs, chimeras... Filia dives right in.


Filia & Lotora in We Leek Fish

Filia & Tenta in The Little Shoremaid

Filia & Octana exchange love-tokens


FLORA

Flora is not a particularly floral person; her name's derived from floor. After building so many centauroid dancers doing ballet, I wanted to try one doing floor work. So for Flora I relaxed my rule about standing up. She can do all sorts of interesting angular stretches, with three-point balances using arms as well as legs.


Flora in I Dreamed I Built Mountains

Flora in Austerity, or, Chevalurian Spring

But to my surprise, all the portraits of Flora on Kakalea, the Barbie cendancers' home world, involve quite different poses--dramatic kicks skyward, or centauroid equivalents of arabesques en point, where one or two of the support points aren't on the floor at all, but on the backdrop, as in Crimson Bay or I Dreamed I Built Mountains.


Flora kicks a horsefly in Circumsia

Flora in Crimson Bay

This wasn't planned, it just happened. Here are a couple of the early backstage stretches--less dramatic, I admit. But, as you dancers know, the foundation of the fancier stuff.


Flora stretching before a show

Flora stretching backstage


FRIZIA

Frizia's name derived from her frizzy hair and tail. She seems adventurous, showing up all over the Barbie Cendancers' home world, from the edge of the ice cap to tropical rainforest.


Frizia in Kissing Pale Lips

Frizia in Tundra

Frizia in Rafting the Frdai

My apologies for the relative shortage of pictures here. Frizia's harder than usual to photograph. Her coat is dark but glossy, creating glare in full sun; only soft light reveals her complex coat pattern. For Frizia's portraits, I had to wait for days with fog--that diffuse light was the only light that worked at all.


Frizia in I Married Too Many Rainbows

Frizia, portrait


FUCHSIA

Fuchsia's name derives from her luridly dyed hair and tail, not the flowers painted on her short smooth coat--they really don't resemble fuchsias. Fuchsia's all about artifice--many of the centaurs' pelts have natural spots, stripes, or countershading; but Fuchsia's decorated herself so much it's hard to tell what her natural coat would be. Palomino or tan, perhaps, lightening to cream on her breast and belly, with dark brown socks and gloves like a Siamese cat. And Fuchsia does seem a little feline.


Fuchsia in I Made the Sun Come

Fuchsia in A River Named Desire

Fuchsia in I Made the Sun Come

Fuchsia was a thrift store find, one I snapped up instantly. Why? Barbies have big hair, but very few dolls have hair long enough for both a centauroid head/mane and a tail. Fuchsia's mane wasn't just a unique hue, it was long enough for both ends! That was lucky. Barbie hair resists dye, so coloring a pink/magenta tail to match would be hard.


Fuchsia in Floral Dream

Fuchsia: close-up

Fuchsia in Floral Dream

Despite her My Little Pony colors (or perhaps because of them) Fuchsia has the sly seductiveness of the German fetish doll Lili, which inspired Ruth Handler to design Barbie in the first place. I have great affection for Fuchsia and consider her one of the most successful sculptures in the troupe.


Fuchsia in Floral Dream

Fuchsia & Bergia in Soul, Lift your Tail & Kick


KENTAUR

Kentaur's name was inevitable.

There's a reason there's a herd of Barbies here and only one Ken: I never found a single used Ken here in San Franciscos's thrift stores! He's all snapped up by gay/fetish sculptors, I guess--at least, based on all the Barbie art shows I've seen. And I'm at a sculptural disadvantage here! To express your profound artistic vision of Ken in a corset, Ken in heels, Ken with a whip in a dungeon, you only have to score one doll. But it takes two to centaur!


Ken in Red Hot Desert

Ken in Felled by Rain

The troupe's lone "Kentaur" was built from one genuine Ken a friend found and gave me, fused with a musclebound broken Ken knockoff (non-Mattel) scrounged from a Misson flea market. Fusing them took drastic surgery, design compromise and TWC (no, not Tender Loving Care. Tedious Weenie Construction).

Speaking of which... most viewers assume Kentaur has a huge erection and figures the cendancers' world, Kakalea, is a porn site. In fact, Kentaur's not horny here. Believe me, you'd know. Not big as a horse, but big. What's going on is that Kakalean males have a spur of cartilage supporting the penis so it doesn't dangle and flop when galloping (lots of Earth mammals have such structures in bone or cartilage; poor old humans, instead, got rigid... ears? What the hell use are ears you can't aim? This is why I'm skeptical of both Intelligent Design and Natural Selection; humans clearly had a Stupid Designer); so Ken's un-erect state is much like a human erection. Of course in some of these poses Ken is still showing off. Kakaleans have as much imagination as Terrans.


Kern stretching backstage

Kern stretching backstage

I don't much regret the lack of kin for Ken (sorry). He's so stony and fashion-modely--more an accessory for Barbie than her equal. True of his humanoid ancestor doll too, right? But though Kentaur may not have much range as a character--one sultry Vogue stare--he does play well with others.


Ken in The Triangle

Ken with Zara in Summer Savanna

Ken in The Triangle


LIA

Lia's name derives from the Chinese word lì, to stand up. Lia was the first of these dancers built to challenge that law of nature, Barbies fall over!--the first experiment to see if a centauroid Barbie could stand up at all. So her pose was cautious--a dancer between gestures, just being herself.


Lia in Morla's Fish Rule

Lia's violet eyes

Lia in It's Hot but I'm Hotter

A solid success I think. She's a solid girl, too. Big-boned and shaggy-coated. I suspect she's from a cool climate where you need fur like that.


Lia It's Hot but...

Lia & Sidera in News from Bako

Lia in The Green Sun


LINA

Lina's name derives from lean. But not the adjective, though she is lean, especially compared to her shaggy big sister Lia, above. The verb. Lina leans. She's the first Cendancer I dared to try balancing on just three points. I feared she just wouldn't be stable with her torso in dynamic motion. I know, lots of statues pose figures in motion, on a single foot even... but they nearly always have a wide, heavy base firmly attached--essentially a gigantic foot. Lina, like her Barbie ancestors, is freestanding; she has to balance on her own as living creatures do.

I'm surprised she succeeds. But then why don't humans fall over?


Lina in O Wanderer, Stride On!

Lina: portrait

Lina in Flowers of the Tundra

Lina's in a hurry, restless, and it shows. A great walker. Barbie centaurs surely evolved on a world with a lot of savanna, where nomadism was necessary. Always head for rain! But later, supposedly civilized... will they their legs really lose the urge to run for the horizon? And with twice as many legs voting... how's that Aussie ballad go?

We'll wander over valleys and we'll gallop over plains
For we'd scorn to live in slavery bound down by iron chains


Lina in Rim of the World

Lina in Scent of my Rose

Lina in Stride On!


LOTORA

Lotora's name derives from the masked, striped species she's a tribute to: the raccoons, Procyon lotor. Being self-aware, and a Barbie, Lotora has of course too much of a conscience to be what the Latin lotor means--thief--but, as a dwarf told Bilbo Baggins "You can say expert treasure-hunter instead of burglar if you like." Lotora dances roles of striving, scheming (maybe too hard), seeking (and on occasion, finding).


Lotora & Filia in We Leek Fish

Lotora in Snatch the Moon!

Lotora in Lord of the Flies

Lotora is hard to photograph: her dark stripes and raccoon mask don't show up well. And her complex pose, with a hindleg kicking forward, is hard for humans to visualize from a flat image. She's vivider in person--seen in three dimensions, her anatomy and pose are instantly clear.


Lotora in Snatch the Moon!

Lotora in Ruby the Size of my Heart
Lotora's front half crouches, spreads her forelegs and rolls her forehips as if she's excited but almost stunned by what she's found. "It can't be..." But her hindquarters are jubilant--she's turned on, raising her tail, and so confident she throws a high kick forward right past her crouching foretorso. "Caution, hell! We FOUND it!"


NILA

Nila's name does not derive from the Nile (despite those rather Egyptian black bangs) but from kneel. I was curious how this might work with a flexible centauroid dancer. Nila seems to be ceremonial solemn and humble at one end, while the other is strutting, flaunting and free.


Nila in Fall Moon Rising

Nila in Licking this Love Problem

Nila in Too Many Rainbows

The bend inherent in centauroid anatomy between thorax or front torso and hind torso is, at rest, a right angle, but just as with humans this joint can flex a good 90°. Nila demonstrates this--only a human contortionist could back-bend this much, but for a Barbie cendancer this is comfortable.


Nila in Too Many Rainbows

Nila, close-up

Nila in The Black Fan

Nila is another cendancer who's not really based on any equine model. If anything, her face suggests some feline ancestry. Cattaur!

Barbie embraces diversity.

Nila, a wild centauroid dancer. Click to enlarge Nila, a wild centauroid dancer. Click to enlarge Nila, a wild centauroid dancer. Click to enlarge
Nila dances The Black Fan


PRONI

Proni's name derives, of course, from her pose: prone, lying on one's stomach. She was intended as a demonstration that the primordial centaurian spinal curve can straighten out. Centaurs don't have to be L-shaped.


Proni in Ancestral Grandeur

Proni in Mirrormate, or, Drowning in a Pool of Light

Proni's coloration isn't equine at all, but feline, inspired by the cloud leopard of the Himalaya.


Proni in Findings of the Circumsia Expedition

Proni full length in The Green Sun

Proni's another one of those dancers who seems very calm and demure at one end while telling another story at the other.


Proni, close-up

Proni in The Green Sun


SHYA

Shya's name derives from her fore-emotion. Her front end acts shy... leaning back, hiding in her hair, crossing her arms over her forecrotch.

Meanwhile, though, her hindquarters are telling a different story--excitedly raising her tail and spreading her legs.

Humans, too, often try to keep a cool front when we're turned on--hiding our interest not just from others but sometimes from ourselves. Cendancers may be less prone to such self-delusions. With a busy tail flagging your feelings for all to see, it's harder to fool anyone. Including you.


Shya, wanton, hind

Shya, modest, fore

Shya in Summer Heat

Shya was built from two modern, skinny Barbies. As a result, even though she's quite tall, she looks adolescent. While her legs were way more anatomically realistic than ancient Barbies, their range of motion was limited, and to my surprise that translated directly into a limited range of emotion in the finished sculpture. A great pose, but her only pose.


Shya in Blush of Time

Shya, floorwork; she just can't ease that foremodesty!

Shya in Rose of the Quilted Plain

Shya does, however, play well with others...


Shya, Ken & Bergia in The Triangle

Filia & Shya in Kelp Gets Me Wet

Shya in The Triangle


SIDERA

SIdera's name derives not from Latin sidereal, "pertaining to the stars", but from side. She was one of the first dancers built not in a standing pose but to do floor stretches, leaning on one arm; an attempt at relative naturalism and intimacy, not the formal ballet poses most strive for.


Sidera in The Green Sun

Lia & Sidera in The News from Bako

Sidera in Hidden Succulence

Given that I didn't expect Sidera to stand up like the other Barbies, I was startled to discover she could balance in a huge number of positions. The photos here are only a sampling.

Sidera in The Cave of Purple Folds, or, You'll Be Sari

Many of the dances Sidera's shown here in have yet to be finished or even titled; these are only rehearsals.


Sidera in x

Sidera stretching backstage

Sidera in x


SPIRA

Spira's name derives from her posture, a twisting spiral leap. Given how extreme it is, I assumed there would be very few other poses Spira would be stable in. Wrong, wrong, wrong! Here are just seven of the thirteen balanced orientations I found--the most of any cendancer.

Spira, a centauroid dancer. Click to enlarge. Spira, a centauroid dancer. Click to enlarge. Spira, a centauroid dancer. Click to enlarge.
Spira, a centauroid dancer, caught in mid-leap. Click to enlarge.
Spira, a centauroid dancer. Click to enlarge. Spira, a centauroid dancer. Click to enlarge. Spira, a centauroid dancer. Click to enlarge.

The incomparable Spira, in Microgravities, as staged in Port Kori, Toresha (NW Iba) on Kakalea


STORIA

Storia's name derives from her penchant for storytelling. At least in front she's deep in narrative. On Kakalea, home of the Barbie centaurs, I think she'll be a bard--a combination of singer, comedian, storyteller and newscaster.

Her back end, though, is clearly excited by something or someone other than narrative.

Storia, a centauroid news-comedian, onstage in Port Blue, east Kera, an isolated continent on Kakalea, a model of a rather dry world. Click to enlarge Storia, a centauroid news-comedian, onstage in Port Blue, east Kera, an isolated continent on Kakalea, a model of a rather dry world. Click to enlarge Storia, a centauroid news-comedian, onstage in Port Blue, east Kera, an isolated continent on Kakalea, a model of a rather dry world. Click to enlarge Storia, a centauroid news-comedian, onstage in Port Blue, east Kera, an isolated continent on Kakalea, a model of a rather dry world. Click to enlarge
Storia, satirical newsgirl, in The Mail from Tasa, Probably as performed in Port Blue, Kera

Storia's mixed message is because she's a fusion of two very different dolls. Her forequarters are a Barbie with high-end knee joints allowing more than the usual 60° or 75° maximum Barbie bend. I couldn't pass up the chance to have a cendancer who can truly kneel. Well, forekneel. For Storia's hindquarters were a Barbie with no knee joints at all--straight legs mandatory!--but unusually flexible hip joints, making her rolling hips and spread legs possible, lowering her back end enough to connect with her front.

Storia was my attempt to fuse these very different built-in stances, and the emotions they express, into one unified if complex character.

Or possibly just to say that being onstage gets some of us hot.


Storia in Feel my Basket
Storia, a centauroid scientist, in her lab. Click to enlarge.
Storia in The Manifold: a Matherotical Ballet

I never can be sure what my unconscious wants to say until it's spoken. Like any reviewer, I guess at my own meaning after the fact of creation. "Don't trust the artist. Trust the art."

The Manifold has Storia turned on by even more abstract ideas--a mathematical manifold. A human might stare at a rotating model of it onscreen; Storia sculpts it, touches it, can't keep her hands off it. Or other body parts.

Storia, a centauroid dancer. Click to enlarge. Storia, a centauroid dancer. Click to enlarge. Storia, a centauroid dancer. Click to enlarge.
Storia dances her composition The Manifold: a Matherotical Ballet in Port Kuri, west Ata, Kakalea
Storia, a centauroid dancer. Click to enlarge. Storia, a centauroid dancer. Click to enlarge. Storia, a centauroid dancer. Click to enlarge.

Storia's basic stance is a little like Nila above, but what a difference in mood! Blonde, slightly goofy enthusiasm versus a black-cat sphinx, all sly control.


SUPLICA

Suplica's name derives from her prayerlike stance. But Suplica seems more celebratory than entreating, more joyful than humble. Fine with me!


Suplica backstage

Suplica sings Lift Us Into Rain

Suplica in The Balance of Dark and Light

One of my favorite cendancers. A grand simplicity. Maybe it's just her symmetry? For most of the dancers I favored more naturalistic poses--people are rarely symmetrical--but I imposed symmetry on Suplica purely for engineering reasons, to make that long cantilever stable so she could float midair...


Suplica in Balance of Dark and Light

Suplica's gold eyes

Suplica in The Brass Sun

...only to find it worked esthetically too.

Suplica, a zebra-striped centauroid dancer. Click to enlarge Suplica, a zebra-striped centauroid dancer. Click to enlarge Suplica, a zebra-striped centauroid dancer. Click to enlarge Suplica, a zebra-striped centauroid dancer. Click to enlarge
Suplica in The Brass Sun, a wry prayer against sandstorms, Port Dlemu, Tuan Desert, Kakalea


ZARA

Zara's name derives from zaraaf, the Arabic word distorted in English to "giraffe". Zara's pelt is reticulate (fishnet-patterned), like a giraffe.


Zara in Rain, Fertilize Me!

Zara's blue, whiteless eyes

Zara in Some in Pokta Like it Hot

Zara clearly is from hot savanna country where a giraffe would feel at home. Long and lanky for heat dispersion--and perhaps so she can reach well into trees. When she rears up, her hands can pick fruit well over 3m up (say 11'). She is her own ladder.


Zara: handstand

Zara in I Make Things Rise

Zara & Ken in Summer Savanna

Of course it's easy to forget that all these cendancers are taller than they seem. Standing on all fours, their normal stance, they average about 150 cm tall (5'); but stretched out or reared up on hind legs, human-style, their long torsos alone are 150-180 cm (5-6')--add those long legs and their heads are 240-270 cm up (8-9'). Zara's just the one dancer who reveals their full height.



Introduction - Chart - Bios: Barbie - Bios: Non-Barbie Cendancers Bios: Chimeras - Recipe for Centaurs - Sets - World(s)

These five figures were my first experimental cendancers, done February-July 2011, just before I tried Barbies as an armature. Structures and materials vary greatly:

Abyssia viewed from space: an Earth where up is down so land is sea, by Chris Wayan. Click to enlarge.
Abyssia

As a group, these non-doll Cendancers had traits in common: less human faces, digitigrade legs (their hind legs have that extra "backward" joint humans lack--well, it's hidden in our heel), and cat/doglike paws.

Because they look so different from the Barbies, I ended up not placing them on the world I built for the later Barbie troupe, Kakalea. Fear not. A non-Barbie centauroid world, Abyssia, is nearly finished--a variant Earth where insects have four limbs and vertebrates six. It will have quite a few intelligent birds, and three intelligent centauroid mammals:

  1. Leptaurs: leopard-sized omnivorous felines like Dzoa and Parda
  2. Equi: ponylike herbivores, but with paws not hooves, like Riraa and Pina
  3. Foxtaurs: fox-to-coyote-sized omnivorous canines like Hashi
Abyssia is mapped, sketched and viewable now. It's not an alien planet dreamed up from scratch, like Kakalea, the Barbie cendancers' home; it's an alternate Earth where up is down, continents are deeps, abysses are land, islands are lakes, trenches are mountains... The geology, geography, species and cultural basics are done, but as yet Abyssia lacks the elaborately staged dioramas you see on Kakalea--I'm still painting and tweaking the figurines and collecting backdrops. Patience! Even Jehovah took a few days...

This gallery is not alphabetical but chronological, since these sculptures show my steps toward building reliable centaurs.



PARDA

Parda's name derives from Latin pard, a leopard or other big cat. And Parda, though centauroid, is unquestionably feline, far more than equine.

Parda was the first centauroid dancer I built. I wasn't sure such a freestanding, baseless sculpture could balance firmly on just three feet.

Sculpture by Chris Wayan of a dancing cattaur, a centauroid people on Abyssia, an Earth where up is down and down is up. Click to enlarge. Sculpture by Chris Wayan of a dancing cattaur, a centauroid people on Abyssia, an Earth where up is down and down is up. Click to enlarge. Sculpture by Chris Wayan of a dancing cattaur, a centauroid people on Abyssia, an Earth where up is down and down is up. Click to enlarge. Sculpture by Chris Wayan of a dancing cattaur, a centauroid people on Abyssia, an Earth where up is down and down is up. Click to enlarge. Sculpture by Chris Wayan of a dancing cattaur, a centauroid people on Abyssia, an Earth where up is down and down is up. Click to enlarge.

And Parda did have problems at first. Her material (spackle from a hardware store) was heavy and tough and didn't crack--quite a nice sculptural material, all in all--but even with metal bones (coathanger), her legs had a little flex in them, so over time they tended to sprawl until she got wobbly. I inserted long steel nails like shin-splints, strengthening her legs; that stabilized her.

A centauroid feline dancer, Parda, native to Atlantis on Abyssia, an Earth where up is down, sea is land; sculpted 2011 by Wayan. Click to enlarge.
Parda singing in... show to be announced

Parda's small, just child-size to the other figurines. I didn't yet know the series would be Barbie-sized. Her hobbitude is fortunate--her main component, spackle, is quite dense, so if I'd made Parda Barbie-scale she'd weigh 2-3 times what she does; I suspect I couldn't have stabilized her sprawl-problem... or I'd need to graft on stiff stumpy elephant legs. And I wanted Parda free to really dance. As Emma Goldman said: "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution."

A centauroid feline dancer, Parda, native to Atlantis on Abyssia, an Earth where up is down, sea is land; sculpted 2011 by Wayan. Click to enlarge.
Parda in unknown show 2
A centauroid feline dancer, Parda, native to Atlantis on Abyssia, an Earth where up is down, sea is land; sculpted 2011 by Wayan. Click to enlarge.
Parda in unknown show 2
A centauroid feline dancer, Parda, native to Atlantis on Abyssia, an Earth where up is down, sea is land; sculpted 2011 by Wayan. Click to enlarge.
Parda in unknown show 2

Parda is a leptaur, a leopard-sized omnivorous feline native to my version of Atlantis on Abyssia. Well, and nearby Azorea. And a lot of port towns all over the world (range map)... Parda can't swim well (you try floating with no fat and muscles of heavy spackle) but she can climb rigging better than you. Sailing is a kind of dance.


DZOA

Dzoa's name derives from Chinese "zuó" (pronounced "dzoh?" with a questioning tone), meaning "sit", since her primary pose is that of a reclining cat.

Don't bother clicking Dzoa's dances and plays yet--all I have yet are the bare titles.


Dzoa in I Turn As Leaves Turn

Dzoa, a portrait

Dzoa in Roll with the Thunder

Dzoa has a centauroid body-plan and a full, rather horselike tail, but she's far more feline than equine. Like Parda, Dzoa's a leptaur, a native of the Atlantean hemisphere on Abyssia, homeworld of these non-Barbie centauroids.

Unlike her predecessor, Dzoa's nearly as large as the Barbie centaurs that came later. Not quite, but I was gaining confidence.

Caryatids, below, will be a furry Isadora Duncan-ish ballet staged (as the name suggests) in a land with a rather Greek culture--due to its Mediterranean climate. The southwest shore of Atlantis and attendant islands, I think--relatively warm and dry, downwind of the main landmass.

Inland, the Sargasso Desert at the feet of the Puerto Rico Range will inspire a sultry piece about desert lakes and mirages...


Dzoa in Caryatids

Dzoa in Sargasso Mirage

Dzoa in Gift of a Rose

On the other hand, Lonely Teardrop, below, will be a piece about Dzoa's native hemisphere on Abyssia, which (aside from Atlantis and its many satellites) is nearly all sea. She'll dance in hops and leaps analogous to the long rather hazardous voyages her people risk. The piece will raise up a serious point--we all know a dry world's a dead world, but can otherwise life-friendly planets have too much water? If so... is Earth?

But I don't know yet where that show will be staged on Abyssia--well, somewhere off Atlantis, but which lonely northern isle? I need to decide, explore the idea, and lay in photos of the dance, maybe quote a song about the loneliness of the blue teardrop that's Abyssia, and, and... sigh!

Eight such dances for this little bio alone! Not enough hours, braincells... chocolate.


Dzoa in Love is a Stretch

Dzoa in Lonely Teardrop

Dzoa in Winter or Spring?

Dzoa was partly inspired by a painting I saw years ago posted on VCL--Steve Gallaci's "Homo Cetacea Pose", his conception of a pensive mer-orca:

Homo Cetacea Pose by Steve Gallaci. A mer-orca on a beach.

Very different hind-anatomy, but a similar pose, face, sidelong gaze, two-tone coloration... and, I suspect, similar personalities.


PINA

Pina's name derives from "supine", lying on one's back, which she does, seductively, in her 'rest" position. I feared she'd be good for only the one pose, but to my surprise she turned out to have some surprising dance moves.


Pina in Wing-Envy

Pina in Love in the Grass

Pina, portrait

Pina is I think the least Barbie-like of all the cendancers. Structurally she's rather equine--face, digitigrade limbs, horsetail--but in subtler ways she reveals a distinct felinity (tiger stripes, cat-paws, cat-flexibility, cat-sensuality).

As with Dzoa and the other non-Barbie dancers, don't click on Pina's shows yet; they're still under construction.


Pina in Wing-Envy

Pina in Love in the Grass

Pina in Love in the Grass

Pina's close in spirit to the Barbie dancers who were soon to follow, but despite her basic centauroid structure, she's just too physically different to be close kin.


Pina in Gift of a Rose

Pina in Wing-Envy

Pina in Moon Rising

Pina's so different you can see why I felt I had to build another world where she and people like her could plausibly evolve: Abyssia. The four dances she's shown in here have yet to be documented; all I know right now is that they'll be scattered across the southern hemisphere, centered on Agassiz, the continent (near our New Zealand) where Pina's people evolved.


RIRAA

Riraa's name derives from her rampant stance--the only dancer rearing entirely on her hind legs. You'll notice these aren't Barbie legs with their humanoid feet (the technical word is plantigrade, "heelwalking", as in humans and elephants) but digitigrade, "toe-walking", like horses. Though Riraa's feet aren't equine hooves but wide paws, more like a lynx or snow leopard. This helped her grasp the ground and improve balance--needed with that strong curve. And her tail's not Barbie hair but solid Paperclay (a bit like Sculpey); I needed a solid, rather bushy tail for a firm tripod. A slender feline tail or a marelike tail of mere Barbie hair would just be too weak.


Riraa in Circumsian Expedition

Riraa in Spring Up!

Spots are natural; rings are dye

Sculpture's a funny art, more like bridge-building than drawing or painting (or live dance!) Engineering considerations come first. "Is she beautiful?" has to wait its turn behind the fundamental question: "Will she fall down?"


Riraa backstage rolling

Riraa in Spring Up!

Riraa's the only one of the non-Barbie cendancers who slipped into Kakalea, the online world I built for the Barbie centauroids--she shows up at a spring festival here, an arctic expedition there, without explanation for her feline face and horselike hind legs.

She'll eventually find a more substantial home on the other world I'm building with some centauroid lifeforms, Abyssia. But I suspect her little vignettes on Kakalea will remain. Just one more unexplained anomaly. Tourist? Immigrant? Freaky minority?

Why not? Worlds are big, complex... mysterious. Perfect consistency is a sign of fiction.


HASHI

Hashi's name derives from Japanese; it means both bridge and chopstick. Both are appropriate. She crouches and stretches lengthwise; the span between her feet is the longest of any cendancer, by far. A suspension bridge! Her stance simultaneously crouches and reaches high.

Why "chopstick"? Well, her bones are made of them. Saved from sushi dinners. Always recycle!


Hashi in Tree of Time

Hashi in Desert Light

Hashi in Simplicity City

Hashi's thorax is proportionally small, like classic Greek centaurs, but unlike the Barbie cendancers, where the doll-proportions enforce a more humanlike ratio (not human of course; Barbies have always been insanely leggy). Hashi's upper body is modest enough that without her arms and with a deerlike head instead of her rather canine face, she could almost pass at a distance for a long-necked antelope.


Hashi in Leaf-Fall

Hashi in Sundazzled

Hashi in The Mariana Mountains

Hashi's lower body--her support--is crouching, but with her hindquarters up. In an animal this would read as playful but possibly sexual as well. But Hashi's arms, head and face are aimed upward; her expression looks more spiritual than seductive.

It's almost as if sex and play are the base supporting her spirituality, not distracting her from it.

No ulterior message here, no no!


Hashi in Burst Through Old Snow

Hashi in Atolls

Hashi in Burst Through Old Snow

Hashi is big--1/4 lifesize, not 1/6 or so like the Barbies. So even though she's the only non-Barbie who's hollow, she's quite heavy. Look up the cube/square law! I wanted to try a larger piece, but I worried about needing heavy supports, so I tried to make her armature very light. Her bones are chopsticks, her muscles crumpled masking tape, her skin caulk (yep, from a caulking gun). About a tenth the cost of Sculpey, Paperclay or acrylic sculpture gel, and just as strong. Because she's hollow her legs can be slender yet bear the weight. Lifesize cat-taur with jointed wood bones, dense foam muscles, fake-fur pelt; paws unfinished. Dream figure by Chris Wayan. Click to enlarge.

She's not the biggest centaur I've built. Not by a long shot. Insights from her construction went into the building of my latest sculptural project: Silky, a freestanding posable plushie cattaur 150 cm (five feet) tall... wood bones, steel joints, dense foamrubber muscles, hand-sewn fake-fur coat.

I'm still finishing up that little experiment--not just Silky but three sister Foam Furs.


Introduction - Chart - Bios: Barbie - Bios: Non-Barbie - Bios: Chimeras - Recipe for Centaurs - Sets - World(s)

The Chimeras are made of spare parts from the Barbies mutilated in the making of the Cendancers. Building each centaur takes two Barbies, wasting a head, two arms and two breasts. Multiply by 21 centaurs and you see the recycling problem! I built up a huge Arms Stockpile (fear me, world leaders!) It got to be quite a gruesome body-parts heap, with disturbing connotations of Violence Against Tiny Plastic Women. I got landfill-guilt, too. "Barbie Forever" is a decent slogan but "Barbie Parts Forever"...

So, in a bout of Special Creation, I played God, or at least Frankenstein. You'll notice that on average the chimeras are leg-poor and arm-rich. Think of them as shaped by their environment--the particular nature of their body-parts heap. Octana, Tiara and Bulba reduced the Arms Stockpile, and thus the risk of an Arm-ageddon.

I've tried to make them sculptures, not mere Postmodern Assemblages, but while Pelva, Tenta, Octana, and Trifida at least bow at unity and evolutionary plausibility, Tiara and especially Bulba are jarring. But then so are the Platypus, the Blue-Arsed Mandrill, the Hairy Armpit, the Vice-President... oh, there's copious real-world evidence for a Creator, for Design. Just not Intelligent Design. Nietsche was timid. God is dumb.

This gallery puts the more plausible designs first. Degeneracy by degrees!


OCTANA

Octana's name derives from her number of limbs. Or does it? She's high-octane too. Way more energetic than your average tree-climbing, cartwheeling Octopus Barbie.

Octana will evolve on some deep-sea archipelago--not Tahiti, more like the Galapagos--call it Biariti. My best guess: a centauroid castaway survived by dabbling around the pools and climbing trees--limbs were advantageous but all that torso was not. A mutation lost or compressed the reduplication of torso-segments that creates centaurism; this mutant ancestor may have looked almost like Shiva the Dancer, with an Earthlike single torso but extra limbs at hips and shoulders. But once you've suppressed one body-segment, others can go... Limbs get retained, vertebrae and redundant pelvises don't, until...


Octana at home

Octana runs by cartwheeling

Are Octopians doomed to marginality? Small and weak next to a centaur, but looks are deceiving. Her folk will find work on centaur-crewed sailing ship, up in the rigging. They can climb (and survive falls) where 'taurs cannot. Eventually, octopian sailors will be common all over the tropics.

Later still--millennia perhaps, but at some point in deep time it will happen--Darwin has spoken!--an Octopian sailor will jump ship and get stuck in a logging port in the shadow of a temperate rainforest--redwoods, or the equivalent. Let's call this gloomy place the Nutwood. Out of sheer boredom our sailor will climb a giant just to get some sun. She notices the crowns bear nuts, and symbiotic berry bushes grow all over (their debris creates a moist sponge saving the big trees the trouble of pulling all their water up from that gloomy floor--this happens with redwoods too). Food orgy! Warm and well-fed, she'll shout "Eureka!" and come down to write home--spreading the gospel about the true Octopia--and the great trees go from endangered (cut for mere lumber) to lovingly tended. Sky-farms!

Hmm. A lesson about nuts, or vision, or nuts with vision, but I'm not sure what the moral is. Patience?


PELVA

Pelva's name derives from pelvis, of course. She's so stripped-down to essentials that it's hard to see what other feature you could name her for. Her defining characteristic is that other features just aren't there. I suppose she could've been called Cauda (Latin for tail); hers is long and prehensile. Or Absentia, I guess. But then the phrase in absentia would acquire... kinky connotations. We are not that sort of website. A sexy site, but an innocently sexy site.


Pelva of Ksurbai

Pelva in A Farewell to Arms

Pelva's prehensile tail

Pelva is, I think, an island oddity like the marine iguanas of the Galapagos--at home in Ksurbai, Pelva will have no predators. Trusting as a dodo! But Pelva's still agile. Think of Ksurbans as the Barbie equivalent of the ostrich--fast, nearly as fast as centaurs, and with greater endurance--a Ksurban can walk or jog all day. Why not? They're not lugging much weight up top, after all; and their small, vertical body plan radiates heat better than centaurs, and doesn't pick up much noon heat from the sun, either. Cold spell? Just wrap that big tail around you!

Really, except for the clumsiness of her tailhand, Pelva has no reason to mourn her lacks. Simplicity is bliss!


Pelva in A Ksurban Odalisque

Indeed, to Pelva, we may all seem centaurs--that is, creatures of excess. Crawling with redundancy.


TENTA


Tenta's name derives from tentacle, of course. But the provenance of that tentacle is strange. All the other cendancers' body parts were bought or given to me; but Tenta's origin was Fate.

I was walking with the poet Patagia in Holly Park Circle, in San Francisco; I saw a red rubber octopus tentacle on the grass. Popped it on my finger and walked on round the hilltop, critiquing Patagia's latest rough draft.

A dog saw my suckered hand and bristled, horrified--saw it as part of my body! I was a monster!

Startling to see through the dog's eyes so clearly, but I did.

So I wondered... "What if I were the appendage and the tentacle the body?" And so...

Forbidden love: Tenta (with suckers) and Filia (centauroid). Click to enlarge. Forbidden love: Tenta (with suckers) and Filia (centauroid). Click to enlarge. Forbidden love: Tenta (with suckers) and Filia (centauroid). Click to enlarge.
Tenta (with suckers) and Filia (centauroid) in an undersea musical, 'The Little Shoremaid'. Click to enlarge.
Love-duet of Tenta (sea) and Filia (land) from The Little Shoremaid
Forbidden love: Tenta (with suckers) and Filia (centauroid). Click to enlarge. Forbidden love: Tenta (with suckers) and Filia (centauroid). Click to enlarge. Forbidden love: Tenta (with suckers) and Filia (centauroid). Click to enlarge.

Like the other Chimeras, Tenta will evolve somewhere deeply isolated--say, the Isle of Leira. Equally at home in air or water, trees or tidepools, but strictly coastal. And her amphibious flexibility has a price; Tenta's slow and small by centaur standards. But then, the Cendancers would see all Earth critters as disabled, lacking dedicated hands--just clumsy hand-feet constrained by their other vital functions from developing into a sophisticated hand. It's true even of apes. Elephants do have one, and humans stood up to gain two--at the price of backaches and hard births. In contrast, centauroids have always had two efficient, dedicated hands.

We live on the Island of Misfit Toys. But without proper Science Fictional Estrangement (hello, Barbie), you'd never notice.


TRIFIDA

Trifida's name derives from John Wyndham's old apocalyptic novel Day of the Triffid, with its weird tripod life-forms. Her peculiar, minimalist body evolved in a deeply isolated island group like Hawai'i or the Galapagos or New Zealand, where species settle and... change.

Of course, on a more cynical level, Trifida didn't evolve, but was created by a Stupid Designer. Because building a single Barbie centaur takes two dolls and wastes one head and two arms. Multiply by 21 centaurs and you see the recycling problem! Octana, Tiara and Bulba put a big dent in the Arms Stockpile, but there are plenty left. Trifida helped.

Trifida's comfortably ambulatory and neatly streamlined down to essentials. If concision is a virtue, Trifida's a structural saint! Sensing, speech, eating, locomotion, reproduction, nursing, even basic tool-use, all in an incredibly light package. The perfect balloonist, the lightest ballerina, the ideal astronaut!

Trifida, a tripedal native of Thathai Island, a sort of Galapagos, on Kakalea, a model of an Earthlike world full of Australias. Click to enlarge. Trifida, a tripedal native of Thathai Island, a sort of Galapagos, on Kakalea, a model of an Earthlike world full of Australias. Click to enlarge. Trifida, a tripedal native of Thathai Island, a sort of Galapagos, on Kakalea, a model of an Earthlike world full of Australias.
Trifida of Thathai
But you can spot the flaw. Poor Trifida and her tribe are in an evolutionary dead end. She needs all her paws for balance as well as grasping. Raise one hand with a heavy tool, and balance gets awkward; raise two, and you probably fall over. (Watch a crow use a tool; it's an amusing game for all concerned.)

While a perfectly viable creature on her lonely predator-free island, Trifida could never compete (at running or dexterity) with the tall Barbie Cendancers just a few days' sail away. And because her hands are preoccupied--on their way to becoming mere feet--I doubt she'll ever build that ship.


TIARA

In my quest to find uses for leftover Barbie breasts, shoulders, arms and necks (those phallic things), I may have gone too far. Tiara uses several pair of each, plus a rather alarming seventh arm. I guess Tiara is hermaphroditic? Hard to say just how that equipment works. But s/he seems to be working it... in public...

Tiara's name derives from her crown--the largest, showiest body-covering worn by anyone in the series. Practically clothing!


Tiara, the Queen (and also apparently King) of Uups

I suspect Tiara's species evolved, or devolved, on an archipelago even more isolated than those of the other Barbie chimeras--let's call them the Uups Islands. Here, the basic centaurian framework has been preserved, but only the letter of the law, not its spirit. These Uupians, faced with no enemies and no challenges, became, in a word, inept. Island dwarfism is the least part of it; these stumpy, clumsy, oversexed centauroids look just as weird to the mainland Barbie centaurs as they do to us.

But Tiara can dance! Because... "It ain't the meat, it's the motion."

I just now realized--three years after building Tiara--that she's based on a recurrent nightmare I had at age four or five. As kindergartners, we were forced at recess into a transmogrifier that turned us naked, waddling, with fat short legs, big bellies (and fat breasts on the girls), and genitals (male or female) swollen big as our torso, dragging on the ground (ow). But that wasn't the nightmare. It was that we still had to go through our school day, enduring classmates' stares and nudges, acting as if nothing was wrong.

I think the nightmare was triggered by my seeing a picture of a man with elephantiasis, who had to carry his grotesquely swollen penis around in a wheelbarrow.

Anyway, Tiara has the same stumpy waddling gait... and other features.


BULBA

Bulba's name derives from her head, built of a flayed Barbie face, a copper wig, and a rubber squeeze-bulb.

Bulba, a goatlike centauroid from the Uups Islands on Kakalea, an unlucky Earthlike world with dry continents.
Bulba in the wild, showing her arm-tail
Bulba, a goatlike centauroid from the Uups Islands on Kakalea, an unlucky Earthlike world with dry continents. Click to enlarge.
Bulba of 'A'o, a studio portrait

This righthand shot is an experiment: Bulba's tribe is still in the Stone Age and has no tradition of staged drama or dance; but here Bulba has been treated to a glamorous studio photo session!

Hmm. Maybe not. Let's move on.


Bulba's odalisque

Bulba's wedding ring

Here's a seductive Bulban odalisque, as she bears her six (eight?) breasts and that... penis? ovipositor? (Barbie neck!) Whatever it is, it must be sexy.

Notable in close-up on right: Bulba has a wedding ring on her tail-hand. Even Bulbas can find mates. Mutants of the world, take heart!




Introduction - Chart - Bios: Barbie - Bios: Non-Barbie - Bios: Chimeras - A Recipe for Centaurs - Sets - World(s)

Recipe requires two Barbies, tiny saw, drill, one large nail, glue, paint, 6 days labor (rest on 7th); no Eden or spareribs required.
  1. Find two Barbies with similar hair-color, both deserving to die. If you thought "that would be all Barbies", you are cynical, but may proceed with the recipe.
  2. Lift up the Barbie with more character in her face unto your right hand, and spare her. For now.
  3. Grasp the Barbie with the blander smile in your left hand. Saw her in two, cutting along her collarbone.
  4. Cast her sappy head and arms into the outer darkness. All you care about is below the neck. You are apparently that sort of deity.
  5. Glue these loser hindquarters onto the better Barbie's butt.
  6. Fish the severed head up from the outer darkness. Oops. Next time cast into limbo--easier recall. Snip off falls of hair, and glue them on a bendable wire or nail in successive waves till you've built a tail.
  7. Drill a hole in the hind-butt but only when other gods won't see, because it looks too kinky. Insert the tail. Ditto.
  8. Smooth the junction between fore and hind-torsos. You may have to file ragged edges. Think of this as tough love. Caulk the cracks. Let dry.
  9. Dab thick paint to create spiky fur. Scrape with comb or pins for finer texture. Let dry.
  10. Paint colors--fur pattern, bare skin, lips, eyes. Let dry.
  11. Touch gloss on the eyes, lips, nails and elsewhere if she's all excited, or you are. Let dry... et voilà! One Barbietaur.


For example, here's the frankensteining of Fuchsia, that flower-tattooed dancer-explorer who sails up jungle rivers and seduces the sun in metaphysical musicals.

TRIGGER WARNING! if you're about to undergo colonoscopy, skip #4. If you're not, skip #4 anyway. You'll never trust a power drill again.


The sculpting of Fuchsia, a centauroid dancer, out of two Barbies; by Chris Wayan. Click to enlarge The sculpting of Fuchsia, a centauroid dancer, out of two Barbies; by Chris Wayan. Click to enlarge The sculpting of Fuchsia, a centauroid dancer, out of two Barbies; by Chris Wayan. Click to enlarge The sculpting of Fuchsia, a centauroid dancer, out of two Barbies; by Chris Wayan. Click to enlarge The sculpting of Fuchsia, a centauroid dancer, out of two Barbies; by Chris Wayan. Click to enlarge The sculpting of Fuchsia, a centauroid dancer, out of two Barbies; by Chris Wayan. Click to enlarge The sculpting of Fuchsia, a centauroid dancer, out of two Barbies; by Chris Wayan. Click to enlarge The sculpting of Fuchsia, a centauroid dancer, out of two Barbies; by Chris Wayan. Click to enlarge The sculpting of Fuchsia, a centauroid dancer, out of two Barbies; by Chris Wayan. Click to enlarge The sculpting of Fuchsia, a centauroid dancer, out of two Barbies; by Chris Wayan. Click to enlarge The sculpting of Fuchsia, a centauroid dancer, out of two Barbies; by Chris Wayan. Click to enlarge The sculpting of Fuchsia, a centauroid dancer, out of two Barbies; by Chris Wayan. Click to enlarge The sculpting of Fuchsia, a centauroid dancer, out of two Barbies; by Chris Wayan. Click to enlarge The sculpting of Fuchsia, a centauroid dancer, out of two Barbies; by Chris Wayan. Click to enlarge The sculpting of Fuchsia, a centauroid dancer, out of two Barbies; by Chris Wayan. Click to enlarge The sculpting of Fuchsia, a centauroid dancer, out of two Barbies; by Chris Wayan. Click to enlarge The sculpting of Fuchsia, a centauroid dancer, out of two Barbies; by Chris Wayan. Click to enlarge The sculpting of Fuchsia, a centauroid dancer, out of two Barbies; by Chris Wayan. Click to enlarge The sculpting of Fuchsia, a centauroid dancer, out of two Barbies; by Chris Wayan. Click to enlarge The sculpting of Fuchsia, a centauroid dancer, out of two Barbies; by Chris Wayan. Click to enlarge

Here's a parting shot, just to prove the cendancers aren't just furry fetish sculptures fiendishly employed to further the Marriage of Art and Science... they really are Barbies too.

Mattel trademark still visible on back of a Kakalean native--a centaur made of fused Barbies. Click to enlarge.
"Mattel" stamped on the back of Storia of Kuri, a Kakalean centaur
Introduction - Chart - Bios: Barbie - Bios: Non-Barbie - Bios: Chimeras - Recipe for Cendancers - Sets - World(s)

Most of the dioramas and stage-sets the Barbietaurs pose in use one-of-a-kind fabrics (from shibori & tie-dye to op art to full-on quilts) made by my friend Joy-Lily. She teaches workshops in the techniques you see.

Nila, a centauroid dancer on a rainbow stage in Shirafia, western Ata, a continent on Kakalea, a model of a rather dry world. Click to enlarge
Nila in I Married Too Many Rainbows, op-art by Joy-Lily
Shya, a centaur with leopard-rosettes, before quilted mountains; east Ara, on Kakalea, a dryish Earthlike world. Click to enlarge
Shya in Rose of the Quilted Plain; quilt by Joy-Lily

Introduction - Chart - Bios: Barbie - Bios: Non-Barbie - Bios: Chimeras - Recipe for Cendancers - Sets - Worlds

1: Kakalea

The Barbie cendancers were first shown at San Francisco's annual Altered Barbie Exhibition in fall 2013. At the time they were a self-contained project, but I was reluctant to price or sell them (driving the poor curator crazy--she needed sales) because in the back of my mind I wanted to photograph them in staged dioramas illustrating a world where these Barbietaurs lived.

To honor Barbie's lameness, I designed the place to be a bit dysfunctional--an Island of Misfit Toys the size of Earth! Let's call it Kakalea--bad Greek for bad luck. Lots of land, but mostly Australias and Antarcticas.

The physical construction of Kakalea was simple--one of the easiest worlds I ever built. I bought an old globe in a yard sale and just started painting on it, enlarging Australia, then adding more desert continents, then even more, in an orgy of orange. My reasons weren't scientific but emotional. I'd just finished Lyr, a huge oceanic super-Earth, and I was sick of blue, blue, blue. I wanted hot. And not a bone-dry world, all red the way Lyr was all green and blue. I wanted CONTRAST. Hot and cool colors. Dry and wet jammed together. I wanted... paradox.

I built the mountains with a tube of thick white paint, mostly right out of the tube, then dabbed at with a stick, pulling the thick paint into sawtooth mountain ranges, which I wanted not just for scenery but to block rain on many coasts. Waited a day and then started painting colors--mostly hot ones. Red & orange deserts rimmed by golden savannas... just narrow green shores framing endless outbacks.

I photographed the globe against black-painted cardboard, and added a little atmospheric haze on the horizons, using GIMP, the open source replacement for Photoshop, which I no longer use. People write to ask me what software creates my planets, even after all these years and all these globes, so I'll spell it out: there's no dataset, no fractal generator, no spherical renderer, NO software at all. It's a physical globe just a foot tall. Think of it as a planetary Barbie doll--it's the same scale!

Here, I'll prove it--

Globe of Kakalea, a model of an Earthlike world full of Australias, with attendant centaurs showing scale. Click to enlarge.
What's Kakalea like? I wanted a world that was a little wrong, a little dorky, like Barbie herself. It's a superficially colorful place, but ecologically impoverished and technologically backward...

...in some ways. But Kakalea's never had a world war, and probably never will. There's a kindness in Barbie's bimbo smile. Gandhi under the glitz!

Map of Kakalea, a model of an Earthlike world full of Australias.
Abyssia viewed from space: an Earth where up is down so land is sea, by Chris Wayan. Click to enlarge.
Abyssia

2: Abyssia

Having built Kakalea for the Barbie figures, I'm currently finishing a second world for the non-Barbies, called Abyssia. It's nearly done--a variant Earth where insects have four limbs and vertebrates six. It will have quite a few intelligent birds, and three intelligent centauroid mammals:

  1. Leptaurs: leopard-sized omnivorous felines like Dzoa and Parda
  2. Equi: ponylike herbivores, but with paws not hooves, like Riraa and Pina
  3. Foxtaurs: fox-to-coyote-sized omnivorous canines like Hashi
Abyssia's geography wasn't dreamed up from scratch like Kakalea, the Barbie cendancers' home; Abyssia's an alternate Earth where up is down, abysses are land, continents are deeps, islands are lakes, trenches are mountains... The result, after a lot of calculation and mapping, is a fertile world with many large islands but few continents; only about 12% land. (Right: Atlantis, with the South American Deep, lower left, and the West African Abyss on the horizon, upper right.)

Abyssia's geology, geography, species and cultural basics are done, but as yet Abyssia lacks the elaborately staged dioramas you'll see on Kakalea--I'm still tweaking the sculptures, collecting backdrops, staging and shooting dioramas. Patience!

Map of Abyssia, a world-building experiment. Click a feature to go there.

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