Brynn Tucker enters her show with nerve.And instantly, she exercises a rawness you’ll see often in the course of 60 minutes—and not just the rawness of exposed flesh, but of emotion, joy, as she asks, and seeks to answer, “What’s so important about dancing?”
After this show, I started thinking, “What isn’t important about dancing?” As Brynn articulates (best with her body), it’s expression and movement and, in so many ways, a fight for life. We dance for therapy, to illustrate love, when we are happy and sad, as teens coming to terms with disappointment, in order to purge hate (or pain or regret), and, mostly, to understand ourselves.
She breathes first life into this idea, A Guide to Dancing Naked, as she shares a snippet from a day serving pancakes—a less than sexy task that sends her home itching to channel her best Beyoncé. Grabbing a scarf from the back of a chair, pillows, a yoga mat, and even a reusable shopping bag, she struts in 6 inch heels while wearing everyday objects as if they were crowns of gold.
Tucker has prowess. She grooves through an esteemed set list that includes hip hop, rock, and Sinatra. She pays homage to Singin’ In the Rain and Dirty Dancing, and, for me (at least), her show is less about being naked whilst dancing and more about the dances where we find ourselves—clothed or unclothed.
She draws up rules for a successful solo show, mimes impassioned harp strumming, and asks the audience if we have “the capacity to turn ourselves on” in one of her best sequences. With a background in cheerleading, Tucker is more of a performer than actor, but as a storyteller, she takes the audience with her, wherever she goes—a bathroom as she hangs to a toilet, disgusted with her body; a school pep rally as she leads the JV cheer squad into legend; and in front of the mirror, where she realizes she’ll never be blessed with boobs.
A Guide to Dancing Naked
by Brynn Tucker
1021 7th Street NW 3rd Floor
Washington, DC, 20001
Details and tickets
While she equates dancing to flying, and describes it as yellow, I dare you to not re-feel whatever it is you felt when movement and self-acceptance collided for you: for me, it was freedom. I felt freedom at 19 on a train platform in Rome early one morning, thinking no one was watching as I pirouetted to The Grateful Dead’s “Casey Jones” (which sounded only in my head). I offer this memory to Brynn as repentance for my less than stellar participation in her closing, choreographed dance party. My stomach was empty, my bladder full, and my eyelids heavy (it was after 1:00 a.m.).
Tucker knows that the most surprising songs inspire us to movement—and that’s OK. Just go with it. Pick a platform, find a tune, and explore the space around you for “your body is a beautiful, sensual canvass of humanity.” Life is for living. And living is dancing.
Go see Brynn. She’ll remind you.