City Paper is not for tourists
Remaining Performances: Friday, July 19, 10:15 p.m., Sunday, July 21, 12:15 p.m., Tuesday, July 23, 7:45 p.m., Saturday, July 27, 9:00 p.m.
They say: “Turn the world into your dance floor! Join DC actor Brynn Tucker for a pop-movement confessional, set to this summer’s spunkiest mixtape. On the road to self-acceptance, all you need is a mirror, music and your naked self!”
Rachel Kurzius’ Take: DC actress Brynn Tucker has a very specific goal in mind for her audience during A Guide to Dancing Naked. She wants to inspire you to “dance naked with your glorious self.” Through her own (clothed) dances and the monologues that weave them together, she makes an impressive case for why “you deserve a sexy lap dance from yourself.”
Tucker’s on-stage persona is a mix of a camp counselor and a cheerleader, which makes sense considering that her raison d’être is to bring you to your feet at the end for a special dance party. Throughout the course of the show, she teaches the audience choreography that comes together to conclude the show. It’s simple enough that even the most lead-footed among us could feel like Justin Timberlake.
Tucker’s choreography, meanwhile, is both technically impressive and stylistically diverse. There’s the music video kind of dancing (think Britney Spears circa Toxic), a Beyonce imitation that shows how everyday household items like reusable bags can serve as excellent props for booty-shaking, some modern dance with its ever-extending arms and a campy Broadway version of “New York, New York.” Some of the song cues seem like they may have come too soon in the performance I saw, but Tucker gamely played it off.
The central question here is why Tucker wants all of us to spend some time every day breaking it down in the buff. It begins simply enough—-exorcise your daily frustrations with a little exercise. The naked part at first seems like an attention-getter or an attempt at being goofy. But as Tucker takes the audience further into her own life, it becomes clear that being naked is a way to make peace with your body.
At first, hearing Tucker talk about grounding herself through staring at her naked self in the mirror sounds like a new-age aphorism. Clearly, this woman has no issue with her body, as evidenced by her writing and starring in A Guide to Dancing Naked in a sports bra and spanxx. But we all have issues with our bodies, even Tucker, and it is so painful to hear her tell you about hers. It seems cruel that this woman, with a body that can contort itself so thrillingly, has misgivings about its appearance. But no more cruel than the strange body dysmorphia that plagues any of us.
There’s a popular idea called the mind/body dichotomy—-essentially, that the brain does the thinking while the body does the moving, and the two are entirely distinct from one another. Watching Tucker dance, it struck me that her body oozes feeling in a way that totally smashes that dualism. It’s inspiring enough to make me want to shed it all and boogie on down.
See it if: You want a reason to shake your groove thang and feel good about it.
Skip it if: You’re looking for someone to dance naked for you. Not happening here.