The Unexpected Vagina on stage

I’m not sure if I’m intrigued or just frozen in horror.

Today I had an hour to spare in the Chelsea area, so I grabbed a cliff bar ($2! I miss Sams Club!) and a New York Times and headed to the Chelsea Water Park. I of course, bypassed the business and only glanced over sports to ensure that I could make small talk when necessary (“how bout’ those Dolphins?-

thanks nathan Lane and ‘The Birdcage”) and really only read the arts section. Alwin Nikolais was the featured choreographer/ lighting/sound director. He is famous for weird additions in his pieces, like dancers suspended on ropes or sleight of hand. Mostly, he seems to pull it off with style. His piece, ‘Tower’ seems to be an exception.Here is an excerpt from the Times:

“But for the sake of that flame they should all lay “Tower” (1968), from the longer “Vaudeville of the Elements,” to rest. Perhaps Nikolais’s original dancers could carry off the hectic shouting and posturing that “Tower” demands as its 10 dancers carry around metal frames that are eventually built into said tower. But as it appears now, the performance by the suffering dancers is unconvincing; there is no dance interest, no visual suspense or drama. The wait for the tower to topple — you know it will — is excruciatingly dull. Nikolais, whose currency was wonder and magic, shouldn’t be remembered for this.”

I cannot stand predictability in anything (song lyrics, dance, conversation with jerks on the subway) except when to expect a paycheck. I think art is supposed to catch people off-guard in some ways. I think it is in moments of surprise that art or even people catch my attention. I love those ‘how did the do that lift?’ or ‘did he really just SAY that?’ moments, mostly because I believe that the true function of art is to reveal to the audience something about themselves, and in those moments, I realize my own potential to be shocked, delighted, offended. I am a little of all three of those after watching the featured video this week. It is if anything, unpredictable (what’s with the kazoos?) Performed in 2000 by “Snappy Dance Theater Company’, this Vagina dance was part of a benefit concert for ‘The Vagina Monologues’. A little unsettling but I still liked it. The girl with the long brown hair has gorgeous legs and feet too, which never hurts.

Not everyone likes to be surprised. I personally am not even sure how I would feel about surprise parties, I hate feeling unprepared for anything. Maybe it’s the role of art to sometimes make people uncomfortable, to catch us ‘with our pants down’ so to speak. I implore you, dear readers, to watch this video and let me know your thoughts. The dancers at least, give it a ‘thumbs up’.

7 thoughts on “The Unexpected Vagina on stage

  1. That was strangely beautiful. Perhaps its the Women & Gender Studies minor in me, but that was just amazing. Thanks for sharing. And I agree with you about predictability, at least when it comes to performance art and conversations. I do like predictability in books though. Ex: Harry Potter 7 — good always triumphs over evil. Happy ending, tra la la.

    I’m a sucker for a happy ending when it comes to books.

    • reading takes longer than video/ hearing a song so I think it’s a delayed pleasure and one you have to put some effort into (besides opening your eyes and staring at a screen) to get to your happy ending in books.
      Sadly, I was surprised by hp7- not by the whole ‘walking into his death and coming out of it’ thing, but by jk’s name choices. Albus Severus, I ask you….

  2. That piece was to boring to be representative of my vagina. Firstly the music was too plinkity-plinkity and tiresome. The movement was pretty expected and and a bit obvious. Also, I think I prefer more symbolic art rather than, “ok put your arms and legs like this…ok now hold that position while I reference my anatomy book…yep, that will kinda look like a vagina if we dress you in vagina-colored spandex.”

    And what was the “ta-da! the vagina can also be a birth canal” moment at the end. I just think that was kind of lame. Like they made it so clean and simple, as though pairs of arms just dispense babies out of the pooter. They can’t just show the vagina as being a baby delivering venue. Where was the “the vagina can also be a blood dispenser” moment? And the “sometimes the vagina can be a fungus factory.” And can we seriously have the birth canal moment without a “the vagina can also be a penis-sleeping bag” moment.

    • You know what…I do agree with you a bit about the baby at the end. And why was it a male infant? That reminds me too much of those janky “woman, behold thy son” bumper stickers. I think tossing a female infant at the end would have made an incredible statement about the vagina’s ability to be infinite. But whatever. Maybe they should have thrown red paint at the end, or better yet, they could have shoved a hoola hoop through their vag-arms a la Nuvaring insertion.

      I do want to know what you guys thought of the kazoos though. For me, they were phallic symbols. Miniature, inconsequential phallic symbols that inflated and deflated at the whims of the vag-hags. Brilliant!

  3. Yes, if they had used the hula hoop then this could have become a nuva ring commercial and it would have gone down in history.

    As a complete side note about the male child, i read an article a couple days ago about how a higher percent of women tend to be upset when they find out they are pregnant with a boy, even in societies where men are considered superior. The article suggested that women do not like male children growing inside them because a male seems more foreign to them due to gender difference. I realize that this seems completely random, but it suddenly popped into my head. My reasoning for women’s dislike of being pregnant with a male child is that all women, even those in patriarchal societies, raging feminists deep down. Every woman is all about, as Katie put it, “the vagina’s ability to be infinite” in the same way that men obsess over their peni. (yes i have changed the plural form of penis).

  4. emily- that is kind of fascinating, especially since at least traditionally, hope was more for a male child (if you’re in china anyways). I actually think, as a potential mom (how fitting for mothers day) that I would rather have a boy than a girl because I could leave the issue of ‘how to be a man’ to the father, whereas I think mothers are more responsible for teaching the ways of women to daughters, and considering that i fail continuously at being a lady, I don’t want that kind of pressure.
    I think if we are inserting nuvo rings we should insert lube and tampons, or maybe in a grand finale rather than chuck out a baby, chuck out a loaf of bread as the metaphorical yeast infection.

  5. I’ve seen this youtube video a number of times, somehow it resurfaces its odd crotchy face in my life. It’s a good reminder as to why I don’t go near vaginas. As for the kazoos? queefing.

    I think this is a good lesson in that there are some things that do not make good subject matter for pieces. It lacks mass appeal; while I have full appreciation for the vagina as a sacred vessel of human life, but I doubt highly that many women want to dance about their vaginas.

    Where are the pieces about my arm, or knee caps? I shutter to know, but also curious, if there is a brother piece: The Snappy Penis. A warning to audience members… bring an umbrella. Below link as musical score for it:

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