Broadway Bares: Twerk from Home Uncovers Fantasies and Newfound Pride
After more than a year of being homebound and Zoomed out, Broadway Bares: Twerk from Home turned its signature blend of dance and striptease into all-new cinematically filmed mini movies for a unique online premiere Sunday, June 20, 2021.
Broadway Bares: Twerk from Home gave audiences a more up close and intimate Bares than ever before. The show, directed by Tony Award winner and Bares creator Jerry Mitchell, featured 14 original numbers that opened the doors for 170 dancers to uncover fantasies and discover confidence in the wake of being stuck at home for so long.
The spectacular stream raised $349,434 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, which also produced the event.
At the conclusion of the stream, Broadway Bares dancers and those behind-the-scenes launched Stripathon, their annual, competitive fundraising campaign. Stripathon raised an additional $421,581, bring the Broadway Bares: Twerk from Home grand total to $771,015.
“Broadway Bares is the one night we come together to celebrate dance, our bodies and, most importantly, helping those in need,” Moulin Rouge! The Musical‘s Robyn Hurder told the online audience. “The premiere of Broadway Bares: Twerk from Home ensured that folks struggling in this pandemic can see a doctor, get medication or receive the support they need to thrive.”
To kick off the show, Jay Armstrong Johnson jumped on his stationary bike for a ride that got both his and the audience’s blood pumping. In “Rise and Shine,” director and choreographer Nick Kenkel and video editor Daniel Robinson took viewers inside a cardio-heightening workout fantasy featuring buff instructor Alec Varcas and set to a combination of the appropriately titled “Bicycle Race” by Queen and “Ride” performed by Ciara featuring Ludacris.
Director and choreographer Rickey Tripp showcased six women taking control of their lives amid the challenges of the last year. Performer Justine Vasquez and the “B.O.S.S.” ladies broke open their closets to don power suits. With a heavy dose of confidence, the steamy striptease showcasing powerful women was filmed and edited by Neville Braithwaite.
What started as a normal afternoon of at-home baking swifty became a sugar-filled daydream. In “Pies and Tarts,” director and choreographer Jenn Rose pulled singer Melody Betts out of the cookbook to deliver a dynamic mashup of “Cherry Pie” and “Pour Some Sugar on Me” arranged by Dan Kazemi, inspiring a bevy of quarantine bakers to shed their clothes for an aprons-only dance party. The piece was edited by Michael Long and Rose.
To combat the monotony of pandemic video meetings, the men of Kellen Stancil’s “Red Room” delivered a Bares twist to this year’s Silhouette Challenge on TikTok. Dressed in blazers with ascots on the top and lacy fishnets with garters on the bottom, the men spiced up their boring Zoom with some on-screen twerking. Directors of photography Gianni Howell and Omie Blue of Greater Heights Creative turned a candy-colored conference call into an offline meeting of sinewy bodies as the seven men, led by Marquis Cunningham, exchange their blazers and ascots for leather corsets and stilettos.
In a year of isolation, a package delivery was unequivocally the best part of the day. “Big Package Delivery” brought this scenario to comedic fruition, as director and choreographer Michael Lee Scott delivered a slew of eager isolators awaiting packages. Video editor Alex Basco Koch left no peep hole unexamined, with the delivery men and women getting unwrapped along with their shipments.
When Calvin Cooper received a text from his wife that she’s going to be home late, he jumped into the closet – literally. Transported through his wardrobe by director and choreographer Dylan Pearce, Cooper found his drag persona Decorum A. Pabón in a fun house of leather and lace. Director of photography Anthony Garrison followed the “Closet Diva” through the twisting halls into an abandoned warehouse of voguing voyeurs.
Peppermint took center screen in “Sweats Off,” imploring 16 dancers to strip off their limits and “lean into a new version of you” after a year of pandemic self-discovery. Dancers leapt from their couches, kitchens and work-from-home desks to move into new, fearless versions of themselves. Frank Boccia served as director and composer of the original song, with movement by Kellen Stancil.
Choreographer Karla Puno Garcia demonstrated the blessings of alone time in “Me, Myself and I Time.” A sextet of sleeping beauties put aside their bedside reading and UNO cards to discard their sweatshirts and stretchy pants. Director of photography Pierre Marais captured the six dancers in beds of purple satin sheets as they found pleasure in self care.
Choreographer Ray Mercer explored the solitude and intimacy of two people existing in a confined space during the past year in the emotional duet “Alone Together.” Dancers Yeman Brown and Gabriel Hyman endured small New York apartment living during the pandemic in this piece edited by Caue Barcelos, who also served as director of photography.The piece was set to a haunting version of Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love (Remix).”
In “Prom King,” Jalen Preston ventured out of quarantine in search of a Prince Charming at an fantastical pandemic prom. Choreographer James Alonzo White presented a dance party of 14 Black men in formal wear, sipping champagne and strutting. In a hazy ballroom, the men stripped down for an intimate pas de deux filmed by director of photography Kevin Chiu.
All dressed up with nowhere to go, the dancers in Al Blackstone’s “Mirror Mirror” found sensuality in taking off their party finery in duets with their own reflections. Blackstone and director of photography Pierre Marais beautifully captured the moments of self love in isolation, set to the tune “I’m Due (for a Heartache),” performed by Nick Waterhouse.
Directors and choreographers Laya Barak and Jonathan Lee tapped into next-door neighbors’ fanciful desires in “Wet Dream.” Marie Baramo reveled as the focus of hot shower fantasies for four of her neighbors, relishing her powers of mind control in the steamy number. Kyle Beckley of Full Out Creative served as director of photography and editor.
Showing off is the sultry central idea of “Only Bares,” choreographed by John Alix and directed by Austin Nunes. Set to Shoshana Bean’s version of “I Did Something Bad,” featuring Cynthia Erivo, Tomás Matos created a new social media account that summoned a bevy of sensual, slithering admirers from all corners.
The celebratory finale, filmed outside in the heart of Times Square, was directed by Tony Award winner and Broadway Bares creator Jerry Mitchell. Bursting out of lockdown, performers danced past Broadway show posters along the streets of Midtown Manhattan. They are greeted at the iconic red steps of Times Square’s TKTS Booth first by a dozen scantily clad beauties in costumes by balloon artist Justin D. Quackenbush.
Joined by more than 80 Broadway Bares dancers, the finale, co-produced by HunterPark Productions, is a love letter to New York as the city where dreams are made. Dancing together to break out of isolation, the joyous finale showed the resiliency of the theater community and that in working together “there’s nothing we can’t do.”
Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein made a special appearance as the show began, with Broadway favorites Hurder, J. Harrison Ghee, and Jelani Remy each sharing the impact of donations made throughout the stream.
“Every dollar donated during Broadway Bares: Twerk from Home will help those across the country affected by HIV/AIDS, COVID-19 and other critical illnesses receive healthy meals, lifesaving medication and more,” Broadway Cares Executive Director Tom Viola said. “As we look toward better and brighter days ahead for everyone, I’m so glad that everyone chose to twerk from home with us.”
Costumes for the virtual presentation were designed by Sam Brooks, Kenwyn Dapo, Jess Gersz, Alexander Cole Gottlieb, Jennifer Jacob, Jeff Johnson-Doherty, James Nguyen, Nicolas Putvniski, Justin Quackenbush, Brendan Tufts, Jeffrey Wallach, TC Williams and DW Withrow. Caite Hevner served as video production manager, joined by more than a dozen editors and directors of photography. Benedict Braxton-Smith led the audio production team of sound and music editors. Bares veteran Johnny Milani returned as production stage manager, leading a team of more than 20 stage managers.
Broadway Bares’ 30th anniversary celebration, originally set for June 21, 2020, was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The in-person event is set to return in 2022 and will mark the 30th anniversary milestone then.
Broadway Bares was created in 1992 by Mitchell, then a Broadway dancer, as a way to raise awareness and money for those living with HIV/AIDS. In Broadway Bares‘ first year, Mitchell and six of his friends danced on a New York City bar and raised $8,000. Since then, Broadway Bares has raised more than $21 million for Broadway Cares.
Last year, tens of thousands of fans around the world “Zoomed In” to watch the first-ever digital edition of Broadway Bares, which raised $596,504 for Broadway Cares. The show included original numbers, unforgettable moments from past in-person editions, insider stories and special guest stars from the event’s 29 spectacular years.
Broadway Bares is generously supported by presenting sponsor M∙A∙C VIVA Glam, Caraa and these individual sponsors: John Schumacher, Joseph and Puppy Maxwell; Hollis Stern; Rick Lin & Evan Zazula; Joseph M. Montella, MD; Norm Rubenstein; Stephen Billick; Ken Fulton; Howard Grossman, MD; Robert Kohl; Michael Leppen; and Anonymous (2).
✛ Stripathon Fundraisers Deliver Peak Performances