It is not lost on me that our annual “Manuary” show fell on the weekend of the biggest march for women’s rights in the history of ever. I’ve been sitting for a bit with how I feel about the fact that we spent the weekend showing off our men-folk., and I’ve come to this conclusion: I feel great about it.
As it turns out, circus – particularly recreational circus – happens to be one realm that is permeated by bad-ass women, both on the equipment and behind the scenes. We express our power every single day when we show up to train and nobody questions whether we are strong enough or brave enough or any sort of enough. I cannot think of a single circus skill about which anyone would say, “oh, that’s just for men.” I know women bases, women straps artists, women doing release moves on rope, you name it. Frankly, there are some moves where being male-bodied is a distinct disadvantage. I’ve even had men come up to me after shows and ask if guys are allowed to do aerial training because everyone they saw on stage was female.
So yeah, I am delighted that we took the time to celebrate the amazing, diverse, fearless men who worked their butts off to put on one of the best shows that has ever graced our stage. And let’s be clear, when I say “men,” I mean that in the most inclusive way possible – gay, straight, bi, trans, non-binary, women in male drag. This was no chest-thumping testosterone-fest – although fun was certainly poked at that stereotype. This was a demonstration not just of strength and power but of humor, naughtiness without vulgarity, vulnerability, flexibility, grace, and pure joy. I’m not ashamed to say that one act – you know who you are – was so full of serenity and soul that it brought me to tears. All of it woven together in a storyline about male strippers auditioning for a new club!
Strippers, you say? Yes, there was a whole lotta clothing removed during this show. I don’t know how many wife-beaters were harmed in the making of Manuary, but it is not a small number. And there were moments when I pondered how we could create a space where female performers could tear off their shirts and perform topless without it feeling distracting or inappropriate. I hope we can get there – although personally, inverting while topless would put me in danger of giving myself a black eye. But meanwhile, I allowed myself to appreciate the beautiful diversity of the human form on our stage while also appreciating the bravery (and pain-tolerance) I imagine it took for many of them to put themselves out there.
So yes, I salute and celebrate the Men of VA, just as I salute and celebrate everyone who marched for women’s rights, for civil rights, for human rights. Community is important at every level, and that is what I saw and felt on our stage. I couldn’t be prouder.