Madame Yum on the Twirl-de-Lux set.

LITERALLY NUDE.

Figurative Naked.

Tonight I am taking off all my clothes. And dancing nude. In public.

Currently I feel confronted by the fragility of health, the shortness of life, the ephemeral of happy, and the endurance of love. I have been prompted by grief and by impending acceptance into Crone Society*, and I am grateful to have the time to think, about who I am going to be.

They say the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the next best time is now. This is true of many things! So for me the time is now. To feel the full power of me. To feel keenly the sense of myself, to live up to my principles, to act on my politics, to air my personal philosophies and to take a stand.

So I cleaned out the house… out!

I drove everyone crazy, threw routines into disarray, through out years of accumulated bullshit. And that provided some relieve and gave me time to review. How much bullshit is too much? How much stuff actually stops you? The things you keep because you might need them? Better in use now — by someone else!

But cleaning out the house didn’t do it!

I took up weekly dance classes. Oh how I had missed dancing. Not sure why I stopped? Life gets busy. But oh to move to the beat again, often. To close your eyes, to give control to your body, to just go, and occasionally go-go!

I revisited yoga and this time really listened to the teacher, Robyn, who showed me to listen to my body, that it’s not a competition, its about you and your relationship with your body. My learnings have been profound. Though I admit to still holding a little flame for competition. I blame growing up with so many elder sisters.

So I was literally already primed when I read an email about Trilogy by Nic Green. It was an invitation to join with other women dancing naked on stage in tribute to women’s bodies, celebrating the divine feminine and embracing feminism. Once I had confirmed Nic was a woman I was in. And wow what a woman Nic Green turned out to be…

I walked into North Melbourne Town Hall Arts House the evening of the first rehearsal. I sat in the foyer with other women, feeling a bit nervous but excited! What was ahead? If it was too much I gave myself permission to leave. Would we disrobe tonight? If I felt confronted I gave myself permission to leave. Would we dance? Love to dance. I wouldn’t need to leave. How much talk? I can talk. I wouldn’t need to leave. Look at all these gorgeous young women. If I was the only elder I gave myself permission to leave. All so self assured! If I was holding them back I gave myself permission to leave. If I was too cold, I gave myself permission to leave. To leave. To leave. To leave.

Then my niece walked in.

I was so surprised that I forgot to hide my surprise. Bron is a beautiful young ecologist with a bent for environment, difference, culture and art. We had always recognised each other as the independent women! My surprise informed me that I must have presumed no one I knew would want to do a naked public dance! And maybe some who would love to, but lived too far away. My face had given this all away in a flash (no not naked yet!).

At the first rehearsal we talked, danced, laughed, danced, got to know each other, danced and did not get naked. There was talk and think time about what we were about to do. A gentle start, embracing, listening and working it all out.

On the street after Bron asked me if I was comfortable. She explained that she was happy to move into the second group if I was uncomfortable with her being in my group. So many women signed up for Trilogy that two groups were formed, to take the stage on alternating nights.

“Wow! No way,” I said “I love that we are together! Love it!”

Sometimes it takes a ‘from the mouths of babes’ moment to show you how you feel. Bron turned the permissions I was so liberal in giving myself to leave, into permissions to stay. I look forward to storming the front row with you side by side Bron.

Of course I never believed that ‘naked’ would be part of the stand I was wanting to make. I’ve never been comfortable being naked, have never really shown much flesh, no short skirts, no low cut tops, always one piece bathers, not a bikini. Unless you count the time I learned to surf wearing only a bikini bottom in my teens!

Not a prude so much as concerned how others would judge me. Time has shown me to be my harshest judge. And time is also showing me its time to take that judge to task. Time to drop my defences if I was really going to get a sense of my own power.

I didn’t think I needed a physical challenge. I’ve been physical all my life through sport, performance and dance. I’d been told by a young Vietnamese woman at a ballroom dancing session in Hanoi that I had the music in me!

My challenge though in many ways IS physical; physical and emotional and spiritual; it is to love my body. Love the wear and tear, the scars and bumps, in spite of what kind of body a woman should have, ought to have, could have worked endlessly to have. My body has been through a lot and has only ever been judged, prodded, bound and decried. I have the power and insight now to change that.

So I’m going naked for a public performance with a hundred other women, and my niece, to see myself as one, as every woman, to embrace my body and the fractious relationship we have had. To be in my body, to love it and not to judge it, but allow it to sing and move and wobble and dance for the entire world to see.

And the women I’m going naked with all have a different story, a different reason, a different age, a different background and a different take. However what joins us together is the need to act as a tribute to women, to women’s bodies and to women’s power. The incredible duo of Nic Green and Laura Bradshaw, directors and performers, have respectfully and beautifully draw us out like bats from a cave, into the light.

Tonight I have with me Queen Mary’s (mum) dressing gown to wear backstage, and I’m also wearing Fagyn’s (daughter) perfume. I feel the connection reaching back and forward through time to my women.

And tonight, before we go on, Nic asks each of us to say why we are dancing. My answer was that at first I thought I was dancing for myself, and that’s true, but now I am also dancing for all those women through time who could not dance, so that we might dance today.

Here’s to the sisterhood!

*Crone Society: women who have stopped bleeding; wise women; cailleacha; hags; woman who are venerated for experience, judgment, and wisdom.

ADDENDUM A:

So that was last night!! Wow what a trip! What a beautiful piece of feminist art. And now I know LOTS of women who are prepared to go naked! And I got my period again, what a perfectly perfect tribute, and means the Crone Society* will have to wait!

ADDENDUM B:

This article first appeared on The Aunties. It is now one year since I danced naked. Now an offical crone!

*Crone Society: women who have stopped bleeding; wise women; cailleacha; hags; woman who are venerated for experience, judgment, and wisdom.

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