The seductive, titillating, sexy and sassy dance show first jumped out of the proverbial birthday cake nearly 30 years ago and three decades later it’s still bringing allure to stages from coast to coast.
After more than a year cooling off, the heat will once again turn when Broadway Bares brings some virtual virility to screens across the globe.
Created in 1992 by Tony® Award-winning director Jerry Mitchell – who was at the time a Broadway dancer – Broadway Bares was conceived to raise awareness and money for those living with HIV/AIDS. That year, Mitchell and six friends danced in the New York City gay bar Splash and raised about $8,000. The idea grew into a full-blown production across America and has gone on to take in more than $21 million for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS – an American nonprofit fundraising organization for AIDS-related causes, headquartered in New York City.
Scheduled to stream at 9 p.m., June 20, the 2021 Broadway Bares: Twerk from Home dance production will bring together New York City’s steamiest, sexiest dancers who will perform tantalizing, intimate and provocative dance routines. The moves will be performed anywhere from the front porch, the kitchen, the bedroom, to the backyard. And while the pandemic seems to be loosening its grip a bit, the performances will take place throughout the city with strict COVID safety protocols in place.
The stream is free but donations are encouraged. During the show, any money collected will be used to help people affected by HIV/AIDS, COVID-19 and other critical illnesses across the U.S. get “nutritious meals, lifesaving medication, emergency financial assistance, housing, counseling and more,” according to the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS website.
The 30th anniversary edition of Broadway Bares was originally scheduled to take place June 21, 2020, but like many events around the world, was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, in 2020, an online virtual retrospective tribute show/fundraiser with interviews was put together.
Although he won’t be gyrating, grinding and grooving online for the 2021 Broadway Bares: Twerk from Home show, Bill Rolon, the Straz Center’s director of corporate relations and sponsorships, knows what the show entails, what to expect and what it does.
“It was one of my favorite events to do when I was on Broadway and it is now one of my favorite events to watch,” says Rolon, who in 2001 participated in Broadway Bares – A Strip-Odyssey, dancing to the song “Venus” by Bananarama.
He explains Broadway Bares is a bit risqué, complete with both men and women nearly naked.
“It’s definitely done more in the lines of burlesque, but it’s a full-fledged, Broadway-caliber production with very creative numbers that intertwine the theme and costumes,” he adds.
Rolon also points out Broadway Bares is one of Broadway Cares’ three annual fundraisers, along with Easter Bonnet Competition and Gypsy of the Year. Donations are usually collected at the doors of various Broadway and national touring productions prior to these fundraisers. That was obviously out for 2020, so support is needed now more than ever for actors in crisis due to unemployment and health challenges during this past years pandemic shutdown.
Rolon reminds others that the production is almost entirely a volunteer undertaking with more than 170 dancers who will perform the virtual stream.
On the Broadway Cares webpage, Mitchell says the Twerk from Home show will be a reminder of “how beautiful our theater community is, both inside and out.” He adds: “Creating one more virtual edition of our beloved celebration in safe environments reinforces our belief that the best way to take care of ourselves is to take care of each other. We’ll be back in-person in 2022 to celebrate Bares’ 30th birthday. Until then, let’s twerk from home!”
Rolon says the whole Broadway Bares experience is literally a sight to behold and says the production is “about the celebration of dance and the human body, with a Broadway-style tip of the hat to naughty.”
“The need has grown so much. I know how difficult it is to connect to the community that has supported you during a pandemic, trying to stay relevant, connected and trying to deliver what the community wants and needs,” Rolon reflects. “Broadway Bares brings the community together; it’s always been a celebration. It’s important to support as much as you can, even if it’s virtual. And be sure to mark your calendar and come back when we can all do this live and in-person again.”
Paul Catala, a former entertainment writer for The (Lakeland) Ledger and longtime reporter at The Tampa Tribune, is a contributor to Caught In The Act.