Oh, motherhood: baking pies, reading to the kids, giving hugs – and no bladder control? Welcome to the world of mother and dance performance artist Sara Juli, who, after giving birth to two babies developed a condition called “tense vagina.”

In her hourlong solo performance at SPACE Gallery on Friday, Juli was not afraid to push some sacred boundaries as she explored the medical diagnosis and her role as a mother. She has a long history of tackling topics that are hard to talk about, including money, death and sex. A skilled comedian, actress and dancer, Juli bravely explored the highs and lows of being a mom. She recounted her children’s endless calls for mommy. At first, it’s laughable, until the “mommy” calls are whispered and then screamed. She pantomimed preparing dinner, endlessly chopping and chopping until the smile faded from her face and she had to lie down on the floor. As her body contorted in agony, she became a person barely holding on.

In an outrageous sequence, Juli danced with breast pumps attached to her chest while singing like a karaoke queen. She interacted with the audience by wiping a nose, tying a shoe, giving a kiss and fixing a wrinkled shirt. She was everyone’s mother.

Her dialogue throughout was funny and poignant, blending the absurd and the tragic. She explained the medical condition she was diagnosed with after having her second child. To cure it, she needed to strengthen and relax different muscles. She humorously demonstrated Kegel exercises prescribed to her to regain bladder control, counting rhythmically while squeezing (presumably).

Next, a garden of vibrators appeared. Juli grabbed one and read the written instructions. Another was passed around for the audience to inspect. Her puffy skirt hid a demonstration. Here, nothing seemed taboo.

The set design by Rachel Romanski and Allison Bonon featured a dollhouse, a biofeedback machine and a collage of household items. Juli changed aprons – fanciful and even exotic designs by Carol Farrell – several times throughout the show, both covering and a highlighting her pelvic area. She had the audience laughing out loud as she lay bare her personal secrets.

Jessica Lockhart is a freelance writer who blogs about dance at talkingaboutdance.blogspot.com. She can be contacted at:

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