The performance artist who turned heads and made headlines with a bizarre interpretive dance before the Portland City Council in March is taking her show about incontinence to Scotland.

Sara Juli, 39, of Falmouth will perform her original piece, “Tense Vagina: an actual diagnosis,” at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August.

The festival in Scotland was the first and remains the largest alternative and experimental theater festival of its kind, and one of the largest gathering of artists in the world. Edinburgh has inspired hundreds of other fringe festivals across the world, including PortFringe in Portland, which wraps up this weekend.

Sara Juli’s performance in March at a Portland City Council meeting.

Juli will perform “Tense Vagina” 22 times over three weeks in Edinburgh, beginning Aug. 3. She premiered the piece at SPACE Gallery in Portland in October 2015.

“It’s been a longtime goal of mine,” Juli said Friday night, before flying home to Maine after performances in North Carolina this week. “I have been making dance since I was a little girl, and I have such a passion for it. So many forces come upon you as you age that push you to make choices outside your passion. Through it all, I feel so proud that I have stayed connected to who I am as a performer.”

Part dance, part theater and part stand-up comedy, “Tense Vagina” explores the bladder-control issues that Juli experienced following the birth of her children. The show explains her condition and the treatment she received to alleviate it.

As the subtitle of the performance piece implies, “Tense Vagina” describes an actual medical diagnosis. Juli got the idea for her theater piece as she received physical therapy at the Pelvic Floor Rehab Center of New England. The piece uses humor, movement, sound, text, and audience engagement.

Since she debuted the piece at SPACE, Juli has presented “Tense Vagina” at the Chocolate Factory Theater in New York, the Dance Complex in Boston and American Dance Festival in Durham, North Carolina. The New Yorker magazine described it as “like a standup routine performed in a supine position while doing Kegel exercises.”

She credited Nat May, the former SPACE executive director, for creating the opportunity for her to take “Tense Vagina” to a worldwide audience. May invited a representative of the American Dance Festival to Portland to see her perform, which led to an offer for her to perform last summer at the festival. From there, she got an invitation to perform in Scotland.

Sara Juli of Falmouth moved to Maine from New York. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

“It’s been an amazing progression of opportunities that started with SPACE,” she said.

Juli studied dance in college and moved to New York with the intent of making her career in dance. She and her family moved to Falmouth in 2014. She runs a consulting firm, Surala Consulting, advising artists and nonprofits about fundraising.

She has created a dozen pieces over the past decade. She was in North Carolina this week to debut a new one, “The Lecturn,” which is about the rules that “consume our society.” Other subjects of her work include money management, the death of a parent and promiscuity.

Though she has never performed in Scotland, she has toured internationally with her art, performing in the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, England and Russia. Earlier this year, she was named the 2017 Maine Fellow for the Performing Arts.

In March, Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling invited her to open the City Council meeting with a brief performance. After her introduction, Juli moved to the front of the council dais and began panting, flailing, spinning, kicking, hand-standing and jazz-handing throughout the council chamber. Near the end of her performance, she jumped on a member of the audience and mimicked being sick.

Performing 22 times in 25 days will be taxing, physically and vocally, she said.

“I’ll be headed to Scotland full of lozenges and honey – and a hope and a prayer.”

Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

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Twitter: pphbkeyes