See Philly Legend Jen Childs Face Her Fear of Dance

Jen Childs’ “Why I’m Scared of Dance” visits Philly for one night only at the Manayunk Performing Arts Theatre.

To an outsider, Jen Childs might seem like a woman who isn’t afraid of anything. After all, she is the founder of 1812 Productions, a nationally-renowned performer, and the creator of the one-woman show “Why I’m Scared of Dance” and she commands the attention of the audience in a way that makes her seem fearless. Yet, like all of us, Childs harbors various insecurities.

“I have always been scared of dance,” she told me in an interview earlier this week. “I have always been massively self-conscious about it.”

Jen Childs.

One would never know it seeing her on stage, especially considering she wrote and has repeatedly performed her show “Why I’m Scared of Dance” in front of thousands of strangers. The show incorporates stories from Childs’ life along with choreographed dance numbers and what she describes as “silly costumes” and is simultaneously comedic and revealing.

She got the inspiration to create “Why I’m Scared of Dance” ten years ago from watching her then six-year-old daughter. “You get a different sense of life as you reflect back on what you were like when you were that age and there was something about the fearlessness of my daughter that I was like how did we learn this fear? How do we learn what embarrassment feels like? How do we learn what shame feels like? And why can’t we stay in this place of this young, bright-eyed six year old who’s not afraid of anything?”

Childs went on to explain that she sees dancing as a metaphor for larger fears and that her show has become an exploration of human beings’ resistance to doing the things that are both scary and liberating.

By employing forms such as jazz, hip-hop, and ballet, Childs has created a moving comedic metaphor that I can’t wait to see, especially since it’s coming to the Manayunk Performing Arts Theatre at Venice Island for one night, only! Since its premiere with 1812 Productions – Philadelphia’s All-Comedy Theatre Company – in 2010, “Why I’m Scared of Dance” has performed all over the country and I feel exceedingly fortunate to have a chance to see it right here in the City of Brotherly Love.

To paraphrase from Childs’ description of the show, it’s about how working at the barre is not quite as much fun as working at the bar. Funny, right? But also profound.

Personally, I love dancing. Any time music plays, I have an irresistible urge to move. But there is a lot that I resist doing out of fear. And I’m eager to see Childs’ evocative and hilarious one-woman show. I think her humorous and self-effacing portrayal of her own irrational fears is an invitation for all of us to embark on whatever path both scares and excites us.

The show, which will be in Philly for a single night will take place at 8:00 p.m. on March 20th at the newly-christened Manayunk Performing Arts Theatre at Venice Island, in the heart of Manayunk and within walking distance from a myriad of local bars and restaurants. 

I’ve already bought my ticket and, when the show starts, I’ll try to refrain from dancing in my seat.

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