Armed with a grant from the Independence Foundation, Jennifer Childs declared war on her fear of dancing. Last year, the actress took advanced courses in Broadway, jazz, ballet, modern and hip-hop. The result — her one-woman-show, “Why I’m Scared of Dance” — lands on the Plays and Players stage this weekend.
“I am scared of dance. Like, really honestly scared of it. Every time I have to do it in a show — especially if it’s non-comedic — it’s just maddening, crying, sweating tenseness,” says Childs. “That said, it’s something I so wish I could do. I look at dancers and I just wish I had that gift.”
Anyone familiar with Childs’ work will expect pratfalls rather than pliés. After all, this is the co-founder of Philly’s self-proclaimed all-comedy theater company, 1812 Productions. But this time out, she promises to temper the heavy doses of irony with gentle moments of sincerity — even if she isn’t particularly looking forward to it.
“I wanted to be vulnerable. I hope a huge part of the show is simply entertaining. I mean, that’s who I am: I’m an entertainer. I’m a clown,” she says. “But to have the bravery to take off the clown paraphernalia and just dance for you — that step was really important to me.”
Go big or go home
Childs chose quite the space to confront her fear: There are more than 400 seats pointed directly at her. “It was always important to me that it be a big space,” she says. “There’s something really funny about a small person in a big space. It’s just so presentational.”