Julia Kay on dance, pointing your toes and "Welcome to the Madhouse"

Why is the dance company whose "Welcome to the Madhouse" plays in Longmont this weekend called Point Your Damn Toes? Founder-director Julia Kay laughs. "We first started dancing together two or three years ago, and when we decided to become a company, I was bouncing back and forth among names," she explains. "Some of our dancers aren't technically trained, and there was a lot I'd remind them to do. I'd keep yelling, 'Point your damn toes,' and that became a joke, and kind of stuck." See also:Another 100 Colorado Creatives -- Kim Olson

"Welcome to the Madhouse" features seventeen dancers and is set in a brothel, where the performers, who range in age from 25 to 64, share their thoughts on sex, life, sorrow and desire. Each segment tells a story, each dancer has adopted a specific persona. "I had all the dancers write out their stories," says Kay. "Some of them made a complete fairytale, some stayed pretty close to themselves but found this alter ego." Among the "girls" are Lady Obession, Blaze, Cherry Tart and a few with names like drag-show stars: Felacia, Lucy Licious, Wicked Whiplash.

The participants include a teacher, a graphic designer and website developer, an optometrist, a massage therapist and a hospice worker. According to their bios, all have loved and embraced movement and dance in one form or another since childhood, whether they took tap classes as kids, were gymnasts or became high school athletes. One was a cheerleader, another worked with an equestrian dance company. Kay herself began her career in hip-hop and has trained in ballet, tap, jazz, modern and break dancing.

"What we do is hard sometimes," she says, "and it's a really good learning experience for me. Part of why I love it so much is the passion these ladies have. It's challenging for them to allow themselves to think, 'Oh, my god,I'm in this professional show.' It's the first show for some of them. I challenge the dancers; we explore the different levels they can reach with harder and easier choreography. The women I'm working with this season have been extremely open in letting the rest of us into their lives and sharing memories of what they've been through. The biggest most beautiful thing about this company and this season is how open and supportive everyone's been. We just fit. We're comfortable with each other, trust each other, and that allows you to open up and become the artist you want to be.

"I've always wanted to do a show based out of a brothel," she adds. "It's a taboo topic, a dark creepy place. I find myself a pretty sexual human being, and that's the most sexual place I can think of. But it's not all about sex. I get inspired by their stories, what they say, how they move."

"Welcome to the Madhouse" was funded through a Kickstarter campaign, and the $5,400 the company raised ($400 more than requested) is going toward expenses.

"I am so content with where I am right now it's not even funny," Kay says. "I've toured across the country. I went to L.A. and New York. I've had multiple dance jobs. But it's never been about money for me. It's always been the love of dance. So here I am now, with my own company, and it's amazing. It's beautiful."

See "Welcome to the Madhouse" at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 6 or 6:30 p.m. Saturday, June 7 at Dickens Opera House, 300 Main Street, Longmont. Tickets are $20; find more information at pointyourdamntoes.com.

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