Issues Worth Dancing About... By Gena Oppenheim (Writer)
Recently, at a party to celebrate a show opening, talk was the usual theatre-centric fare: Sondheim, Summer Stock, Shakespeare. However, when I mentioned the upcoming presidential election, a girl in a turquoise tunic laughed, “What does it really matter? I mean they’re all the same, right? None of it really matters.” Others nodded and steered the conversation back to Ricky Martin and whether or not Evita could survive his absence. Cold sweat ran down the back of my neck. Turquoise Tunic’s statement was an affront to what has been ingrained in me since my first steps: politics is always personal.
Maybe it’s because my parents have always used protests as benchmarks for the early years of their marriage. “First anniversary? That was the same month as the Chicago Riots.” “When did we move to NYC? Around the time of the Columbia library occupation ” I’ve recently realized that I do that as well: "Eighth birthday? My first gay wedding." "Graduation from high school? First near arrest at an anti-death penalty rally."
On Thursday, The Affordable Care Act went into effect and I couldn’t help but grin. Not only because of the obvious; women would now receive free preventive care and coverage could no longer be denied due to pre-existing conditions (and even more stuff which you can check out here). No, I was grinning about a memory that came with a Bollywood soundtrack.
Last year, I was sitting in Riverside Park guarding backpacks, watching a group of “dancers” execute Bollywood-style moves while cheering on a dancing package of birth control pills. (Add in the fact that I was handing out hot coffee in 100-degree heat, and you have a typical Saturday in New York City.) That viral video we were filming for Planned Parenthood, to celebrate birth control with no co-pays, feels even more personal now.
The project was the brainchild of my brilliant friend Reshma Gopaldas (for Planned Parenthood) who was looking for a fun way to celebrate this victory for all women. The Bollywood theme fit, because, as the atlanticwire noted, “[a] giant dancing birth control case makes sense--she looks…liberated, happy to be free from the shackles of co-pays and deductibles."
Re-watching the video I felt a new resolve: the next time I encounter the disillusioned Turquoise Tunics of the world, I’m gonna throw up my arms and do an interpretive dance about discriminatory voter registration laws.
GENA OPPENHEIM Gena is a fourth generation New Yorker who teaches second-grade. She is a graduate of Barnard College and received her MFA from NYU Tisch's Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. http://twitter.com/#!/genabeans