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  • Angela Allyn

BARE does not expose a lot

If you loved naked boys dancing, prancing, singing, and doing nude gymnastics on stage, then BARE is ideal for you. Director Thierry Smits created the dance work ‘Anima Ardens’ in 2016, and in BARE we trace his 11-month process from auditions to opening night to create a performance piece featuring 11 nude men.

Why, might you ask? Well, it is not clear, as the resulting film is sometimes cringe-inducing. From the first auditions, cameras are recording the process, with some actors incredulous they are being asked to perform nude with cameras rolling, even though they have not yet been cast. Similar questions continue throughout the rehearsal period.

The only real choreography the actors are taught comes from Marta at their first audition. The rest of the time, Thiery suggests themes for the men to perform in their movements – giving birth, isolation, power struggles. But without an expert, the resulting movements are at times beautiful and at other times cause injury. What director/choreographer would have actors stand on top of each other without careful rehearsal?

Strangely, the full dance piece can be viewed on Vimeo from free at It is performed on a bare white stage with no lighting effects, and the score and movement are pretty basic. But I would recommend watching that instead of the documentary.

Aleksandr M. Vinogradov is credited as the director and screenwriter for the film. None of the actors seem to have any professional credits and are never properly introduced or credited.

Those who chronicle the history of LGBTQ performing arts acknowledge that naked boy plays and musicals were a much needed tonic two decades ago after years of dark and distressing AIDS work on stage. But today, times and standards have changed, and BARE seems like a cheap trick for a lot of lingering camera work on male bodies.

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