Brandon and Virginia Pilgrim Ramey's "Commode to Joy"



Toilet paper probably is one of the main things people will bring up when they reminisce about the 2020 quarantine years from now.

Or maybe the fear of not having enough toilet paper. Empty grocery store shelves will come to mind.

Ballet Memphis dancers Brandon and Virginia Pilgrim Ramey addressed that subject in their video, Commode to Joy.

“That’s a play on Beethoven’s ninth symphony, often called ‘Ode to Joy,’” says Brandon, who produced and directed the video. Since the quarantine, Brandon has been making videos dealing with the travails of life during the pandemic.

Describing this video, Brandon says, “This was our reaction to very early on in the pandemic when we saw people posting on social media that everyone was going to the store and just grabbing up all the toilet paper and paper goods. We kind of didn’t believe it. We said, ‘We have enough toilet paper.’ We went to the store and the shelves were completely empty.”

Luckily, Virginia’s mom had some extra toilet paper, which she shared with them. “We thought this was one of the funniest side effects to people’s reactions to this kind of thing. I took that story line, fictionalized it, and made a dance to it.”

The video opens with Brandon on his way to the bathroom. “The camera pans and you see an empty toilet paper roll. And me holding the toilet paper roll. I hear all the news in my head about the run on toilet paper and I’m freaking out.”


He heads to their their local City Market. “I’m running through the store and I’m looking left and right. And they have plenty of toilet paper. I grab a roll. I’m so excited I can find toilet paper.”


The next scene cuts to Brandon running down the street with his roll of TP. “It’s unraveling a little bit over my head as I’m bringing it back to the house. Beethoven’s ninth symphony starts and I do a jump with the toilet paper and just start dancing for joy about how I found toilet paper. And Ginny joins me and she starts  dancing. It’s fun outside and a lot of room to move. Very energetic and exciting.


“The next thing you know, we get carried away with all this toilet paper. We’re happily rubbing it on our faces, juggling it, letting it roll over us.”

They get even more carried away. “We end up rolling the house. It gets stuck everywhere. It’s a mess.”

Virginia thought their extravagant use of toilet paper would be considered controversial, Brandon says. “Toilet paper is a rare commodity these days. People might be upset we’re wasting too much.”

But, he says, “We tried not to use too much. We pulled some of this off the trees and tried to roll it back on the roll. We’re actually using some of those rolls now.”

Brandon used the Norwegian National Opera Orchestra of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor. “The dancing was fairly pedestrian ’cause I was wearing jeans and we were in our sneakers. So I would call it a ‘ballet vocabulary adapted for a pedestrian wardrobe.’”

Commode to Joy, which — like their other videos — is posted on Facebook, probably is their most popular one because of the toilet paper crisis, Virginia says: “It was already such a funny, unusual situation for everybody to be in, to have this toilet paper shortage.”


People already knew it was going to be funny when they saw the title Commode to Joy, she says.

This is the first time she and Brandon have danced to Beethoven’s ninth symphony, Virginia says. “For it to be such a popular song, I don’t think I ever have. I know I will never hear the song again without thinking about ‘Commode to Joy.’”

To watch the video, click here:


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