Saturday, August 14, 2010

Doin' Time

So many people in the performance arena are aware that you have to work your way up from the bottom to enjoy the cream at the top. Burlesque is no different. As a new performer you need to be mindful of other dancers that have been doing this longer than you have. That means being helpful, respectful, and out of the way (i.e. if you aren't performing- don't block the mirror/light/or dancers from changing)... and above all, if you don't know a dancer's name or haven't heard of her, DO NOT point that out to her. Just because you may have no clue who she is doesn't mean the rest of the Burlesque world does not and it may also mean that you don't attend enough shows. If you are working or performing- BE ON TIME. I have learned that this early in the game you have to put a lot of work into networking, listening, watching, and just plain good old fashioned being pleasant. This world is about women supporting each other, which quite frankly, doesn't happen as often as it should.

With that out of the way, let me share an amusing moment from when I was working Honi Harlow's "Harlow's Hide-A-Way", which is currently every Thursday at Fontana's on Eldrdige between Broome and Grand right here in New York City. It's August so audience can be fickle, so I was tickled 12 shades of pink when I walked into Fontana's last Thursday and saw about 60 people in the bar and Chandlelier room. Upon my arrival I also discovered that there were bands performing downstairs. As the people in the bar began to funnel between our show and the bands performing in the basement, I was charged with the task of separating and directing them where they needed to go based on what they were there to see. For about 5 minutes of this, it seemed that everyone was headed to the basement and becoming tired of that (I love music too but stripping women dancing to music vs. bearded sweaty men standing around listening and bobbing their heads... hmmmmm) I decided when a delcious quartet of men walked up to me to try to persuade them to stay upstairs.

So I asked them,

"Are you guys here to see the Burlesque show?," as brightly as I could,
"Or the Bands downstairs?" and I was 50% less bright with that last question.

All four started laughing at me and one cute one (out of the other four devastatingly handsome men) in a plaid shirt looked at me and smiled,

"We are the band."

The hilarity of this was not missed on me so I thought, oh sweet now I can hit on all them! Which I proceeded to do. Some of the banter continued as follows:

Me: "Oh well, you're gonna miss all the gorgeous naked women!"

Band: "How about we play and when we're done we'll come up and see the naked women."

Me: "By the time you're done playing all the naked women will be gone. We are a fleeting thing you know. We don't stay naked forever."

Band: "Are you sure? We love naked women and would love to see them but we have a show."

Me: "Well that's what happens when you put music first. All the naked women dissappear."

The slightly bearded, blue-eyed, dream boat in the plaid shirt threw back his head and laughed. "That's the truth!"

Then the fabulously handsome foursome made their way into the basement and for one brief moment watching sweaty bearded men play instruments was overwhelmingly appealing. Then Honi walked up in her fantastic red dress with a gorgeous rhinestone necklace. The sparkle from it called me back to the land of half naked women and glitter. Whew! That was a close one.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My First Performance

I had my first performance last night at the Delancey. It was at Wham! Slam! Bam! Variety Show! with Juliet Jeske. I had such an amazing time! Coming from a varied background involving many years of dance performance coupled with many years of acting experience I found this to be a new and wildly thrilling adventure. It was so different from either of those experiences:

1. It wasn't choreographed/directed by someone else. It was all done by me, so luckily only I knew that I almost completely forgot every single piece of my choreography and practically fell and was trembling through the whole piece.

2. It was a completely different style of audience. I was in direct connection with them. In most dance/theatre pieces, you are a different entity from the audience and only on rare occasions do you address them directly but it's even rarer to actually interact with them.

It was almost like a improv/dance/strip/character exercise. It was one of the most challenging things I've done in a long time and I think I did pretty well. I tend to be a perfectionist and want to constantly fix every little tiny detail down to the stitches I use on my costumes. I want all the information and pack my costume bag days in advance (because I, apparently, am crazy.) I cannot wait to get booked again and finally get my website going so people actually KNOW when I'll be performing and I think I should probably get some cards made... hmmmmmmm. I feel a photo session coming on...

Rehearse Rehearse Rehearse

Making time to rehearse is so difficult at times. However, magical things happen in rehearsals. You learn that if you don't stretch you can't move the next day, that sometimes you can really only do a move in your mind and that certain songs seem like a good idea until you begin working with them. That sometimes you have to cut props, stage business, and other non-essential bric a brac when pulling a piece together. That glitter does not always do what you envision and when that happens it's best to sweep it up and try again.

For instance, I wanted to blow glitter out of coffee cup for my "poison", to remind the audience that I did actually poison someone in the beginning of the number in case my breasts made them forget. When I rehearsed it the first time I blew the glitter out of the cup and most of it slid up the side and straight back into my face. Not exactly what I was looking for - me blind in 5" heels is not what I want to happen onstage if it can be avoided. So I had to stuff the cup with foam and create a cardboard "tray" of sorts and put the glitter on it (btw it made the cup look like it was FULL of glitter onstage) this was finally successful.

Creating a story isn't always easy and burlesque is really a way of telling a story through music and disrobing- eloquently. I want to tell my stories with specificity, finesse, and most of all surprise. I want the audience to get as excited about me taking something off as I am about taking it off and as excited as the music is about it as well. I've always viewed dance as a way of losing oneself a way of letting go and letting the music speak through the body. A physical manifestation of music or even just sound. But Burlesque isn't quite like that. It's highly aware, conscious even. A self-aware conduit of music and ideas.