Thursday, October 10, 2013

Workshops and Pride

When the Dallas School of Burlesque opened in May, I was eager to check out the classes.  I still wanted to study at the Ruby Room, but it was time to expand my repertoire with the different styles DSB offered.  Plus it’s nice to get a different perspective on old bump and grind moves.

Over the summer, DSB offered two workshops: chair dance with Stephan and tassel twirling with Black Mariah.  In my many years of dance classes, I’d never had a male teacher until Stephan, the Southern Fried King of Burlesque.  He had a very free-spirited approach, which was just what I needed.  I’d been spending so much time focusing on being sexy, and I’ve always been a counter.  Both were holding me back, and I was happy to work on improvising and just feeling the music.  I could use some work on strength and flexibility, but I still learned a few chair tricks for a future routine.

my first pair of assels and tassles
made by Black Mariah
Tassel twirling was something I’ve always thought was cool even before I knew that they were part of burlesque.  I went into Black Mariah’s class a little bit cocky.  All that shimmying I did in Ginger Valentine’s classes must account for something, right?  Well, it turned out that my technique could use some work.  I had also placed the tassels too low at first, but I was also trying too hard to make my boobs move.  Ironically I discovered that I was better at shimmying with my arms held straight up, which is a more difficult position than with your arms held out.  As with hula and belly dance, I always seem to master a harder move before getting the basics down.  Black Mariah also taught us how to twirl assels, which was equally challenging and fun.

During the latter half of the summer, I started to wonder if I was rushing into things too quickly.  My double weekend of shows with the Ruby Revue and Lemme Addams’ Stardust Revue wore me out.  I also didn’t want to come on too strongly in my eagerness to stage kitten.  As a result, I decided to take the time to focus on classes and figuring out who Hana Li is.

Bellilona Fatin, me, Carmen St. Cloud, and Raven
By Lecroix Photography

That didn’t mean I wasn’t involved in other community activities.  When I learned that the Dallas School of Burlesque was invited to march in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, I knew had to participate.  I’d never been to a pride parade, and I really wanted to show my. . . well, pride in being queer and my support.  What better way than to march with friends in fabulous showgirl costumes?  The Dirty Blonde made costuming really easy for those of us who were busy.  We just had to pick a color of a rainbow, get a swimsuit (or in my case, a bra) the color of the rainbow, and embellish.  I picked red because I already had bottoms of that color from my Wonder Girl costume (and because it’s a common bra color).  However, I wanted to wear my socks that are the colors of the asexual pride flag: black, grey, white, and purple.  With some advice from Lily Lecroix and fringe from Black Mariah, I was able to add a bit of purple to my bra.  I also learned how to rhinestone.

Through both the costuming sessions and the parade itself, I got to know more members of the burlesque community.  It was hot and a long walk, but the energy and enthusiasm was unbelievable.  My only regret came from my feet, which did not like the long walk in my gold wedge sneakers.  Still, that was nothing compared to Jade Vivian and MayMay walking in real heels.  They definitely get my admiration.  Pride was a nice way to end the summer, and I even got a stage kittening gig out of it.  That’s a story for another post.  In the meantime, you can check out more photos over on my facebook page.
By Susan Migdol, EDGE Dallas

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