Thursday, November 21, 2013

Going Solo and a Hairy Predicament

Over the summer, I realized that I had to start thinking about whether I wanted to join a troupe or strike out on my own.  Belonging to a troupe provides a lot of resources and opportunities that may be hard to find.  On the other hand, I’ve always been a loner, one with a unique approach that might not fit a group’s aesthetic.  Plus my schedule and lack of car doesn’t always work with rehearsal times.

Then the question became: what would be my debut solo act?  I won’t reveal too much, but one of my favorite J-pop artists has a song that I really identify with.  It has moments perfect for both striptease and poking fun at nerdy tropes.  However, I didn’t want to fall into clichés, and I wasn’t sure my one plan to prevent that would work.

a sneak peek
I decided to sign up for The Dirty Blonde’s “Create Your Own Burlesque Routine” class, and it was the best thing I could’ve done.  Not only did I have another perspective on my vision, the class forced me to actually choreograph a routine and make a costume.  The latter was particularly important because I am a huge procrastinator and this costume wound up being a monster of a project.

My obsessive tendency to never want to waste anything, including a few inches of thread, has made sewing a terrible task to undergo.  In my attempts to avoid it, I wound up making some things more difficult.  Iron-on transfers are not the way to go.  I really have to thank my friend Tina and costuming goddess Black Mariah for all their help.  Also deserving of my gratitude is my partner who has shown me how to sew more than five times now and dealt with a few meltdowns over botched construction.  I did discover a love of rhinestoning.  My technique is messy, but I always feel accomplished after I glue a few stones down.  I also don’t find E6000 noxious at all.  Yay sparklies!

my first rhinestone job
As for choreography, the song’s looseness proved to be a challenge.  I’m so used to eight-counts and marking every single step that I got a little lost at first.  While there are still kinks to work out, I’ve learned that giving myself some leeway is important for when a stocking gets stuck or I forget a step.

This act has turned out to be really “cute”, a word I hate being called.  I just associate with bad memories and condescending attitudes of people who think I’m 15.  With this routine, I’ve learned to embrace my inner cuteness, but I’m redefining the adjective to better fit my identity. Nobody is going to confuse my burlesque for being an innocent little girl, and I want to challenge people’s ideas.

That being said, I came across another issue: body hair.  I had assumed I would shave, like I do for cosplay.  However, I really loathe the process and how women are expected to be hair-free.  It’s ridiculous, and if I want my performances to be satirical and provocative, what better way to do this than to defy beauty standards?  I don’t want to be conventionally pretty, and this routine isn’t classic.  At the same time, I know body hair is distracting (which is why I shave when I wear tank tops to dance class).  I don’t want to squash opportunities on such a trivial matter even though my sensitive skin is beginning to make this problem much bigger.  The community overall seems okay, but I don’t know about Dallas specifically.  I’m reminded of a quote from Ender’s Game that really kept me going during my rough adolescent years: “There's only one thing that will make them stop hating you. And that's being so good at what you do that they can't ignore you.”  The question is: as a newbie, am I good enough?

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