Monday, December 9, 2013

More Than Just Stripping

Now that I've filmed my routine (it got moved to last Wednesday because of Thanksgiving), I can resume blogging.  How many times have you used the qualifier "more than just stripping" when talking about burlesque?  I know I have, and while I mean no insult to my stripper sisters, burlesque does have a history that involves zero clothes being shed.  Last month I got to be part of a variety show that evoked the old time burlesque performances that had comedy, music, and sideshow acts along with the striptease.

Oops the Clown and The Famous Mr. Cheeze
By Josh B.

Because I work in a lab with early birds, I generally avoid burlesque shows that are on Sundays through Thursdays.  I've come to realized that I'm missing future opportunities and have decided to make exceptions. The first was "Look What I Can Do Variety Hour", which was presented in partnership with Clever Girl Cabaret.  In addition to wanting to stage kitten for the lovely ladies of Clever Girl and to see a different side of burlesque, I saw that the cast included a cute little dog named Mr. Cheeze. How could I resist?

Black Mariah told me to go circus for my outfit. At first I wasn't sure I had anything, but I started throwing together pieces from my closet.  I wound up using the bra i made for the pride parade, these whimsical shorts I bought in Taiwan that have been the subject of many butt shots, striped tights, and a mini top hat. It definitely was not practical for the cold front that had moved in, but stripper life isn't always glamorous. . . or comfortable.

One of the aforementioned butt shots
By Josh B.
The folks from Look What I Can Do were extremely friendly and helpful.  Ooops the Clown and Kitty Kaos actually wrote out a setlist (when we couldn't find a spare copy) and marked when they would need me to pick up. I was also impressed by their ability to adapt to many unexpected variables. When you have a tiny animal and audience volunteers, you need to be able to think quickly on your feet.  It's something I've talked about before, and I discovered that there's definite room for improvement.  Mr. Cheeze was just way too fast.

Ratty Scurvics doing curtain call
Photo by Josh B.
"Look What I Can Do Variety Hour" was a huge hit because everyone was over-the-top and had the crowd enthralled.  Since my classes focus a lot on choreography and technique, I've been trying to approach burlesque from a theatre perspective. Despite doing drama in college, acting is one of my weaker points, and I started to worry about that aspect of my solo routine.

Fortunately the Ruby Room held a workshop by Paco Fish that tackled character development and expressing emotions. It was just what I needed. Even though the exercises seemed simple, they managed to convey all the things I learned in theatre classes and doing plays in a way that made so much more sense to me. I needed something more tangible than thinking sad or happy thoughts for the emotion to come across on my face. Paco gave me a whole new way to view theatre, and it helped me approach my routine in a different light. I'm still working on making my facial expressions and gestures bigger, but I think the emotions translate across my face and body a lot better now. I'm also thinking that his workshop will also be useful in conveying emotions on paper when I get back in the habit of writing fiction again (which I plan on doing as I take a breather).

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