Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Magic at the Peepshow and Striptease Charm School

"Now you're looking for the secret…but you won't find it because you're not really looking.  You don't really want to know the secret… you want to be fooled." - Harry Cutter, The Prestige

Since I was a little girl, I was a huge fan of magic.  I watched almost every episode of The World's Greatest Magic and Breaking the Magician's Code, and I wanted to see Siegfried and Roy when my family went to Vegas.  I was also into fantasy and, in my later years, witchcraft.  See where I’m going with this?  When Texas Burlesque Peepshow announced that they were going to do a magic-themed show, "I Put a Spell on You", I was only thinking of illusions.  Then, the producers clarified that it encompassed all definitions of magic, and I realized that hey, I have an act from a magical girl anime.  (Tuxedo Mask has powers too, but the original anime doesn't make it very obvious.)

Backstage shenanigans
at the Peepshow
Photo from Black Mariah
In my post about the act's debut, I forgot to give proper credit to Black Mariah for making the tuxedo pants so I'm doing it now.  They're perfect.  The Companion also gets props for helping alter the cape.

It didn't take long for me to get ready even with the attempt at styling my hair a bit differently.  As a result, I was able to peek at some of the other routines.  I really enjoyed seeing all the forms of magic and magical characters, and I hoped that at least some people would make the connection with mine.  I heard a laugh when I decided to wear the signature mask for curtain call so someone must've gotten it.  It was a fun show and an even more fun after-party (Casidy gets mad props for being an amazing host).

My hamstring had not completely healed like I thought it would by the time Peepshow rolled around (one month after the injury).  I had booked a couple more shows and vowed to stick to them unless the doctor said otherwise.  After discovering that the injury was just a pulled muscle, she okayed the dancing.  Since pushing myself landed me in this predicament, I wound up taking a break of all dance classes except Ginger Valentine's Burlesque Charm School.

Ginger was my first burlesque teacher (three and a half years ago!), and I had wanted to do her Charm School since she started it back up again.  I hadn't been able to until August so I wasn't going to miss the opportunity.  Class didn't just involve dancing, which probably made it more manageable.  However, I didn't do myself any favors by electing to work on a routine that required some chair and floor work.
A peek at my notes from Charm School

The routine was one I had previously worked on so the costume was mostly done.  I didn't really like the initial version, and it seemed producers didn't either.  It was the one that I needed the most help even if it wasn't the most urgent one to complete.  Some people might think that Charm School is specifically for classic burlesque or dancers at a certain level, but Ginger is really good about tailoring the class to fit everyone's needs.  Her advice is helpful regardless of your style or goals, as are the dance moves you learn.  I highly recommend Charm School for anyone who is ready to take their burlesque to the next level (though Ginger likes to point out that burlesque really has no levels).  While the act is not yet complete, it's become so much better and I can't wait to get a little free time to finish it up.

Before that, however, I have one more performance for the month.  If you missed Tuxedo Mask at the Texas Burlesque Peepshow, you can catch him at Tuesday Tease.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Tacos and Popcorn: San Antonio Burlesque Festival and A Film Strip

"It's a battle between body and mind.  Sometimes you have to make yourself slam once, even if you fall pretty hard." - skateboarder Andy MacDonald

The past couple of months have been a rollercoaster, and I'm still on the ride.  However, I wanted to take a bit of time to write about my experiences.  July was spent doing Tuesday Tease and rehearsing with Fuego Danza Company.  We were accepted in the San Antonio Burlesque Festival's Saturday Night Spectacular.  Because it was our first festival as a troupe and we were competing, we spent time tightening the choreography and making sure the new line-up got all the steps down.  Everything went well for me until the week before the festival.  I pulled my left hamstring…putting on dance shoes.

Photo by Sheridan Original
It sucked.  Taking inspiration from the X Games (which was probably not the greatest idea since I later paid for this decision), I made up my mind that I was going go all out even if I would have to hobble off-stage afterward.  I tried to take it easy before show time, but we had a few rehearsals left. 

As I said, it wasn't the best move, especially with our hectic schedule.  However, I still had a great time.  I got to bond with the troupe and see the friends that I made last year.  The workshop with Miss Indigo Blue on facial expressions was invaluable.  I even incorporated part of her lesson to my performance that night.

Unfortunately fatigue reared its head at the worst time: I blanked in the middle of our performance.  Although I recovered and the crowd loved us, I was still bummed. I tried to not think about the competition because that's how things become not fun.  All the performances were so awesome that it wasn't hard for me to just sit back and enjoy the rest of the show.  Fuego didn't take home a taco award, but that's okay.  Everybody worked hard, and I had fun.

Photo by Miracle Bennett
When we got home, I didn't have much time to rest.  I had to start rehearsing for A Plumb Askew Revue's Popcorn and Pasties: a Film Strip.  It was the first time I'd be performing my O-Ren Ishii act after I made some changes.  I had received some helpful critiques from La Divina after my Evil Queen performance, and I had tried to make revisions for the Dallas Burlesque Festival.  It wasn't quite there yet so I kept working on the routine.  Again, Indigo Blue's advice came in handy.

I improved a lot, but something felt off.  With a better sense of my identity as a performer, I'm not sure it fits my vision.  I won't put O-Ren to rest for good, but I’m going to have to think on this act some more.  Despite all this, I had a blast at Popcorn and Pasties.  It was fun geeking out backstage with friends, and Vivienne Vermuth did an amazing job on my make-up, which alleviated some of the frenzy.  I enjoyed watching how different movies inspired my fellow performers.  There was something for everyone at this show, and I'm glad I was a part of this diverse cast.  Check out the video by Lisa Loving.

I have at least one more post to write before I'm caught up.  In the meantime, I'll share more of Miracle Bennett's photos on my Facebook page.  Also you can catch me with Fuego this Friday at ¡Ritmo Caliente!  No samba group number this time, but I'll be debuting a new act.  Click here for tickets.