Wednesday, February 20, 2013

burlesque, inspiration and failure

So, I was told at the last show by a wonderful, beautiful patron that she enjoyed my performances because I seemed to be very well versed in everything I did. If I'm going to bump and grind, I'm going to BUMP AND GRIND. If I'm going to put on a C-3PO mask, I'm going to BE C-3PO. I remember telling her that we don't half ass our shit, because every last member of that audience has paid to get in to see the show, and we are going to put on a SHOW. I don't care if you are center front row or corner last row, you are going to get what you paid for. Yes, I have failed, and performed dances that didn't work. That's part of the learning process. I was told once not to call mistakes mistakes, call them opportunities. Opportunities to learn something. Fortunately, making a burlesque mistake doesn't result in death, so I can make all the mistakes I want. Not that I like it. I'm always frustrated when I feel like I fucked up the dance and I didn't give the audience what they deserved. My main concern is the audience. ALWAYS. Did I screw up my dance so much that the audience feels cheated? I hope not. As we as a troupe have discussed many times, the audience also appreciates when we make a mistake. They love to see that we are human and we also have trouble getting our bras off, or getting our zippers stuck. You know when they screw up their lines on Saturday Night Live? Those moments are always my favorites. You just need to know how to cover for them. Master improv mistake coverer? Master of Improv in general? Strawberry Stems. That woman is a genius! She has so many fantastic tricks up her sleeve, she could entertain just walking on stage not knowing the song, costume, props, stage, anything. Another trick I use is audience reaction. I plan, choreograph, practice a dance, but if the audience responds well to one move more than another, I'll use that one. I use the audience reaction to guide what I do next. I can practice a dance all I want, but sometimes I'll get an idea from audience reaction about what to do next while I'm onstage. I suppose I should stop giving out all my secrets, I like everything to look so seamless! Ha. My favorite trick is to absolutely LOVE the song I'm performing to. Every burlesque performer gets inspiration in different ways. Some from color, some from costuming, nature, other stage performances, dancing, many different things. I'm inspired by music. Most of my dances are created from a song. And every song I've ever performed to is a song that I love to dance to. That way, if I forget every step I've choreographed, I can at least look like I'm having a good time. Because I am. And just watching someone have a really good time, and take off their clothes, is entertaining. I hope! That's all for now, my lovelies! Until next time... Love and cheese Danger Maus

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Yes. There is Burlesque in Alaska. Well, it's actually Brr-Lesque. Hi. I'm Danger Maus with VivaVoom Brr-Lesque. I am an original member and co-producer of VivaVoom Brr-Lesque, along with Lola Pistola. Originally the brain child of Lola Pistola and Cuba Libra, VivaVoom was founded in 2005 one stormy, drunken night. Oh, we thought we were so clever, "inventing" burlesque. Being so isolated from the rest of the world, all interwebs aside, we thought we were the first to do neo-burlesque. HA! Little did we know! However, for us, it was like we were the first to do neo-burlesque. We had no schools. We had no wild ladies that paved the bumpy road before us to teach us all the tricks of bumps and grinds. We had NO burlesque in Alaska. We had some old videos of Tempest Storm and Bettie Page and some music and other inebriates to inspire us. As well as each other. And there was no better inspiration than ourselves, these women, THESE WOMEN, comfortable, beautiful, powerful in their skins.
Myself, I was (still am) a painfully shy 25 year woman who was unsure of my body and uncomfortable with any type of sexuality. What a release burlesque was! I didn't have to be a professional, likeable, quiet, part of the background, perfectly mannered lady. I was Danger Maus (then mouse). I could crawl on the floor, drink, curse, wrestle with an alligator, and be proud of the body that I have and work so hard to keep. And especially not worry about what other people were thinking about me.
So, from the beginning we had nothing. We had no teachers. We had no specialty costuming stores. Why we didn't get on the internet and google "burlesque" is beyond me. Everything we learned, everything we have today is because we EARNED it. We taught ourselves. We hit every bump and figured out how to plow it down or go around it. Want an inspirational woman who knows what she wants and can figure out how to get it? Lola Pistola. She will plow down any obstacle in her way, but leave that obstacle feeling valued, beautiful, and honored to be flattened. Yes, this is the woman who started the troupe. Are we lucky or what? She has taken this town (and yes, it is small, around 300,000 people) and wrung it dry for venues, patrons, the most creative set designers, advertising and poster designers, dancers, and people you could find. Imagine doing this without help? No one to tell you to cut the tags out of your costumes! No one to make your costumes! No one to tell you which venues to work with! She figured it all out.
We've learned a thing or two since the beginning. Find help. It's out there. If you are isolated, it's on the internet. Costuming, books, videos, etc. Look for a legend, there is probably one around you. Find her quickly, you don't want to run out of time. If you can attend a festival or convention. They are worth every penny. We've also hosted a few out of town troupes and dancers, and they have taught us a lot. I am incredibly lucky to have fallen into one of the most wonderful, supportive, sparkly communities I could imagine.
Until next time...
Danger Maus