This is my newest new number and I’m super happy how she turned out!!! I’ve been really trying to challenge myself lately and try styles that are out of my element aka le sexay dance. I’ve found alot of inspiration and strength from the archetype of an “amazon” or “wild” woman. It’s basically alot of fun and something I’m finding easier to relate to than a more classic style. Pretty princess/Glamour puss is less fun for me so far. Maybe I just haven’t found the right song or idea yet- we’ll see.
Buuuttt annnnyyywayyyyyyyyyyy- whats hilarious is that my original concept for this came after I watched the very unoriginal Burlesque movie. After watching the dancers do that hair flip for oh I don’t know, the fiftieth time, and I started thinking about how the hair flip is such a instrumental piece of choreography for that type of dancing. I started wondering if there was a way to play off that and make it more interesting. I did some research and found a type of “hair dancing” that has roots in belly dance and other forms of Arabic dance. I thought it was super inspiring and tried to create my own version of an erotic hair flip combined with my new favorite Jungle Lady character. The result was “Jungle Hair!!”
You’ll have to check the video out at Stripcheez.com- I’ve linked it for you HERE
and posted the Arabic Hair Dance vid I found inspiring below :) The photo is by the ever amazing Greg McKinnon.
Just wanted to post a really great link to a blog by Liz Goldwyn, a burlesque historian that has some awesome tips for sexy striptease! Reowr!!!
CLICK HERE FOR TOP 10 TIPS FOR A SUPER SEXY STRIPTEASE!
If you wanted to see what acts were my favorite for 2010, check out my other blog at Stripcheez.com. It was hard to pick but these were the ones that truly stood out and inspired me. There are links to videos of most of the performances as well!!
CLICK HERE FOR APRIL'S FAVORITE ACTS OF 2010
I hope everyone has an amazing holiday season and I look forward to an inspired and creative 2011!! Thanks for all the love and support!!!! xoxoxo
Ok then! This piece has become somewhat of a signature for me! Up until me Mime number, I felt that this was my best piece. I feel like its in a bit of a evolutionary stage at this point, but reflecting might actually help me figure out where to go with it next!
Unicorns. Oh Unicorns. So I’ve developed abit of a reputation as a crazy Unicorn lady. However, some people are surprised to know that this is not an infatuation that I’ve had since childhood. I actually HATE horses. HATE HATE HATE! So stompy and bitey and throwy. Fuck you horse! Ok so I got thrown off a horse when I was a kid and they made me get back on as a figurative and literal life lesson. I wanted to watch Duck Tales! So pissed. So very, very pissed. Anyway I just don’t like ‘em. Think about it... who paralyzed Superman? AN EVIL EVIL HORSE! So how and why am I making such an extraordinary exception just because it has a horn?? IRONY my friend. The idea of Unicorns and their magical majesty cracks me up. What is more magical or precious than a Unicorn? Mother Effing NOTHING thats what!!! I also have a very special affinity for the children’s movie “The Last Unicorn.” You know how you have 12 movies that you watch when you’re a kid. Over and over and over and over and over. And over? Ya we watched this one alot. This movie made a serious impression on me as a child and I still think its all kinds of hilarious and awesome to watch now that I’m an older child. I also had a boyfriend of April’s past start a “Who has the best Unicorn profile pic” on Myspace about 4 years ago. Yes. Myspace. And the whole thing was hilarious. Unicorn Love solidified. To further prove said love, I had a Robots vs Unicorns birthday party. There were about 30 different variations in Unicorn costumes so I had lots of inspiration to work with after that. Burgundy Brixx even came with a single staff of corn on her head. AHahahahah! Brillz!! After all this, It just seemed obvious that this number HAD to happen- and so it did.
I chose the theme song from The Last Unicorn, which in case you haven’t heard, is epically ridiculous. I found inspiration for the choreo to this tune in my lyrical jazz dancing past. I think this was also at the time when I was more apt to be doing too much jazzy choreo instead of teasy stuff. I’m wondering if I should replace the first song with a more classic Bulesque feel but then I’d probably need a new song. Dilemma!! I think the silly lyricalness of the first part of the dance actually works out quite well overall because it almost becomes a satire of all lyrical pieces and how infinitely cheesy they can be. I also found inspiration from the 80s movie Fame. You know how you have 12 movies that you watch when you’re a teen? Over and over and over and over and over. And over? We watched that movie over and over again at me olde dance studio between classes. After the 100th time of watching CoCo decide its a good idea to go to a “producers” house for some test “filming”, we started to PSA the younger kids about it. Whats a bad idea? Thats a bad idea. So creepy!! But reenacting that scene as a Unicorn is one example of how incongruence can make two conflicting subjects very very funny.
I’m abit stuck with how I want to develop this number. Do I switch up the first song? Do I keep it in all its cheesy glory? I have since developed a confetti cannon horn that shoots confetti when I, erhm, get excited at the end. I also need to spend some time and love on making the entire outfit prettier. If you have any thoughts, please feel free to let me know!!! In the meantime, please enjoy my Unicorno.
We did it!!!! Yay!!! Greece does Grease has finished its 2 week run and the reviews were great!! Oh my gad YAYYYY!!! We can say that we were a critical success! I honestly was in tears when I read Colin Thomas’ review in the Georgia Straight. Serious tears. I was so happy!!!! The blurb about the choreography from the Straight reads as follows:
“Thanks partly to the energetic choreography of April O’Peel, the big group numbers have the most sass. In my favourite, “Vile Underworld”, the demonic chorines wear tiny aubergine tutus, glittering black collars, and spider-shaped pasties. So far, I’ve enjoyed every show I’ve seen in which the chorus members wear spider-shaped pasties.”
YAY! Like I mentioned in my earlier post- I can’t take credit for all the choreo as we work really well collaboratively. HOWEVER the one dance that I can say IS mine all mine was the Underworld dance and that a good chunk of the Choreo in the large numbers came from me. YAY!! The other really great review the choreography received was from PLANK magazine. It read:
“The dances have been choreographed by April O’Peel, and they are hilarious, not to mention ‘in your face’, as the ideas that we are often only alluded to in main stage productions, are overtly played out in front of us with no holding back! And it’s clear from the very beginning that the performers are having a ball!”
Now Vile Underworld was a new piece since the first incarnation of Greece in February. We needed another number to portray how Persephone was coming into her own in the Underworld. And the direction was for it to be sex-ay! This was a fun challenge for me because I’ve been typecast (by myself as well) as the weirdy funny one. Alot of my strongest pieces have been comedic in nature so this was a chance for me to prove my abilities in terms of more erotic choreo. And I think I did pretty okay!
The song was chosen for me. It had to be from Grease 1 or 2 and to be honest- there wasn’t alot left that we hadn’t covered already!! We settled on Grease is the Word from the opening credits of the original Grease. Step one. Check. Now for my influences I must must must give credit to my friend and mentor Melody Mangler. No other person has taught me more about the art of erotic movement. Except for maybe one other. Now don’t laugh- but as a teen in the 90s, my Madonna was Britney Spears! So maybe you don’t like the music, and ok she kinda lost it there for abit but the girl in her day had MAD sexy dancing skills. You can see a homage to a piece of hers in our dance. I seriously have been waiting about ten years to use it for something. Oh my god, hot!!! I also found inspiration in the warm up for my Luciterra Tribal Fusion bellydancing class I’ve been taking. During the class I found myself thinking that certain yoga stretches we were practicing would look pretty sexy if they were to be used in a dance. See if you can find them in the preview below!
Overall I am really happy with the number! I’d say my weaknesses were that some of the moves might have looked like I stole them from a Carmen Electra workout video (cheese my friend. total cheese.) and my usual issue with not enough emphasis on the tease. I will point out that they weren’t wearing much to start with and we didn’t receive the costume pieces for Miss Fitt until after the dance was finished. Excuses, excuses- but I hope you enjoy my attempt at the sexy!!! I want to again thank all the cast and crew for all their hard work and especially the ladies of the Underworld Dance for making me look so good!! Reowr! xoxox!!!!
Greece does Grease! This is one of Screaming Chicken’s Big Deal productions! We are attempting to take a classical Burlesque play, one which parodies popular theatre (in this case, one of the world’s most successful musicals), to a larger, more upscale venue!! We’re going to the West side bay-bee!!! EEEE!!! I will admit to being slightly terrified. Yes, we did this last year with SHINE: a Burlesque Musical, but alot of the production efforts were lead by the amazingly talented super singing duo The Wet Spots. We learned sooo much from the last run! I definitely did anyway! I was asked to take over the choreographer position from my ultimately awesome super talented compadre Melody Mangler for that run. I am definitely tried to take what I learned from that awesome experience and apply it here! I’ve found it important to try and be organized, to have some freekin faith in my and the cast’s abilities, and to keep positive. Long rehearsals are hard on everyone and I’ve been trying to keep things light so we all don’t want to kill ourselves as much. Fear has been trying to play into things here as this is one of our first attempts at making it on our own at this scale without co-producers. Melody Mangler wrote the play, Violet Femme is directing, and I’ve been in charge of the choreo. One of the reasons SHINE was so incredibly awesome was that it ultimately had some really deep and meaningful messages about Burlesque that we were able to convey to a mainstream audience. This play is pure Burlesque! All parody, all satire, annnnd alot of dick jokes! I’m hoping that this will translate and the audience will be able to enjoy a play with adult humor that is ultimately 100% pure titillation. I’m pretty sure they will! One of the great things about comedy is that if you can make people laugh- you already won half your battle! Its hard not to like something that makes you feel good! Laughing is Awesome!!!
It has been hard for me to assume the title of Choreographer for this project because in truth, most of the pieces were done collaboratively. I can’t say the entire thing is my vision and my vision alone because that simply is not the truth. We work really well together and I think usually the pieces that result are stronger because of it! But this is not to say I haven’t been working ridiculously hard in my position. I have been to more rehearsals that most cast!! I think a more honest title for my position would be Dance Director or Choreo Realizer. I have been cleaning and directing and choreographing nonstop for the last month and to be honest- It looks good. I feel good! I am proud of our efforts!
I have found inspiration in lot of places for this production! The majority being from different Musicals I have loved over the years and the original Grease productions. Back to School from Grease 2 is one of my favorite ensemble pieces ever!! I am always inspired by large group numbers that can use simple movements but end up looking powerful through unison and performance. I tried really hard to encourage both of those with our cast. To remember the choreo from the last run we were lucky enough that we had footage to refer to. It had been filmed from the balcony of the Wise Hall so I really ended up with a birds eye view and was able to deduce a few things. One of them being that even if the movement is simple, its better if its bigger!! If say an arm circle was required, I would direct for it to be larger! Higher than your head! Just makes everything seem more grand and exciting! It doesn’t have to be harder- it just has to be bigger! The second thing I noticed was that I needed more elaborate shapes. It was harder to work with a larger group just based on my experience with smaller ones but it was a fun challenge. Simple things like turning 2 lines into 4 made it seem like more was going on and felt less boring. I also found it a fun challenge to try and get different groups moving differently at the same time. More going on=more fun to watch! Overall I am really pleased with the results! I hope for more opportunities to apply what I’ve learned working with such a large cast to other big group numbers in the future.
That being said, come check out our show!! Its very awesome! Greece does Grease is running Oct 7-Oct 10 and then again Oct 13- 16 at the Waterfront Theatre. You can buy tickets here http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/131168 and find out more info here http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=149099188462081&ref=ts.
Below is a clip from Dress rehearsal of Persephone of the Nympths, a Trailer for our play, and a vid of Back to School from Grease 2! Enjoy!
Alot of Burlesque (in my very humble opinion) has to do with imagination; whats your story!? And how does it consequently play out! You need to use yours and make the audience use theirs in order to create something worth watching; something that is entertaining!! A formula we like to use when explaining how to create a fantabulous Burletta of yer very own is the ole’ set up, build up, and pay off. You want to create expectation, build tension, and then resolve your story with the biggest bang possible (this usually involves boobs..SHA-POW my friends.. shhhaaaa-pow!!) In the last few years we have used this formula when creating short sketches to be slotted between acts; the Bananas being a regular feature but we have also tried other characters. Usually we will have a reoccurring scene happening about three times throughout the show; the first two being shorter in length involving just one gag or a reoccurring gag. Either of these will then escalate during the third scene. A set that I have particular fondness for are the Bugs!! I swear we must have been really really high on life when we decided that this was clearly the funniest thing we had ever thought of. I really enjoyed this set!!! This was party because of how silly the characters were. They were so much fun to play! I’m serious!! Go ahead and act like a bug for 2 minutes and see how happy it makes you!! The scenes featured myself, Sister Madly and Whats-Her-Name as a Bee, a Lady Bug and I guess a Stink-Bug?? You'll see what I mean. The first 2 sets were short and featured happy bug dancing with terror from a lawn mower at the end. The lawn mower was our reoccuring gag within each dance. I'm not quite sure it really came across but maybe if I let you in on that detail you'll understand what the eff we are doing!!!!
The other reason I feel warm feelings in my heart about these skits involves the choreography; I honestly do not know what this style of dance is called? I call it “wocka-wocka” dancing. Its basically influenced by what I think comedic or soft shoe dancing at a Vaudeville show looked like. Something I can only reference by what I’ve seen in cartoons, on the muppets or in Musicals. I would love to know and learn more about what it is I think I’m doing!!! The closest I’ve seen to it would’ve been at this years BHOF on Legends night when Rubber Legs performed! Oooooohhhh myyy gooodd!!!! I can’t even describe it!! It was basically a comedic dance where he was pretending to be drunk but was dancing in the most amazing way. Almost spilling his beer, spinning it around!! I can’t describe it- I just can’t! I have never seen anything like it ever!!! The closest I can find on youtube is Joe Frisco, who was an American vaudeville performer.
I seriously want to do this!!! . As far as I can tell, this is what early jazz dance looked like; Strange to think of its evolution between this and what I knew as Jazz dance aka the 80s. I’ve also found some super neat clips of the dance duo Al and Leon from around that same era! It's making me think that if I take some Lindy Hop classes, I might have a better idea where I want to go with this.
I honestly have the goal of trying to do a comedy number that emulates this style and doing it really well and having it be super high energy. I want to be someone who is cool enough to do a tribute number to Rubber Legs one day! I guess I will just have to stalk the shit out of him at next years BHOF haha! Until then, I leave you with the bugs; which is definitely less technically adept but hopefully silly enough to compare on the fun scale!
This number came together sooooo easily for me. Sometimes the process of what I’m trying to do will take quite abit longer to get together.. but this one? I guess its all my experience as an aspiring crazy cat lady.
I was inspired firstly by the song. It reminds me of the scene from the 80’s childrens classic, “The Last Unicorn” where the bumbling magician Schmendrick accidentally brings a tree to life and it basically starts to rape him. I’m sorry but tree rape IS funny!!! I essentially felt the song demanded that type of Elmyra character and proceeded to find inspiration in the relationship between me and my cat Joey Lawrence. I love Joey.... but Joey does not love me!!! WHY WON’T YOU LOVE ME YOU BASTARD CAT!!! WWWHYYYYYYYYYYY!!!! It turns out that cats do not like a.) pretending they are mink stoles b.) playing Angelina and Maddox or c.) being clenched tightly by a love barnacle such as myself. Stupid Joey. So yes.. the desperate wanting of a cats love I am familiar with. I just used a sketch formula that I learned from the super awesome amazing Morgan Brayton to beef up my storyline.
Basically what I learned is that every sketch, which like comedic burlesque is a short, self-Contained, scripted, hilarious scene. This scene needs to exist in a comedic reality. Anything can happen here (as long as its funny)!! And within your story you need a premise, some complications, an ending. In my story the premise is that I’m a crazy cat lady (yaaah.. the premise is that i’m a crazy cat lady.. the premise...), my complication is that my kitty does not love me as much as I love him, and my ending is.. well I’m going to make you watch the video!! HA HA!! Now I do love my kitty but I will say I haven’t yet reached the level of insanity where I would actually do any of these things to any cat that my character does in my ending (just the level necessary to think it is really really funny..); but I also learned that in your comedic reality the best way to find your ending is to let the situation escalate and you will find your answer there. How would your character react to the conflict? You will also probably be able to note my reference to the crazy cat lady from the Simpsons. A little homage to one of my favorite comedy shows and probably the best crazy cat lady ever.
So in closing, I post pictures of me torturing my cat and the wish that you enjoy this small glimpse into my future. For more kitty-cat antics, please join me and the rest of the Chickens at this weekends edition of the Taboo Revue. I will be performing a sort of follow-up piece to this number. I KNOW YOU CAN’T WAIT!!!
Yes I seriously called it that!! Did you get it?? Like Sunday Bloody Sunday but more haha?? Oh nevermind.. but annnyywayyyy.. once of my finest accomplishments to date has been the masterminding of our entry into the Burlesque Hall of Fame entry for the 2010 pageant. This was one of the largest and most elaborate undertakings I have ever attempted. We wanted the number to be available to anyone who was interested in heading down to Vegas aka another all inclusive number. Little did we know that over 30 members of Screaming Chicken would end up in Vegas this summer. Our number consisted of 23 performers from our membership!! You read me correctly... twenty freekin three. Insert migraine here. Ok it wasn’t that bad but there were definitely some challenges. Most of them involving scheduling, performer abilities, me spraining my ankle, and a last minute change in choreography. At one time there was to be a singing section but, c’est la vie, it didn’t pan out- this is were we learned to be adaptable and we created a new section of spoon-wielding-malt-shopping cute faces. Overall we made it through (somehow) and I’m pretty sure we did alright! Being accepted to compete at all was an honor and I’m pretty sure everyone had a blast performing for their contemporaries and heroes.
Now I had never been to Exotic World before but it was my understanding that the majority of the acts that are entered and that do well consist of a classic style. I had been doing lots of research on Burlesque history in the last year for my ABCDD’s of Burlesque blog and I had plenty of ideas I wanted to incorporate. The actual idea of an ice cream sundae number belongs to Melody Mangler; I just took the frame of the idea and interpreted it thusly.
We figured out awhile ago that the best way for us to do jumbo group numbers is to break the group into 3 or more sections. This way, no one will need to remember more than a minute or so of choreography and hopefully ensure the number will look nice and tight! My big vision was that we would have 4-5 groups representing different parts of an ice cream sundae and different elements of Burlesque history! A three minute homage to the past!
Now originally, we had some grandiose plans about a singing section. They were to be dressed as malt shop employees and singing in 4 part harmony with live accompaniment. OoLaLa! The song we used, had been chosen for the group by the talented songstress Nicky Ninedoors; “My Sugar is so Refined” by the Hi-Los. I had been having the worst time trying to find something that had to do with ice cream and had a vibe I felt I could create to so I was SUPER grateful that she had found something. Unfortunately plans fell through for our singy types so I made the decision to use canned music and slot the malt shop kids into the already choreographed number! This was... tricky. I was a little less inspired with their group in terms of Burlesque history due to this development. Ima all like “uhhh.. you can have giant spoons!!! ya!!! thats what we need... giant prop spoons to eat the sundae with...” In retrospect I can say that this element had definitely been inspired by the giant prop everything trend that is currently so popular so really, it ended up being a nice combo of old meets new! Perfect! I also must give ample credit to the infamously adorable and innovative Joanie Gyoza for building us our spoons!! THANK YOU JOANIE!!!! I LOVE YOU MORE THAN A NARWHALE LOVES THE ARCTIC SEA.... WHICH IS ALOT.. CUZ HE WOULD DIE IF HE DIDN’T HAVE IT.. SO YA..ITS ALOT!!!!!
The first group to enter originally would’ve been the Ice Cream girls! I had this vision of how we could use flip skirts to create the image of ice cream scoops. If anyone was asking me.. I thought this was pretty fecking clever. But really..I say vision. Not skill to make. I like me some dancey dancey. I HATE me some sewy-sewy. For these imaginings to take place we desperately need the skills of Andra the Diamond Minx. Andra took charge as our costuming director. And she was AMAZING!! Oh my god the hours she put in.. and the patience she had working with us! She managed to direct even the most useless of us tailor types into becoming functioning Sergers (I USED A SERGER!!OH EM GEE!!!) as the Coop became some sort of really pretty sweat shop. The element of Burlesque history I had been influenced by with the Ice Cream ladies were Zeigfeld style showgirls. Lots of pageantry and elaborate costuming. Classy ladies!!
The next ingredient in our sundae just happened to be the sauce! I had wanted to showcase bump and grind golden era movements combined with a Bellydance aesthetic, both important parts of BurlyQ history. A mutant combo of bump and grinders with scarves basically!!
Next came the Bananas!!! Turns out we are making a banana split!! Boo-ya!! This seemed especially obvious to us as Screaming Chicken already had their own resident banana group! The bananas usually consist of meself, VaVa Vunderbust, and Joanie Gyoza. The bananas are always up to their banana-sleeves in high-jinx and tomfoolery during Taboo Revues!! Their wacky styles seemed a perfect element to incorporate in order to pay homage to the wocka-wocky style of the baggy pants comedians. We didn’t realize it at the time but it ended up being even extra more perfecter (I know.. perfecter is not a word.. but it was!!) when we found out that Vaudeville comedians were often ranked as “Top Banana”, “First Banana”, and “Second Banana!!!” How perfecter is that!!?? It ended up working out better in terms of man placement to have the ultimate Super-vaudevillian Sex Luthor take my place as a banana. Altho I was sad to see the bananas having fun without me, he did a super awesome amazing job!!! All the bananas gave great face!!!
Now what sundae is complete without whipped cream and a cherry on top!? The casting in terms of these parts was pretty easy. Combine our tallest member, Duncan Teabags, as the whip cream man... with one of our most petite and not to mention ginger, Voodoo Pixie, as the cherry on top... and we have ourselves an Ice Cream Sundae!! I wanted our final picture to be a throwback to the epic Tableaux Vivants of yesteryear. Now... my one oopsie was that I didn’t realize we could just ask them to lower the curtain on our final pose and be done with it. I DIDNT KNOW!! sigh. And one of the items on the judging criteria was:
Entrance to and Exit from Stage: Don’t forget that first and last impressions count!
That is copied and pasted right from the flipping application people!!! So I orchestrated this really nice exit for each of the groups, one group at a time, so it didn’t look like a complete clusterfuck of 23 people tromping off the stage. Like really.. it took me 3 minutes just to get them all on there! But this took an extra 30 seconds in a pageant that runs about 6 hours... everybody just wants shiz to get going right fecking now. Soooo unfortunately..we looked like assholes. Miss Astrid made fun of us. Fuck. IT’S ALL MY FAULT!!!! I’m sorry team. I thought it looked nice.. and really... our number was 3 minutes long.. everybody elses ran at least 5!! Waah, Waah! In my defense, I would also like to add that I saw alot of people schlumping off after their acts. We may have looked like assholes BUT at least we looked like assholes who gave a shit about their exit. But jeepers, lesson learned! To everyone out there who is wanting to enter a group or even a solo.. LEARN FROM MY PAIN!! Just get them to lower the effing curtain...IT IS AN OPTION!
I really wanted this number to be an Ah-Ha! sort of thing. I didn’t want people to know right away what was happening..but have it all fall into place as the number progressed! The issue with this.. was that some people would have no idea what just happened. One reviewer called our number a “fever dream.” NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! I was devastated. I also think he might actually have been on mushrooms cause he describes Duncan as being on roller skates. Uhh.. no. I can see how you would.. no...actually I can’t. You are on mushrooms guy! There were no roller skates at any point! It does make for a better story tho. In another article however, they noted how it all fell into place for them... annnd she even said “Bing!” YAYYYYY!!!
I have to say that this number caused me alot of stress. I wanted so badly for us to do well. It was alot of pressure!!! And there were alot of setbacks.. alot, alot. Buuuut...ultimately I am happy with the overall concept of the idea. I am proud of how hard everyone worked and came together to create a really memorable experience. I also am grateful for the experience in that it taught me to be adaptable, how to be a better leader, the value of organization..and not to mention the extreme value in the help of your friends. Thank you so much to everyone who helped make the number a reality, to the performers for their beautiful performance and for putting up with me when I was being a freakshow! I love you so much and I couldn’t have done it without you!! Our baby might have looked like a hallucination caused by extreme fever to some, but it was our baby and I think he is beautiful!
Sooo.. all that said and done!! And I have no final video of our performance at BHOF!!! Boooo!! I am hoping its out there somewhere and that I can one day share it with you! You’ll just have to imagine it till then. History combined with the themes of fantasy, class, and inclusiveness within our group making our number a truly unique contribution to the pageant.
All Photos Courtesy of and Used with Permission from Don Spiro
Screaming Chicken Theatrical Society had been cranking out female burlesque performers through our signature program Becoming Burlesque for some time. But now... at long last.. it was finally time to see if there were enough man types out there daring enough to learn how to make it and shake it.
Lo and Behold the first graduating class of Becoming Boylesque! I ran this class with Boylesque champion, Evil Bastard in May of 2009. In just 6 classes we had turned the boys next door into a whole lot more! This was especially impressive considering the girls usually have an extra 2 classes to master their final group dance. They did an amazing job and have gone on to perform this number at a Taboo Revue and at the Vancouver International Burlesque Festival where they received a standing ovation!! Dang boys! Look at you now!!
Choreographing for boys is a whole nother ball game. Especially for untrained (mostly) hetero doods. I had to find a way for them to be able to dance but still look and feel cool and confident and possibly not too silly (at least until the end har har). Because I choreograph mostly for the female of the species, I had to make sure I was utilizing moves that didn’t come across too “girly.” I had to think about famous man dances and dancers and try to find a style that would be appropriate.
Now it was obvious to me at least that we wouldn’t be doing any Baryshnikov inspired pieces (at least not right away har har) and even Gene Kelly style soft shoe seemed abit ambitious for a first attempt at a group number... But then it occurred to me that I had desperately been wanting to do a Motown inspired piece for some time. The boy group dancing of that era would be the perfect fit in terms of simplicity and cool.
My inspiration for the first part of this number came from actual footage of the Temptations. You can see where I blatantly stole some of their moves for the boys. Evil Bastard suggested the second song of “Too Many Dicks” from Flight of the Concords and it proved a perfect contrast to the first song. I often use the ole switcharoo in choreography. First setting up the audience with a slower song establishing character-which in this case were super slick and suave manly men dancers. The switch occurs after they all start to compete for the attention of “My Girl,” and leads to some funny man dancing. As we teach in the class, comedy in Boylesque, is the fastest way to get the audience on your side. It can be really hard for a man to come across as “sexy” when dancing. It can be done, but its alot more challenging. Comedy is in my opinion a very major and necessary ingredient for most Boylesque routines. When you make your audience laugh, they will automatically like you because of it, and your job gets a whole lot easier. Besides, nothing is sexier than a good sense of humor, a dash of self deprecation and lets not forget about confidence!!! I was really happy with the end result and am proud to say that many, if not most of the boys from the class have gone on to enjoy successful performing careers within Vancouver’s Bur(boy)lesque community.
If you are manly or know someone manly who would be great at or interested in becoming Vancouver’s next Brolesque sensation, I will be co-teaching another session of Becoming Boylesque this October. I will be joined by the infamously dashing Boylesque ingenue Teddy Smooth and together.. we will guide... and teach you the electric slide!!! For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The second video is the one I used for blatant move stealing
Here is a link to their performance at the VIBF; they managed to replace dancer AND practice it up to tip top standards all by their lonesomes!! My doves have wings!! *sniff sniff
My adventures in Burlesque Choreography!