Sunday, August 28, 2011

Dance Class Challenge: 49/100 - Healing Yoga: For Common Conditions

I had plans to hit some classes this weekend then discovered I split a toenail somehow and it's in such a delicate state I'm afraid it will break clean off in class and hurt like a mofo. Instead, I did a yoga video. I did another in this series and I really enjoyed both. It wasn't the fat burning workout that I really need right now, but it was gentle on my toe and I've noticed some improvement in my postures.
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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Four Years Ago Today

Four years ago today I returned from burlesque camp in Seattle with Jo Boobs and Miss Indigo Blue.  I knew that if I wanted to get somewhere in the world of burlesque, I had to train with the best.  Here is my blog of that experience from August 27th, 2007.  (It's amazing to look at where I was and look at where I am now, at least for me!)

Back From Camp Burlesque!

I returned from my burlesque retreat in the Seattle area today. It was quite an intensely educational trip! I'll have to cover my experience in bits and pieces since there's so much to say!

These two photos are from my first day. I was picked up at the airport by Jessica, an awesome gal who works with Academy of Burlesque in Seattle. She greeted me with a sign that said "Red Snapper." Awesome! I also met Fleur De Lys from New York and Miss Rosie Bitts from Vancouver since we shared a ride. This is a photo of the Space Needle from our trip around the city before we drove out to the wild blue yonder.

Through the luck of the draw, I managed to secure a bed in the restored 1964 airstream trailer. Most of the other girls wound up in tents. I lucked out. This is a photo of me celebrating my awesome digs.

We spent a lot of time getting to know each other, setting up "camp" and discussing famous burlesque performers. It was very educational.

As a heads up, I won't be posting any photos for which I don't have permission from everyone in the photo since that's the agreement we all made. But I do promise photos!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Dance Class Challenge: 48/100 - Crunch: CardioSalsa

I think I've finally learned my lesson not to do cardio workouts before bed.  You see, when I'm home for the night I like to kick off my shoes.  I wear crocs around the house so I can easily take the dogs into the yard (and I don't like having dirty feet).  I'm not going to put shoes on to dance in my living room at night unless I'm running a number.  Why did I decide to do the CardioSalsa workout before bed and with no shoes?  Because sometimes I'm an idiot.

Nonetheless, this is a fun video that gives you a flavor of Latin American dance (not unlike how Chevy's gives you a flavor of real Mexican food).  I didn't do as many jumps or cha cha steps because I wasn't wearing shoes for shock absorption.  I do appreciate that the cool down at the end still incorporated the dance moves covered in the rest of the video.

From here on out, any videos I do at home after the sun goes down are going to have to be yoga or Pilates.  (Let's see how well I stick to that one.)

Dance Class Challenge: 47/100 - Dance Off the Inches: 15-Minute Express

I really needed to get in some kind of dance activity before bed on Tuesday night.  I'd missed out on my noon walk in Beverly Hills and I had too much energy to sleep peacefully.  I decided to pop on a dance video through Netflix Instant that was low-impact enough for a late night.  This video isn't something I'd use for a regular workout, but it's great training for stringing together dance moves to create choreography.  If you're new to choreographing for yourself or others, videos like this one give you examples of how to piece simple moves together to create something interesting.  Sure, the point of the video is not to educate novice choreographers; that's an added benefit to doing videos like this.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

1st Annual Memphis Burlesque Showcase

To support burlesque expansion in my South (and since Memphis is three hours from my hometown), I'm a sponsor for this event.

Saturday, August 27 at 9:00pm - August 28 at 2:00am
Heaven Lee (AR)
Lysa Strata (TN)
Boom Boom LaRouge (TN)
Fatty McClure (TN)
Ro Manic (AR)
Sadie J. Byrd (TN)
Bre Von Buxxxom (AR)
Kat Malone (TN)
Frankie La Femme (MS)
Lady Doo Moi (TN)
Madonna Putana (TN)
Hunnee B. Hayve (TN)
Tata's Tada (TN)

With your host Rev. JJ Dizzle! With everyone's favorite stage butler, Johnson Pusspowerbottom!

And a very special appearance by Cherry Dame!
*Also, a surprise performance by Lola Vee*

*Most Classic* Most Innovative* Crowd Teaser* Best Newbie*

$ 8 Doors @ 9pm Show starts @ 10pm
The first 150 guest get a ballot to vote for their favorite "Crowd Teaser".

Look out for the Raffle Bunnies hopping around, we have some amazing prizes to give away!

Special thanks to our sponsors

Red Snapper (burlesque performer), Crazy Beautiful, Kiss Me Deadly Lingerie and

*A portion of the proceeds go to benefit the Burlesque Hall of Fame Museum*

Dance Class Challenge: 46/100 - The Trainer's Edge: Long & Lean Yoga

My work schedule has been a bit rough at the day job since I started working 40 hours a week.  Since I'm covering for someone who's on maternity leave, I can't really get off early enough to make it to some of the dance classes I really want to take.  There have also been those days in the past month where I wanted to do nothing more than fall asleep when I got home.  In an effort to fight that off and do something productive, I tried The Trainer's Edge: Long & Lean Yoga with Baron Baptiste on Netflix Instant on Thursday night.

I've dabbled in yoga, but this is the first time I heard the term 'internal heat' in reference to yoga.  The instructor talked about generating an internal heat while working through the poses.  This is the first time I experienced that internal heat.  I needed a 1980's sweatband to keep the perspiration out of my eyes while I was just standing there in a pose.  It was intense.  I didn't expect to get so hot and sweaty during a yoga workout.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Audience Is Always Right

I recognize that as a performer I wouldn't have a job if it wasn't for the audience.  I get booked because the audience doesn't have a mass exodus when I hit the stage.  I love them and respect them, and I try to keep my skill set sharp and expanding so they continue employing me.  This has always held true for me, even when I was more actor than dancer.  I recognize that they are there to be entertained, and that's the contract I agreed to when I agreed to perform for them.

I'm reading Magic and Showmanship: A Handbook for Conjurers by Henning Nelms.  I can't guarantee that you'll see any prestidigitation from me in the near future, but I am learning more and more about showmanship.  Here's a wonderful selection ripped from the book:
We cannot prevent individuals from jumping to foolish conclusions, nor should we worry much when they do.  However, the audience as a whole is always right.  Once it forms an opinion, the fact that this is completely unfounded is of no consequence whatever.
Let's take a look at this.  "However, the audience as a whole is always right."  There's some talent show on network television where performers get voted off stage within thirty seconds if the audience doesn't like what's being brought to the table.  Sure, a few people may be entertained but the audience as a whole determines the fate of the performer. 

And more from the magic man:
 This is a fundamental principle of showmanship.  When we offer to entertain--and convince--an audience and fail to do so, the fault is ours.  If the audience does not like our material, we cannot complain of its taste but must take the blame for choosing unwisely.  If the audience is stupid, we must find ways to be especially clear.  If the audience is inattentive, we must manage to capture and hold attention.  An audience may be difficult, but there is no such thing as a bad audience.  Anyone who performs before an audience has undertaken to please that audience.  If he bores it, he has not lived up to his obligation.
Let me say up front that not every audience is as audibly enthusiastic as a Roman rabble at a bear-baiting show.  Some appreciate things quietly and process internally.  Not every show is a standing ovation show, but that doesn't mean the audience as a whole hated it.

Now that my disclaimer is out of the way, let's look at audiences in the world of live entertainment.  How about the audience protesting what's happening on stage by shifting in their seats?  That creaking is a sort of vote that what's happening on stage is boring.  (The creaking is a horrible and obvious sign of boredom, especially when you're on stage and you hear it happening.)  Unwrapping of candy, texting, shuffling loudly through the program, talking, bathroom breaks by an obvious chunk of your audience -- these are pretty good signs that you're not entertaining them.  I remember seeing Sting in concert in 2000, and a huge chunk of the audience made for the loo when he played his country song.  It wasn't the entire audience, but the amphitheater had obvious patches void of patrons during that song.  If he'd played country the rest of the night, I would've been one of the inevitable mass exodus from the show.  These are signs that the audience isn't being entertained.

I co-directed a show about a year and a half ago when the original director bailed.  I wasn't thrilled to add something non-dance to my schedule, but I'm a decent director and I didn't want the actors to be left in the lurch.  One of the two nights I watched the show with an audience, the entire front row walked out.  In the world of Equity waiver (under 99-seat) theatre, the theaters are so small that it's very noticeable when people leave.  In fact, this group was plotting their escape while the actors were acting their hearts out less than six feet away.  They walked out in the middle of the scene, almost brushing up against the actors as they left.  They also posted a poisonous review on Goldstar.  I can't blame them; the show wasn't amazing and they weren't entertained.  They spent money to see something interesting and we gave them the same low-budget Equity waiver theatre they could get anywhere in LA. (To be honest yet a dick, I wasn't thrilled to go see the show twice and I co-directed. I directed a show the year before and sat in the audience every night I was in town.  While the audience was small, they were always pleased with the show.  There were a few people who saw that show more than once.)

If the audience thinks you're "phoning in" your performance, they're not going to give a shit about how many hours you've rehearsed and how many times you've done it before.  They're not convinced.  If your performance is technically proficient but the audience isn't entertained, you might as well go home and masturbate in your proficiency before a mirror until you're ready to start involving the audience in your performance because right now it's all for yourself.  It's no good blaming your audience.  And here's me being a dick again: it's a real sister baby move to proclaim via social media how your audience sucked and didn't understand how hard you worked.  See my masturbation suggestion if you want to celebrate how hard you worked and not concern yourself with pleasing an audience.

If you're not stuck on masturbating as a performer, look at what Nelms says and consider how you can apply that to your own stage work, whether as an entertainer or an enabler (director, producer, etc.).  If it doesn't cause the reaction you expect from your audience, how can it be modified or improved to get that reaction?

Now get to entertaining the shit out of people!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Make What You Love

I'm revisiting "How to Steal Like an Artist," specifically because my husband suggested I listen to the supplementary podcast.  He talks about writing the book you want to read.  The same thing applies to burlesque or any other art form.  You have to create the kinds of things you want to see.  You have to work on things you love.  That's why I've been playing around in the world of glamorous costumes that come off in interesting ways; that's what I want to see.

So what do you love?  What are you going to make?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Dance Class Challenge: 45/100 - Jazz Dance

I love Bill. His class is so standardized. It's a great workout and I always feel challenged. Today we did a little hip hop combination. (I think Evie's jealous that she missed class. Also I did not get served.) I still feel like I need a remedial class in turns because my spotting and placement is miserable.
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Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday Night Tease! presents Summer of Burlesque

Monday, Aug 8th, 2011

Monday Night Tease!

Hosted by Rob The Balloon Guy

Performances by
Mercedes Laveaux
Red Snapper
Ruby Champagne
Judy Luck
Holly Go Darkly
Bella Luna & Billy Jean
Pyrra Sutra (Phoenix, AZ)

Bar Opens: 6pm 
Seating Starts: 9:30pm 
Show Starts: 10pm 

Cover charge for Aug 8th, 2011
$15 advance limited VIP seating through Meet up
$15 (tickets available at the door - seating is not guaranteed)

3 Clubs 
1123 Vine St. 
(Vine at Santa Monica) 
Los Angeles, CA 90038

No photography. Performers subject to change without notice. Plenty of free street parking.

21+, full bar, no food.

Need help?
Email Lili with any questions:

Reservations available for parties of six or more, 818-378-8866 or

Follow us on twitter: @MNTease
You'll get updates and flyers for discounts.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Dance Class Challenge: 44/100 - Drum Solo Choreography

Back in the olden days (2006 & 2007), I regularly took belly dance classes from Jamilla. She's my belly dance mama. I made my semi-professional debut as a belly dancer as part of her troupe, the Raq Stars. (I danced two group numbers and one solo for tips at Dar Maghreb.) I haven't really been involved in belly dance classes very much since. But Jamilla is teaching after a brief hiatus, and I dropped in on her class today.

It's strange returning to study with someone after a few years, especially when I've had students of my own since. Jamilla is a very nurturing teacher, and much of my own dance class warm-up is heavily influenced by hers. Some of the moves came back to me from muscle memory; others that I'd never gotten down were just as awkward as a few years ago. I got a great workout in class and was reminded of things I loved about belly dance. Of course, my zill work was just short of atrocious.

Jamilla is accepting drop-in students for $17.50 per class. Classes are Sundays from 1pm to 2:15pm until September 11th, and there's an opportunity to perform at a dinner show at Dar Maghreb.

I don't know if I'd be able to dance a solo at Dar Maghreb as a belly dancer for the showcase. My moves have become more sexualized as a result of doing burlesque than a family establishment like that might prefer. We shall see what comes to pass.
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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

MNT Photos of My New Pretties

S.H. Photo

S.H. Photo
Here are photos of the new costume.  I'm especially proud of the skirt; it took hours to sew and my greening technique worked.  I'm taking this act on my mini-tours over the coming year.  I'll share photos of the underthings later.