Like a fair-weather friend I am back again after promising my blogs would get more regular and then getting distracted as life got in the way. Over the last few weeks many occasions have arisen where I have found myself exclaiming – ‘I must blog about this!’ but between issues with internet access and busy times at home and at work it just hasn’t happened. Now I have so much stuff to blog about that I figured I had better get my act together and make a start – even if I don’t get it all down. So – here goes!
So, the first thing of note worth mentioning is that I have now completed the new act I was working on in the last-but-one blog (and it’s available to book – hint hint!). Incase you can’t be bothered to go back and read the past post, the idea for this act (or at least its working process) was to rest all the areas that had been stretched (almost to breaking) when I worked on the Jackalope and stretch different areas instead. The focuses of this act were: using music to convey emotion; physical performance and comedy; conveying mood through mime/clowning techniques; and in the costuming area – improving my grasp of colour theory and working quickly and simply without getting too bogged down. It was always meant to be a quick project and the goal was to finish it (once I got into the actual working stage) in a month. In reality I probably took a little longer than that but not much!
The outcome of this little experiment is my new act ‘The Emotional Strip’. I trialled it out at an event about a week and a half ago and I can safely say that it looks like it is going to be one of my favourites to perform. I didn’t allow myself to get bogged down or stressed out by it and I really feel that shows in the final product. It’s not the deepest or most complicated narrative or character work but it still feels like it fits within my repertoire and has an essential me-ness that I wouldn’t have expected with something that came together so quickly. Also, although I did not in any way want to be slapdash with the costume, I tried just to make it look fun and pretty but not to be too precious, it seemed that I didn’t make too bad a job as more than one person complimented me on it. I was most flattered that my friend and fellow performer (and photographer, and costumier, and all round busy boots!) Cherryfox said she felt that my costuming skills are showing improvement! Coming from someone who makes all their own costumes that made me feel quite chuffed!
I imagine that over time the act will probably need the odd tweak here and there, and I already have a good idea for another joke I can add to a certain part of it but over all I am really pleasantly surpised by how quickly and easily it has happened. I think in future I may try and reuse this quick and simple technique from time to time, especially if I find myself coming to the end of another act with a heavy workload and feel I need a break but still want to keep working.
In other news – I was going to blog about a very peculiar gig that I had recently but I think that it might tie in better with some other general stuff I planned to write about when I had the time so I think I will save that for my next entry. In the meantime, if you see me ask me about my interesting gig!
Next thing I couldn’t blog without giving a mention to is the adventure for the senses that was Delicious Burlesque in Derby. For anyone (or at least anyone who likes burlesque enough to bother with my blog) who has been living under a stone for the past couple of months, Delicious Burlesque is an absolutely huge burlesque all dayer with market stalls, workshops, a newcomer’s competition and a big evening show. It was held on Saturday 31st July and word on the grapevine is that it may well be becoming an annual event. Well, with an event this exciting practically on my doorstep I just had to go so my sister and I made plans to attend (and she event generously shelled out the extra tenner for VIP tickets so that we’d have a great view of the show!).
We went and we were not disappointed! The market had loads of exciting things to buy from the many talented makers and charming purveyors of glamorous goodies. My wallet forbade me from partaking but my sister bought a very fetching hat. I think we both could have easily spent a small fortune on all the lovely things. After perusing the market and popping out to one of the local pubs for a spot of lunch we went back to the hotel to get gussied up for the evening section of the event. I went for a silent Movie Era starlet, meets black and white Minnie Mouse, in black hotpants and braces, a white wife beater, a huge black hair bow and heavy black eye makeup and black lipstick with a pronounced cupid’s bow. Sis also went for a 20s inspired look including a gorgeous finger-wave hairstyle.
When we got back to the venue I went to a workshop I had pre-booked (more on that in a moment) and Alex went and got her portrait drawn by one of the talented bods representing Dr Sketchy’s Nottingham (it wasn’t Charlotte, not sure of the chap’s name!).
After that it was time for the seated entertainment. First came the newcomer’s competition. I have to say, I was amazed that the performers being showcased had only been performing a year. The costumes were gorgeous and clever, the dancing was incredibly accomplished (mind you, all dancing looks accomplished to me, but these were particularly good!) and the concepts were sophisticated. I don’t know how the judges came to a decision as there were so many acts that charmed me! I particularly enjoyed the quirky fun dance moves in Elle Amour’s cupcake act, the hilarious facial expressions in Jeu Jeu la Foille’s Mary Poppins, Peski DeVille’s innovative magic flowers and skilful fan throwing and Nix Le Noir’s gorgeous costume (especially the headdress!). All the performers were super and I don’t feel I could have competed with most of them despite having been on the scene somewhat longer.
The main show was nothing short of spectacular, and jam-packed with fantastic performances. Not that I’m a critic by my personal faves are as follows: Joe Black’s cabaret set had me laughing throughout and clapping, stamping my feet and generally behaving like a burlesque lager-lout and his Defying Gravity act was a treat. I have seen Joe on Youtube so much that I almost felt I had seen him live already but it turned out I had seen nothing yet. As much as I enjoy Joe’s videos it is no patch on seeing him live – his energy, inventiveness and charisma cannot be matched.
Vicky Butterfly performed two acts I had never seen before and reaffirmed her place in my heart as one of my absolute favourites. I was mesmerised by her graceful movements, innovative costuming techniques (I can’t really describe what she did costume wise as I don’t have the technical knowledge, suffice to say that it was really amazing!) and beautifully odd music selection. Vicky’s performances inspire me so much and make me wish I was more dancerly in my acts. Kittie Klaw from Ministry of Burlesque did a fantastic Rule Britannia performance that had me laughing one moment and feeling a little lump in my throat and a patriotic tear in my eye (and I never get patriotic, ever) the next. Finally, my other fave of the night was Beatrix von Bourbon. I have been a fan of hers for some time and watching her performances I was genuinely moved. I love the way her performances register emotion so clearly and really admire the fluidity and economy of movement she uses. Her Winter act I especially enjoyed and the audience was delighted at the finale of the act when it began to snow onstage!
I also had the pleasure of taking a workshop with Beatrix von Bourbon. On the subject of Burlesque Branding. I enjoyed the workshop very much found it left me with lots to mull on and also some practical goals to start tackling. I would recommend the workshop highly to any performer but especially if you feel you need a little help pinpointing where you are or where you or your acts fit. Beatrix was warm and friendly and allayed a lot of the worries I had about talking frankly about burlesque with someone I admire, and the whole experience left me with a different perspective on what I do and renewed enthusiasm to do it better.
So what am I up to now? Well, in the wake of my consultation with Beatrix I have decided to bite the bullet and do something I have wanted to do for a while. I am going to retire my Rubber Ducky act for re-working. I have always been very pleased with the costume for that act but less happy about the act itself. I always felt it had neither a strong narrative nor a strong sense of character, and those are the parts of an act I enjoy most. The plan is to take the act off and work on completely re-writing it, but I wouldn’t like to say how long that will take as I am not sure yet which direction I want to take it in.
The other thing I am working on is making the first initial changes to my Jackalope. In light of its debut performances there were some things about the costume and choreography that I wanted to change. I have finally got my perfect trunk (thank you Colwick car boot sale!) and I now just need to get the rest of the tweaks and small changes finished. I have a couple of fairly big engagements coming up over the next few months and I hope that the act will be ready in it’s 1.1 version by then.
If you have read this far to the bottom, I commend you! It’s been another long blog. Hopefully, when I get my netbook back from the shop the blogs will get closer together and not quite as long!
‘Til next time,