Creating Choreography for BABE

Dear Constant Reader,

True confession time. I do not like creating choreography. It doesn’t come easily to me and it’s not particularly fun. However, it’s a good teaching tool and students seem to like learn routines as much (if not more) as building skills. How about a peek behind the curtain of my process for the new one I’m teaching on Thursday?

A choreography for teaching is very different than one for performing. I want something easy enough to teach in a limited time, but still challenge the students, have a variety of moves/skills, incorporate modifications as necessary, and be fun. The one in question also needs to evoke Valentine’s Day.

Because I don’t enjoy creating choreography, I dawdle and dally and then have to scramble madly. This time,  I vowed to have my shapely butt in gear and make Valen-Tease a quality class without making myself crazy. It didn’t hurt that a whole bunch of students registered as soon as the class was announced. (Want in? There’s still room.)

I set a deadline of having the whole thing completed by the Sunday before the class (this past Sunday) so I could show it to the BeauTease and get feedback. I had a concept, which is what I announced — a sensual striptease out of a robe, stockings and heels, done partially on a bed or couch. Then I needed music that would fit the bill; something it the 3-minute range, since I have just an hour to teach. Scratch made some suggestions, one of which inspired me to use a different song by the same artist.

Song acquired, I broke it down into sections and sketched out my ideas for each part. Then I got into costume and tried it out. And changed things, and tried again, and changed things, again and again, until something solid and reproducible emerged. It’s a tedious process. At least for me.

At last I had something I was wiling to show other people.  As luck would have it, our in-person rehearsal was moved on-line because of the snowstorm, so I could show the troupe from the room where I would be teaching. They gave me some feedback and made some suggestions based on my demonstration. Then we all did it together and gave me some more thoughts.

A little more work and it’s ready for class on Thursday! Except that I’ll probably make a few tweaks while teaching, since no choreography survives contact with students.

Perhaps you’ll join me….

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 14 Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 9 February 2021 at 4:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

October Classes at B.A.B.E.

Dear Constant Reader,

October is going to be busy at B.A.B.E. We’ve got a bunch of on-line classes!.

Introduction to Burlesque is back! The new session starts on Monday and we’ve got courses scheduled for the end of the year.

Starting October 12, I’ll be teaching Spellbinding Striptease, a seasonal burlesque routine, in three classes.

On October 17 Betty Blaize will be hosting Jeepers Creepers, How Do I Stick Eyelashes on These Peepers?, a workshop all about false eyelashes!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 1 October 2020 at 9:53 am  Leave a Comment  

Thoughts on Teaching Remotely

Dear Constant Reader,

I decided to close the studio on March 17th. For the rest of the month, I tried to figure out how to move forward. I decided to teach remotely and I’ve been doing so on two platforms.

I started with mini-lessons on Instagram Live. After trying a few things, I settled down to a schedule of every Wednesday at 3pm. We’ve turned the library into a studio and it’s working pretty well. We’re not really actively using it for anything else and it’s got a lot of natural light (hence the mid-afternoon broadcast). Previously I tried shooting in our dining room, but it’s darker and the chandelier is just a terrible lighting source.

IG Live is very weird. I know people are out there, but the only way we interact is if they comment, which I can’t read in real time because my phone is set up too far away for my myopic eyes. I’m so used to seeing my students and tailoring the lesson based on their feedback, both verbal and physical.

After I finally figured out how to save Live videos (that first floorwork class is gone forever — probably for the best…), Scratch is doing a little editing to make them pretty and they’re going up on IGTV and YouTube. I’m cringing a little afterwards at how any time I say “um” or have to stop and think about what I’m doing next, even with prep or just forget to introduce myself.

I agonized about how to handle my regular classes. After all, people had already paid for classes and I figured they also needed a little distraction, some fun. I got a pro Zoom account and learned how to use it on my tablet (I don’t own a laptop). I tried running classes from my dining room (as mentioned above) and finally decided to use the B.A.B.E. studio. So, once a week, I drive to the empty office building and lock myself in at The Arts Nexus. Scratch set up some lighting in the smaller studio and I bring a stand for my tablet.

My April students have been great! Their enthusiasm really bolsters my spirits. They’ve been taking some of the clunkier aspects of class — like the costume show and tell — in stride. Again, teaching is challenging. I have everyone set up in a grid view, so I can kind of keep an eye on what they’re doing while I teach, but really I have to get close and peer at the screen to check on their progress. Also, everyone is muted unless they have a direct question, so I get a lot of silent thumbs up, when I check in. I desperately miss the in-person interaction.

I decided that everyone who had registered for class prior to the shut down could take that class on-line, but also in-person once we reopened, whenever that would be. Some have opted to wait for studio classes. I hope it’s not too long…

For the May Intro classes, I’ve introduced an on-line only price. I’m hoping people who have always wanted to take a class, but live too far away or couldn’t afford the full price can join in.

I’m also planning a series of one-hour workshops for those who don’t want to make the commitment of a multi-part course (or just don’t don’t have the attention span right now). I’m thinking of making these donation-based rather than a set price.

Speaking of money (which I rarely do), at the moment I’m teaching for free. Yes, the Bite-Sized Burlesque lessons on Wednesdays are and will remain free on social media for as long as I run them. I mean, I’m not getting paid right now for the regular classes, although my student have all duly paid their registration fees.

Right after I closed the studio in March, I got am email from my ticketing company. They were overwhelmed with cancelations and refunds and reduced staffing, &c. All outstanding checks were being canceled and would be reissued in 14-21 days. Unfortunately, that message came several days after I had deposited my checks. So, the checks bounced and the bank hit me with fees. And I haven’t heard anything about when those payments will be reissued nor when payment for the April classes will come. It’s convenient to run registrations through this company and we have a long-standing (and usually great) business relationship, but if they’re going to hold my money indefinitely, I’ve got to find another solution.

The tl;dr of it is: I miss my students and I’m trying my best to put burlesque lessons out into the world, but it’s a challenge.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 22 April 2020 at 1:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Spring SPECTACULAR Showcase 5/21/16

Dear Constant Reader,

This weekend was the spring B.A.B.E. student showcase. We ended up calling it “Spectacular” instead of “Student” because we had a couple of instructors on stage too. We hold these recitals twice a year so our Burlesque Your Way students can show off their new creations, but also to give our alumnae a performance opportunity.

Scratch hosted the first part of the show — distinguish alums and instructors.

First up was Sadie Hunter, bringing back her first Burlesque Your Way creation, a fierce chair dance to Beyoncé’s version of “Fever”.

Kitty Levesque brought a touch of glamour with her Marilyn-style “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”.

Elsa Riot reprised the fire-themed act she had debuted at The Teaseday Club. And despite her fears, her merkin stayed on again!

I was sorry I couldn’t see Alice Azul‘s new number since I was fussing backstage. The bit I saw in rehearsal looked super-sultry and she had a lovely feather-trimmed robe (that she made herself).

Lucie Luxe, our alumna-turned-instructor has been away from the stage earning another Master’s degree. Her return was heralded by a re-work of one of her Teaseday Club favorites, to “Toxic” from Melanie Martinez.

Devora Darling demonstrated her boundless energy and dance skills to The Puppini Sister’s “It Don’t Mean a Thing”. It was a great advertisement for her class next month where she’ll teach a complete burlesque routine of her own creation.

Mina Murray: That’s me! I presented my revamped version of The Faerie Queene. This is the third iteration, and I hope it’s finally the one! The evolution deserves a post of its very own.

The second half, which I hosted, was devoted Burlesque Your Way students.

This is Honey Bee‘s third creation with a B.A.B.E. program (she took Burlesque Your Way once before and the Mystery Box class). She stripped out of a peacock-feathered costume to Amy Winehouse’s “Love is Blind” and ended by pulling off a scarf that was draped atop her corset and wrapping it around her eyes like a blindfold in her final pose.

Lucky Penny presented her very first burlesque routine! She was a jewel thief who distracted a hapless guard by taking off her clothes. Her friend playing the guard really hammed it up and made a great foil to her naughtiness. The song was, appropriately, “Wikked Lil’ Grrrls” by Esthero.

Pearl Buttons has been working really hard! She created two numbers for her debut at The Teaseday Club plus her class assignment. This was a high-energy dance-intensive striptease to Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s “The Boogie Bumper”.

Devastasia, who made her debut last fall in the Mystery Box class, went classic with Frank Sinatra singing “Mack the Knife”. She played it up as a hit-woman who removes concealed weapons as well as her clothes and packed them all neatly into a suitcase. Then she put on a totally different outfit and got out of town.

We closed the show with Jeannie Martini, also a Mystery Box veteran. She brought down the house with her fan dance to Doris Day’s “I Only Have Eyes for You.” I don’t want to give away the punchline, but it was hilarious and clever!

And here’s almost everyone! From L to R: Lucky Penny, Mina Murray, Lolita the Stage Kitten, Pearl Buttons, Devora Darling, Devastacia, Jeannie Martini, Kitty Levesque, Alice Azul, Sadie Hunter, and Elsa Riot. (missing: Honey Bee, Lucie Luxe and Scratch). Photo courtesy of Elsa Riot.

Big thanks to Allison in the tech booth and Lolita the Stage Kitten! And of course, Scratch who produced the show and handled the box office, as well as hosting.

B.A.B.E. students will be back in the Fall for the next showcase!


Published in: on 25 May 2016 at 4:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Dear Constant Reader,

Monday night The Boston Academy of Burlesque Education had its fall student showcase and what an amazing show it was. All the students absolutely rocked it!

First up we had the B.A.B.E alumnae*, strutting their stuff. Some of the acts I’d seen before, some were brand new, and they were all crowd-pleasers.

Sadie Hunter started things off with a smoldering classic-style strip with a boa to “Nasty Naughty Boy”.

Trixie Santiago brought in some humor with a “fan” dance in honor of Ivar Haglund, the clam king of Seattle. Yes, her fans were over-sized clam shells.

The luscious Viva Le Reve performed a sultry down-and-up strip to “Feelin’ Good”, starting in a robe and ending barely covered by a beaded evening gown.

Silki Velour presented a more traditional fan dance. If you missed it, I believe she’s bring it to The Teaseday Club in November.

Teaseday Cookie Queen Elsa Riot teased us with a glittering red cape that she used to reveal and conceal.

Scratch awarded them all cutesy, kitschy, back-to-school themed certificates, like “The Girl Most Likely To…” and “Class Clown”.

From left to right: Elsa Riot, Trixie Santiago, Via Le Reve, Sadie Hunter, and Shirley Rockafella (I’m not sure where Silki went…)

Then it was time to reveal what had been in the Mystery Boxes. I was dying to find out. This was the first advanced routine creation class that I hadn’t taught, so I had no idea what was coming!

This was day one:

Six of the eight students brought their act all the way from box to stage. Each box contained elements that the dancer had to incorporate into the act, including small props, costuming decorations, dance moves, costume items, a mood, and a piece of music.

The first three performers made their burlesque debuts!

Devastasia was a slightly gothy baker who proceeded to sensually frost a cupcake on stage (and present it to me. I’m so lucky!). I though the bejeweled spatula was an item from her box, but it was the cupcake! Her sequin-swirled bra was gorgeous. (By the way, she’s the artist who made The Lost Girl’s dollhouse so beautiful. Come to The Wrathskellar and see…)

Dimples DeVil was a slinky cat burglar with a thing for jewelry. She worked with Brigitte to up the “dirty” factor of her act and it showed. I loved her opening leg tease.

Jeanie Martini started out cute, then next thing I knew there was a shower of dozens of flowers — from her crotch! Totally unexpected and marvelous. One of her box items were jingle bells and her (very lovely) underthings were covered with them.

Honey Bee is a veteran of Burlesque Your Way and I was looking forward to seeing what she created this time. She was a bartender with a box full of props, including one of her requirements — a bottle, which she envisioned as a bottle of Jameson. My favorite moment was when she put a cocktail shaker between her thighs and pulled out a boa. One of her required items was a shimmy belt and she attached cocktail strainers to her hips!

Villa Lobos was the only student I didn’t know. I believe this was her first burlesque class, although she’s clearly a performer. She performed a dance routine with sheer wings and a hula hoop which looked unearthly under the strobe light. I know that one of her items was a turkey baster, which she transformed into a black rose.

Shirley Rockafella is the most experienced student of the batch, having performed all over the place this past year. She closed the show out with an adorable strip, starting as a cleaning lady and ending up in a corset and ruffled skirt. She rhinestoned the crotch of her panties!

I’m so proud of each and everyone of them for taking on such a challenging class and acquitting themselves so well. Scratch had “Super Star” blue ribbons for each of them and they all totally deserved it! I just wish I’d gotten a class picture…

Our next student showcase won’t be until the spring, but I’m sure some B.A.B.E. students will be gracing the stage at The Great Burlesque Exposition in February!

*It’s not that they’ve graduated from B.A.B.E., since most of them still take lessons with us, but that they’ve graduated to the professional/semi-professional stage

Published in: on 21 October 2015 at 4:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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October Approaches

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s almost October and there is so much going on! I’m in such a tizzy because there are so many fabulous events that I’m involved with or will be attending.

First up is The Boston BeauTease (that’s us with our shiny new name) appearing at RuffleCon, an alternative fashion conference, on Friday, October 2nd. You know how much I *love* costumes and we’re bringing out some of our most elaborate ones for this show. I’m so excited to be presenting a new act with my hand-me-down Catherine D’Lish costume. Although I’ve performed in it before:
I’ve never felt like it really had its own number. Now it does. No spoilers here; you’ll just have to come to RuffleCon or wait patiently until I bring it to Boston.

Next is The Teaseday Club. I won’t be performing, but B.A.B.E. alumna Elsa Riot will! And Morning Glory will be defending her Cookie Queen title for the second month!

And then comes the event we’ve all been waiting for… The Wrathskellar returns! We’ve been thwarted in our attempts to present our long-form Halloween show for two years now. I cannot express how happy I am that our beloved decrepit cabaret is opening again. I cannot wait to become The Diva and luxuriate in the star’s dressing room again. One (un)lucky person gets to join me there each night for an intimate moment…

It’s the same story of ambition, jealousy, and murder, with the best acts of the previous four years, plus some brand-new ones and a few surprises. I just know this is going to be the best year yet!

Want a sneak preview? I’ve got a few pictures from rehearsals on Facebook, but trust me, you want to see the real thing.

As if he wasn’t busy enough with The Wrathskellar, Scratch is also directing The Woman in Black: A Ghost Play.
We saw this play in London a few years ago and were completely blown away. It’s truly scary and is one of my favorite pieces of theatre (ignore the movie — it’s not as clever or as frightening). I can’t wait to see it brought to the stage here! It’s at the Davis Square Theatre at the beginning of the week, while The Wrathskellar is on the weekends.

Lastly, but only when the calendar is concerned, is Striptober! on Monday, October 19th. It’s B.A.B.E.‘s semi-annual student showcase and this one is going to be particularly great! We’ve got senior students like Alice Azul and Sadie Hunter strutting their stuff, but also the students of Scratch’s Mystery Box class. They each received a box of items from which they had to create a brand-new routine. Here’s they are immediately after opening their boxes:
I am dying to see what they created! It’s been kept a total mystery!

Will I see you this October?


Published in: on 28 September 2015 at 12:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Rebirth of a Dance Floor

Dear Constant Reader,

When B.A.B.E. moved to its new studio space, we had to have a *lot* of work done to make it fit for dancing. Chief among the rennovations was laying a wooden dance floor over the horrible concrete floors. After 3 years of abuse, the boards of the floor had begun to drift, leaving gaping holes between them.
A view of the whole floor doesn’t look too bad, but you get closer and you can see…

…dangerous gaps. Also, the exposed edges of those boards were getting chipped and we were in danger of tearing the padding underneath.

It was more than time for repairs.

On Saturday all The Boston Babydolls converged on B.A.B.E. for a day of hard labor. We started by clearing off the dance floor, which also involved moving a huge heavy cabinet which I have hated from the day I bought it and getting it the heck out. I’m looking forward to shopping for better storage options.

Then we pulled up all the boards, hoping to reuse as many as possible.Gosh, we have a lot of stuff…

Here’s Scratch pulling up the last of the boards. We’re all in sock feet so we don’t tear the precious padding that saves us from dancing directly on concrete. Then we tried to sweep up all the glitter, sequins, and rhinestones that had filtered down between the boards.

We began re-laying the floor. We knew a bunch of the boards would be unusable, either because they had gotten damaged or they were cut in such a way that the could only be used in a particular place. We were using “click-together” flooring and cutting it removes the clicky things, which is fine when that end is up against a wall, but one can’t reuse a cut piece in the middle of the floor. So I had bought a couple more boxes of boards. Of course, that type of flooring had been discontinued, so I got the last two boxes in the warehouse. More on that later.

The crew pauses for a photo op. We each signed the back of a board. We’re really invested in our work! Scratch taught us all carpentry skills, like how to drive a nail (harder than you would think), use a chop saw, and properly measure. And I said goodbye to my nice fingernails, which were all grown out longish for the first time in forever.

After several hours we were moving right along, but the usable boards were growing fewer and fewer. Ones that we had rejected for lack of perfection were getting put back into the mix. We were so close to finishing and having celebratory pizza and beer when we ran out of usable boards. We needed about a dozen more and we were completely out. What a disappointment!

Scratch & I started a desperate hunt for one more box of compatible boards. At this point I didn’t care if they matched, only that they fit. We kept finding ones that were at least one mm too thick. A millimeter doesn’t sound like much, but trust me, it makes a big difference.

The closest box of the exact same type, it turns out, was in Bangor, Maine, but we found a (more local) store which had something they thought might work, but they were about to close. The next morning, we were there when the store opened and grabbed two boxes.

It turns out that it’s not *exactly* compatible, but Scratch had a clever idea to secure the boards. He and I laid the last 11 boards in no time at all.

Ta da! Here’s Scratch nailing down the molding.
Yeah, the color of the new boards is different, but beggars can’t be choosers. The floor is now nice and solid and beautiful again.


Published in: on 27 April 2015 at 2:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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New Logo

Dear Constant Reader,

Back when we started B.A.B.E. we needed a logo quickly. Scratch threw together this image:

I like the laurel wreath (some of you know why) and that there was a Latin motto, as there should be, but I wasn’t crazy for the motto itself. It translated to “Life is too short to dance with ugly men”. Cute, funny and true, but not really the philosophy B.A.B.E. espouses. Still, done is good, as the sage said, and we used that image for a long time.

Recently, I decided it was time and put my Classicist training to work and created a new motto. Armed with that, Scratch created us a new logo:

I’m quite pleased with it.


Published in: on 15 September 2014 at 3:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

Latest News

Dear Constant Reader,

I bet you’re wondering what’s going on in the wonderful world of your humble correspondent. Or not, but I’m going to tell you anyway.

On Saturday afternoon, the Boston Babydolls have a private show down in Rhode Island. Depending on how tired I am after that, I might attend a gender-swapped staged reading of The Taming of the Shrew.

Monday night, March 31st, is Burlesque Through the Backdoor at The Burren in Davis Square. Door are at 7:30PM and tickets are $15 for general admission and $25 for reserved front row seats. We’ll be presenting a number of our favorite acts, with striptease, singing, tapdance and more. And you’ll see the debut of our backup dancers, Elyse and Olivia!

The very next day, April 1st (no fooling!) is The Teaseday Club! You’ll see burlesque from the hard-working Ginny Nightshade, Victoria Van Layer from The Beat City Beauties, and Cookie Queen Brigitte Bisoux. Also bellydance from Zia, comedy from Mike Lemme, and I’m sure Scratch will do something impossible again. Tickets have gone up to $15, but you can still buy them in advance (which makes things much easier on the box office gal) and support your favorite performer. [EDIT: Whoops! Ginny Nightshade will be performing in May. Stella Diamond will be appearing in April.]

Yes, that’s 3 shows in 4 days.

And B.A.B.E. continues to be busy! We have a brand-new website! It’s a work in progress, but what isn’t…

In April BABEfit is on Mondays at 6:00PM. Your lovely instructors will be Mandy, Brigitte Bisoux or Devora Darling, depending on which week it is. Registration is only $12 in advance and $15 at the door.

Introduction to Burlesque with Mandy follows at 7:00PM. The Early Bird Pricing is still in effect until next Monday — all 4 classes are only $85! Sign up now and save.

I’m sorry to say that “Putting It All Together” with Brigitte Bisoux is completely sold out. The lucky few who signed up are going to have an amazing time!

There’s a rumor that the next Beyond Basic Burlesque series is going to be on chair dance. I’ll keep you posted…

And that’s the news!


Published in: on 25 March 2014 at 10:12 am  Comments (1)  
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Dear Constant Reader,

If you follow me on Facebook, you’ve probably seen me going on and on about What is it?

The Boston Babydolls begin each rehearsal with a warm up. Usually that means putting on a few songs and following Betty through drills of dances moves. Sometimes we do calisthenics (we love squats). It’s fun and challenging.

Someone had the bright idea of sharing this with students and so was born. Each class starts with a warm up and then progresses into a number of dance routines.

Don’t worry — this isn’t a full-on Boston Babydolls choreography; you’ll need to take one of Betty’s Beyond Basic Burlesque classes for that. We’ve taken some of our favorite songs and created little combinations to get your heart pumping. You don’t have to have any dance experience, just follow the instructor and have a good time. As you come again and again, you’ll get more familiar with the combinations and can start adding on — until we change them up. : )

Then we’ll go into floorwork to tone and strengthen, especially your core, butt, and legs. We finish it off with a cool down and relaxing stretch.

It’s fitness with a burlesque flair!

Classes in January are on Mondays at 6:30pm and Thursdays at 6pm. each class is $12 in advance and $15 at the door. You can register right here. To encourage you to register early, we’re going to pick one person who registers for a class before December 31st and give them a free 8-class punch card!

I hope you will join us in 2014 and get B.A.B.E. fit!


Published in: on 23 December 2013 at 1:46 pm  Leave a Comment