Friday Tip!

Dear Constant Reader,

Today is the first day of The Great Burlesque Exposition of 2014! I can’t wait to see all your shiny faces and sparkly other body parts!

But, first, your Friday Tip!

When in doubt, point your toe.

M2

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Published in: on 7 February 2014 at 10:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip!

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s Friday and time for your tip!

Sing your choreography.

This is a trick we picked up from Betty. If you sing the steps of your dance to the tune of your song, they’re easier to remember.

Just the other day we were talking about an act we haven’t done in nearly a year and ended up chorusing “To the right, to the left, bounce in a circle, shoulder shift!” to the tune of “Little Brown Jug”. I can’t hear the opening of Joe Jackson’s “Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby” without thinking “lunge outward, now turn around, lunge inward, now turn again”.

Try it! It’s fun!

M2

Published in: on 11 October 2013 at 1:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip!

Dear Constant Reader,


The rumor mill tells me that voting has been extended until the 15th. The Boston Babydolls need every vote we can get, every day from now until the 15th. One vote per IP address per day! It only takes a few clicks of the mouse and you’ll feel satisfied all day. Think of it as a good habit, like brushing your teeth, only you’re doing it for the sake of boobs.

And if you would be so kind, vote for Jennifer Pelland for Best Author. She’s looking forward to losing, so let’s disappoint her.


Here’s your tip!

Perform within your comfort zone. Rehearse to expand that zone.

M2

Published in: on 8 March 2013 at 11:04 am  Leave a Comment  
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Review: Loie Fuller

Dear Constant Reader,


Please vote for The Boston Babydolls every day!


Today’s book is not about burlesque, but a dancer who inspired one of the Boston Babydolls.

Loie Fuller: Goddess of Light by Richard Nelson Current & Marcia Ewing Current (1997)

Loie Fuller (née Marie Louise Fuller in 1862) was stage struck from a very early age. It’s said that at 2 years old she unexpectedly joined the recitation group at church and lisped her way through “Now I lay me down to sleep”. She strived for stardom as an actress and singer, but it wasn’t until she turned to dance that her fortunes turned. She took a popular music hall dance style — the skirt dance — and turned it into a dramatic swirl of fabric, dubbed the Serpentine Dance.

After a lukewarm reception in the US, Loie took her dance to Paris in 1892 and became a sensation. La Loïe, as the French quickly dubbed her, mesmerized audiences with her dances of flowing fabric, highlighted with colored light. In some of her dances she manipulated the folds of fabric with long sticks, creating the form of a butterfly, a flower, rippling waves. In “Le Lis du Nil” she was draped in 500 yards of silk.

When theatres were still using gas footlights and limelight, Loie took advantage of the new electrical arc lights for her performances and created her own colored gels to get just the right effect. Sometimes she danced on a platform of glass, lit from below, and used mirrors in some of her dances. She took advantage of new technologies, projecting images on her draperies with magic lanterns and later, making moving pictures,

Her swirling form was a hallmark of Art Nouveau and many artists depicted her, on paper and in sculpture, including Rodin and Toulouse-Lautrec. She inspired fashions in clothing, jewelry, and home decor. She can also be given credit for paving the way for modern dancers, like Isadora Duncan (in whose career she took an interest), and Fokine’s Ballets Russes.

Many of her tours and other ventures were mismanaged and lost money, despite her critical acclaim. By all accounts she was charming, generous, and childlike. Loie was constantly in debt and relied on her many friends to help her out. She wrote a hasty memoir which was eventually published in English as Fifteen Years of a Dancer’s Life, With Some Account of her Distinguished Friends.

To give you an idea of the serpentine dance, here’s a montage of films shot during Loie’s lifetime. I don’t know if the dancers include Loie herself, students of hers, or just imitators. The colored footage was hand tinted, frame by frame.

So, where do we come into this? After Betty Blaize saw dancer Jody Spurling present a program inspired by Loie Fuller, she saw the possibilities for using huge swirls of fabric to captivate and tease. She got a vast quantity of silk and sewed herself a cape a la Loie.

Her first act “Lost at Sea” involved a slideshow telling a tragic love story projected onto her costume as she danced.

“Someone to Watch Over Me” was originally done behind a large Venetian blind, to give the audience a voyeuristic thrill and create a film noir look. Later, we used lighting effects to give the same atmosphere without having to worry about sightlines.

Unlucky in Love, February 2012 (Photo by Chris McIntosh)

In “Snowfall” Betty appeared in a blizzard made from tiny points of light, and then an actual blizzard of paper snow falling from the ceiling.

V for Vixen, December 2010 (Photo by Paul Falcone)

M2

Published in: on 27 February 2013 at 4:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip!

Dear Constant Reader,


Please vote for The Boston Babydolls every day!


Dance to music you love.

You’re going to be listening to that song constantly. Listen to it while you brainstorm, choreograph, practice, perform, while you’re in the car, walking around, before you go to sleep. You should know that music in your bones. And if you don’t love it, all the above becomes a chore. If you do, it’s a delight and that comes through in your performance.

M2

Published in: on 22 February 2013 at 11:12 am  Leave a Comment  
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Wings!

Dear Constant Reader,

Betty Blaize with Wings of Isis

On Saturday Betty and I went to a master bellydance seminar on Wings of Isis with Ayshe. Betty has danced with wings before, most notably in the 2010 edition of The Wrathskellar, but it was all new to me. Well, it’s not like I’m unfamiliar with manipulating large, floaty objects…

In the first workshop we spent a lot of time on an anatomy lesson, discussion of the proper position of the spine and use of the muscles in the back & shoulders. Positioning the arms is very important in using the wings. We also spent a lot of time on expansion and contraction of the body. I know everyone was itching to get the wings on, but this groundwork was necessary.

In the second workshop we learned a short choreography. Betty might have actually learned it — I was just doing the best I could at the moment. I’d been a little nervous about how long it had been since I practiced bellydance, but Ayshe is more a fusion dancer than a traditionalist and most of her movements were strongly ballet and modern dance influenced.

After the workshops, there was a student showcase where Betty and I both performed — but not bellydance, either traditional or fusion. She presented a tilyana (I’ve probably spelled that wrong), a classical Indian dance piece her teacher originally learned in 20 minutes. Betty’s been working on it for 6 months, but don’t think the less of her — her teacher is Superdancer. It’s all about very precise footwork and hand gestures, with a touch of the expressive storytelling that enlivens all of Betty’s dancing.

Betty encouraged me to show a fan dance, but I was in a quandary about the costume. I don’t usually wear one (well, pasties & a g-string) and this was *not* a burlesque audience. I ended up in my “Blue Angel” middle layer — bra & panties with silk panels for a skirt. It looked really nice with the white fans.

We had a long discussion on the ride back about teaching and choreography. A day well spent!

And I did get my own set of wings…

Published in: on 19 March 2012 at 11:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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