Wednesday, August 17, 2011

2011-08-09 New York School of Burlesque in Atlanta

One of my greatest joys as a producer is to help bring out of town talent and shows to Atlanta.  The icing on the cake is when we can also schedule some time to teach a class as well, the cherry on top is when the teachers are from the world renowned New York School of Burlesque!  Jo "Boobs" Weldon, who literally wrote the book on burlesque, took the show girl on the road while touring with Jonny Porkpie during his Grab My Junk Tour and we were lucky enough to be able to schedule them some teaching time at Spinarella Pole/Dance/Fitness the day before they performed.

Jo taught Philosophy of the Tease.  She went over the history of the striptease, pointing out that as it's only around 100 years old it's just a baby as far as art forms go.  From how to connect with your audience to going over ways to enhance your strip, she took everyone on a journey to being a better burlesque performer, regardless of skill level.  Even after almost 10 years of burlesque and nearly 20 years of dance I still learned a lot from this class.  At the end of the lecture she showed the class a few basic moves  that everyone got to try out and then we played "Stump the Stripper" as she called it. She answered questions as to how to take off every day items brought by the students.  She discussed side zippers, t-shirts, talked a student through the best way to flirt with a hat before removing it and as a bonus showed her what effect it has on the audience when she does something as simple as taking off her earrings.  Closing out her class was how to take off a corset with both grace and sex appeal.  I don't know if you've ever worn a corset, but the class was afraid to blink least they miss something on how to remove this antiquated piece of lingerie that's become a fetish staple.  If you missed the class Jo recommended her DVD Striptease for Burlesque, as it goes over many of the concepts she went over in class as well as many other articles of clothing she wasn't able to go over in class due to time constraints.

The next class was The Arc of the Tease with Jonny Porkpie.  I was so excited that he was going to teach this class as I missed it when he taught it at Southern Fried Burlesque Fest this past March.  Jonny, having an extensive theater background, tackles burlesque numbers as a director would a full play.  In this class he had all of us come up with an idea for a number regardless of how insane, out there or impossible the idea was.  We all then went through and came up with the arc of the story and how it would be incorporated as being part of a strip tease.  Sadly I don't always work super well under pressure so I ended up using an idea that I had come up with but had not flushed out in any way shape or form.  By the end of the class I had the whole act figured out on my worksheet and a great tool for putting together future numbers as well.  Many in the class have never taken a burlesque class before, let alone ever performed, and watching them come up with some AMAZING ideas that I hope to see in future student showcases.  There's something amazing about watching that light click on that they can do this and that coming up with a burlesque routine isn't nearly as hard as they thought it was going to be.

Over all it was an amazing evening of classes and it once again proved to me that you can never take too many classes.  It doesn't matter how long you've been doing it, there's always a new way of looking at things. Recently I was asked by Talloolah Love for a quote about the importance of taking classes and here's what I sent to her:

"One of the things I love about burlesque is that anyone can do it; but as with anything, the more you practice the better you'll be.  I always recommend taking classes whenever you can because you will always learn something new. There really is no one way to do anything and someone else may have figured out a way that works better for you. I've been performing burlesque for almost 10 years and teaching for almost five; on top of that I have over 20 years of theater and dance training; and yet I still learn something new in every class I take."

-Katherine 'Lashe" Neslund
Producer and Teacher

Syrens of the South Productions

Monday, August 15, 2011

2011-08-03 TnT Invades the Cult Movie and Atlanta

Back in March I was contacted by Tennessee Tease Burlesque from Memphis, who was trying to put together a tour for the very first time.  We went over dates and began trying to work out all the details.  Syrens of the South Productions was happy to get them a venue and a show date to help bring even more amazing burlesque to Atlanta! The reason I bring this up is March...for an August show...yup, you gotta plan that far in advance!

So on Wednesday, August 3rd, Atlanta was invaded by  Tennessee Tease Burlesque!  I was joined by Lola le Soliel with New Orleans Jon and his lovely date sitting near by at The Shelter.  Being a huge movie buff I was really excited about this show, I ended up being familiar with every movie they did thus proving that yes, I am a big dork.

The show was a tribute to their favorite cult movies.  It opened with the dinner scene from Beetlejuiceand just went to more awesome places from there.  Some of the highlights of the evening were tributes to Pink Floyd's The Wall, which was done as a medley that took you on a tour of the entire movie with some amazing costume changes and layers, including the faceless mask.  There was also a hilarious rendition of What Ever Happen to Baby Jane that went from a nearly literal rendition of the movie to a wire hanger spank fest!   There was an beautiful tribute to Metropolis as well, and I may have been the only person in the audience that's seen that movie.  There was also the plastic wrapped body of Laura Palmer from Twin Peaks/Fire Walk with Me and a well done adaptation of Barbarella.

There was a bit of variety thrown into the mix as well with songs being sung from The Big Labowski with the dancing Valkyrie stripping as The Dude sung.  Dirty Dancing had Baby and Johnny singing about her lover boy, and Grease showed how helplessly devoted she was.  There was also some amazing fire acts including flaming nun-chucks for Enter the Dragon and a beautiful fire dance for Nightmare Before Christmas. 

One of my favorite moments was the Oh Brother Where Art Thou tribute after intermission that had the sirens doing laundry and it was all sung acapella. The ladies went into the crowd and retrieved three gentlemen from the audience. It was really simple and subtle and that's what made it so great next to the flash and glitz of the other tributes.  The MC then came out to have the chosen gentleman twirl tassels or striptease for the audience in order to win an autographed show poster. Over all the show was amazingly well done, the acts were all very original and brilliant in both their execution and simplicity to make the easy to travel.  I highly recommend going to see Tennessee Tease Burlesque if you get the chance and do hope they'll come back to Atlanta again soon!