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

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