Saturday, 10 March 2012

Belly Dance and Burlesque

It's been a while since I've been out, and even longer since I've seen any burlesque, so you may imagine that I was fairly excited when yesterday evening saw me glamming up in my gladdest rags and heading out to a Bellydance and Burlesque cabaret show.

The audience for these shows  is almost as fabulous as the performers, so troupe mate Ruth and I took the opportunity to break out the red lipstick. I went fifties with a cute heart print dress, which was a whopping £5 in the sale at Tesco (that well-known vintage treasure trove) and a huge petticoat that made sitting down pretty tricky. Hair is in rather wonky victory rolls, one of which got snagged when I put the dress on, and had to be hidden under a black fascinator!

Naturally, we were attended by our respective swains, to reserve our seats, hold our coats and generally attend to our needs, but they weren't dressed up enough to merit a photo!

The show opened with an AmCab solo by Fulya, who is one of my favourite dancers. She has a fabulously flirty, cheeky style, and is a consummate professional, who managed to make the numerous problems with the sound during her set seems like all part of the fun. I was also in love with her costume- a purple bra top and skirt with iridescent sequins. beautiful and unusual, just like the owner!

I have to confess I can't remember the whole running order, but I do know that early on in the first half Ava Bonham-Garter performed an original (and hilarious!) strip-tease based on the Disney villainess Maleficent. We were informed by the compère that this was her first performance, so extra brownie points to her for being so confident and really owning the stage.

Kitty Kohl showed off her fabulously fluid moves in a lovely tribal fusion solo. This was the second time I'd seen her perform, and I was really impressed by how graceful she was.
Then there was a complete change of pace and we were treated to a selection of operatic arias from Sue Hutton. I am not an opera fan in the slightest, so I was not expecting to enjoy this, but I was totally blown away by her voice and stage presence. I am also totally in awe of anyone who can enunciate in three different languages!

The guest of honour for the night, Tjarda van Straten was due on, but more demons in the sound system meant that her track wouldn't play, so after a little twirl to show off her fabulous costuming, she headed off to try and sort out her music, leaving the stage to the tender mercies of my teacher and naughty nurse of the night, Dawn O'Brien.

Dawn's piece, a medical themed strip tease to Bon Jovi's 'Bad Medicine' had the entire audience in stitches, and should earn an award for 'most innovative use of surgical scissors'. I may never look at latex gloves in the same way again.

Musical issues sorted, Tjarda then closed the first half with one of the most exquisite pieces of dance I've ever seen. Her arm movements were just astounding, with the musicality carried through right down to her fingertips. There was a dead hush while she danced, it was that amazing.

There was time for a couple more photos during the interval, then the second half started with a bang as Fulya performed a cute and energetic strip tease, including a glove removal that was completely new to me- one to add to the practice list there!

Kitty Kohl wowed us with another piece of elegant tribal fusion, and then Sue returned for a jazz set. Sadly this bit of the show was somewhat spoiled for us as there was a particularly obnoxious group of females sat behind us who appeared unhappy with the fact that Sue was taking up stage time that could otherwise have been devoted to watching people take off their clothes, and were disruptive and generally vile during her performance. Clearly a little refresher on the meaning of the term cabaret was required, as well as some intensive work on their manners!

The penultimate performance saw Dawn returning to remind the audience of what she does best; a gorgeously technical cyber fusion piece to Korn's 'Get Up'. This had Ruth giggling- apparently some of the floorwork Dawn was demonstrating so flawlessly has had our tribal class in knots for weeks. Kind of glad I missed those classes!

The show closed with the return of Tjarda and dance partner Nadija Broekhart, performing as 'HipSick Theatre'. Their burlesque piece was ...disturbing. The costumes, a cross between Victorian children's underwear and fifties girdles and pantyhose, were brilliant, and the premise of dolls coming to life is something I've seen done before, but not with such precision and such an aura of creepy. An excellent reminder that burlesque is not just about the strip tease, but also about subversion of cultural norms.

I wasn't sure whether photography would be allowed, and in any case I would be reluctant to plaster artistes' pictures all over the net without their express permission, so there are no photos of the performers. However I do want to share this art work from Kookie Kaftan; the brainchild of Lynne and Julie Chapman, who host Bellydance and Burlesque. I was particularly taken by the way it expresses the ethos of the event- open to all styles and genres, but uniformly gorgeous!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds fun, and worth going just to get a load of you dames in your finery!

    (And yes, rude audience members SUCK. I always wonder why, if they're not into it, they just don't either A) shut up or B) go outside and smoke.