Archive for September, 2010

A burlesque beauty, tattooed cutie is spearheading the neo-burlesque movement in Vegas with, among other things, a monthly show at Boomers Bar at 3200 Sirius Ave.

This month’s show, starring Cha Cha Velour, Miss Karla Joy, Flora Fatale, Honey DoRight, La Rosa Muerta, Sue Nami Saki, Resa Alhena, Scarlett Letter and Sia Synn, showcased a variety of talent and tease.

Dr. Sexpot, clad in leopard-print lingerie reminiscent of Betty Rubble, piloted the preshow with a ukulele and some sultry serenades. Her quietly  enthralling voice, coupled with carefree, off-the-cuff banter with the audience, created an “I’m not really here but I’m making your night  better” kind of vibe.

Sue Nami Saki

The rest of the show took place in the Boom Boom Room, tucked in the back of the bar and equipped with a stage and a respectable sound system.

Standard burlesque fare was well-represented in the show, with feather boas and fringe to spare.

However, several acts broke up the everyday attractions. Resa Alhena, a dancer with a troupe called Cabernet, demonstrated a fusion of belly dance and burlesque, undulating and isolating the way only a trained dancer can.

Miss Karla Joy, the purported “joy of your life,” debuted a comedic skit centered around “Vitameatavegemin,” a fictional miracle product containing vitamins, meat, vegetables and minerals.

Miss Karla Joy and Vitameatavegemin

The crux of the act was the ventriloquism; Joy, clad in blue gingham, lip-synced to a 1950s-style  Infomercial track urging viewers to buy the product. The situation became more hysterical as it went on, with the voice of an unseen director prompting Joy to taste the viscous (and, based on Joy’s reaction, vile-tasting) syrup time and again. It seemed to have an intoxicating effect and Joy’s line, “Oh, I feel fine, but it’s a little hot in here …” kicked off the burlesque side of the number.

Sia Synnn, a magician and sideshow artist from Toronto, paid Vegas a visit as well. “I used to torture my dolls because I couldn’t torture my parents,” she said as a lead-in to the set. First, a doll was subjected to the likes of a staple gun and a blow-torch — then Synn turned these implements on herself. Her lazy rapport with the audience contrasted with hair-raising stunts of sadism and gave a serious edge to the show.

Scarlett Letter

Scarlett Letter, an out-of-towner from Los Angeles with “four feet of red hair and miles of bad intentions” fluttered in on wings of orange and blue and preened for the audience with commendable stage presence. She also wrapped up the show with the number that won her the title of Best Solo Performance in 2010 from the Boston Burlesque Exposition.

Cha Cha Velour, the producer of the show, said that this was the kind of talent she wanted to draw to Vegas. Velour began performing in Vegas with the Babes of Sin troupe in 2006 and has since become the mother hen of most things burlesque.

Cha Cha Velour

“I wanted more things to happen,” Velour said.”I would love for this show and others like it to continue. People can find out what burlesque is.”

Boomers as a consistent venue was a matter of happenstance. “I’ll just book it and see what happens,” Velour said of the first time she tried Boomers out. “We’ve been really happy … [Boomers] has been great.”

“We seem to be doing a good job in here,” Joy said, citing the attendance of the shows at 50 to 80 people a night. She continued that local support is always appreciated. “I’ve paid $100 for fringe before,” she said with a wry smile. “It’s a lot of effort.”

The Live Burlesque show at Boomers will be taking a hiatus for a couple months and will be back in action the last Saturday of every month starting in January. However, Velour and other burlesque beauties can be seen at numerous venues throughout the city. Check out Cha Cha Velour’s site and the calendar page at the Las Vegas Weekly for info.

Check out the Insider on Flickr for more photos!

Insurgo's promo image for the performance

A dance performance, choreographically centered around chairs, was performed in a small theater in the heart of Las Vegas.

I know what you’re thinking.

Think again.

Jenna Wurtzberger debuted her first full-length modern showcase at Insurgo’s Bastard Theater on Sept. 23. Titled “The Crowded Chair,” the  hour-long show made use of the theater’s sparse interior and local-artsy vibe.

It also proved that, despite having an idea that could turn into a boring, cliched performance, 23-year-olds can do some pretty impressive things.

Wurtzberger is a UNLV graduate who holds a degree each in dance and psychology. Her college connection was evident in her casting choices: dancers Ashley Wilkerson, Katie Duffy, Alex Lum, Cheryl Snow, Sandra Sherer, Kim Weller, Michael Coleman and Zack Davis are  also students at the university.

Despite this influence, Wurtzberger sidestepped some of the most common college dance pot-holes. The show lasted for just under an hour and had no intermission, and, despite the small cast, necessary pauses for costume changes were mercifully brief.

More abstractly, “The Crowded Chair” was serious without being somber and thought-provoking without being overindulgent.

Instead, the show provided a fluid story with enough space for the audience to fill out themselves. The music was also a boon–light piano was underscored by brooding instrumentals and strong percussion added an almost hip-hop feel.

In the spirit of many progressive dance shows, the audience was mystified shortly after entering the house. Every member of the cast was sitting in a randomly-positioned chair onstage, looking bored or stone-faced and moving only occasionally.

The show began with the dancers still onstage. By the end of the piece, each performer had taken the focus briefly, dancing a quick solo before suspending their chair somewhere on the set and exiting. The absolute stillness from the other artists onstage added to the ambiance, and those moments of waiting to see which dancer would move next were some of the best in the show.

The concept of tension was redolent throughout.  This brought to mind the complex interplay  in relationships, either between a couple (as in “Finding the Contrast,” a desperate and pleading number), a  trio (“Keeping the Koy” and “(I)”), between one and many (“Why,” performed in silence) or in the solitude of only one (“Pain of Truth.”)

Unison wasn’t a strong point and (as per Insurgo’s usual), lighting wasn’t spectacular.

However, the choreography was distinctly modern but not contemporary, which seems to be an increasingly endangered characteristic  nowadays. The nuances of each piece varied to fit the dancers, which exemplifed the small cast and fortified the artistic maturity of the choreographer.

Beyond technique, the willingness to take risks shone through the entire show, making it a refreshing alternative to multimillion dollar productions elsewhere. This flying-leap tendency gave “The Crowded Chair” an edginess that made it well-suited to Insurgo and, for that matter, a young and ambitious choreographer.

Janell Burgess, a Vegas local with credits from Jubilee! and Peepshow, is currently in Nigeria as a judge for “Maltina Dance All,” Africa’s top family dance program.

Stay tuned: a discussion with Burgess about her perspective from the Strip to the sub-Saharan is coming soon.

Check out her blog in the meantime.

Janell Burgess

Photo by and (c)2007 Jina Lee

The dream wedding of dance and drama is showcased on a reality show-style website called Dance 212.

The Web series, now beginning its third season,  follows five dancers from five different second companies (Tap City Youth Ensemble, Taylor 2, ABT II, Graham II and Ailey II.)  The daily episodes are presented video blog-style and aren’t necessarily about dance–hence the “reality TV” side of the relationship.

This can be both good and bad and whether you’ll like it probably depends on why you’re visiting the site in the first place. Although there is footage of some excellent dancing, it’s usually interspersed with content that showcases the personality under all that technique. (This also isn’t inherently bad–dancers are generally interesting people.)

So, bottom line. If you’re looking for footage of Julie Kent performing “Giselle,” this probably isn’t the site for you. However, Dance 212’s focus on younger companies is refreshing and unique and the site is certainly worth a look-see.

(Quick note: an obnoxious downside to the website is the audio track on the homepage. If you’re on a public computer or don’t want to hear a sound-bite about the show à la MTV, mute your speakers before the page loads.)

Photo courtesy of santanartist on Flickr

Vegas Seven, a free weekly publication, sent writer Ben Conmy to Nevada Ballet Theatre in the name of their Health and Fitness column.

An insightful and quietly dignified article resulted. Find it online here and in their current issue at distribution points throughout the city.

If you didn’t tune into the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, fear not. The footage of “Viva ELVIS” performing “Blue Suede Shoes” is available here for your viewing convenience.

Hit up the “Viva ELVIS” page on Facebook to leave comments for them. Use your nifty scroll bar to leave comments for me.

And as the King said so timelessly . . .

Thank you very much.

Autumn in Vegas is a funny thing. We’re not big on carnivals. Crisp leaves are

Photo courtesy of Joaoa on Flickr

sparse  (because palm trees aren’t big on molting.) It may not be hot enough to properly fry an egg on the sidewalk, but you could probably soft-cook it without too much trouble.

For the dance world, though, it’s a little different. Auditions are picking up and productions are kicking off. Promotions are back in full swing.

And for anyone out there that dreams of working for Cirque du Soleil, check out their new Seven Worlds promo video to see exactly what you’re missing.