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Archive for September, 2010

YES! YOU ARE A DANCER!!

Posted on September 30th, 2010

Isadora Duncan changed what it meant to be a dancer! And so can we!

I work/have worked with many many wonderful, talented, amazing performers during my time as a Burlesque Artiste and I often run into the same issue I have with most of wonderful, talented, amazing friends- they don’t value themselves.

I hear constantly

“Ohhh.. but I’m not a dancer”

WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT!!? Because you didn’t take 14 years of ballet when you were a kid? I’m not saying that that doesn’t help but what about the part where you are able to pick up choreography and make up a dance all by yourself without that training? Thats pretty freakin good if you ask me!? So Yes! You are a dancer. No you are not a ballet dancer. You are a BURLESQUE dancer!!! You’re getting paid to dance aren’t you?

My issues with this are that YOU are what is holding YOU back. Half of the battle of being an artist of any kind is having the audacity to say that you are and to believe it. I see lots of my talented performer friends constantly sell themselves short because they don’t think they are good enough. Cut it the fuck out!! Seriously!! You have to be your own best friend and PR person. You tell me you suck and I’m going to start believing you. Can you think of any established performers that are really great at marketing themselves that you might be just as good as (if not better..)?

My other problem is that if we want other people to take us seriously, we need to start taking ourselves seriously. Just because we aren’t ballet dancers doesn’t mean what we are doing isn’t awesome or dance. Shows across the world draw audiences by the hundreds and even thousands. Why do you think that is that they are coming?? Obviously there are a variety of reasons but they also include to see you dance and to see you entertain them whilst dancing. You’re good motherfucker! Calm down already! And in MMYYYYYY opinion- sometimes it is better if you have less dance training because you are more able to think outside the box. Lots of times people with extensive training from other backgrounds will try pass off their specialty as Burlesque performance. Lots of my early work is super indicative of this. I have a dance background so I would just make up something that could’ve been a lyrical jazz solo that was missing the tease. I’ve seriously gotten so carried away that I forget to take anything off and the dance is done. Oops. And honestly? You can only get away with it so many times before you get labelled a one trick pony. One of the other key ingredients in INNOVATION. Its about being creative and doing something like no one else. I think sometimes because other art forms don’t necessarily encourage that, the people who are mega trained can sometimes (and only sometimes) come off kinda boring and unoriginal. I’ve seen it and even though they are mega talented in one aspect- it lacks.

I forget where I copied and pasted this from awhile ago but its important to consider.

Easily accessible art or art considered as Folk art is considered as low art forms because of its status and availability to lower social classes. High art forms are harder to partake in and, therefore, are able to hold their higher status and be considered as a privilege of being part of the upper classes in society.

Ballet=high art because only parents with a higher income can afford to put their kids in those kinds of intensive schools and lessons. Burlesque=low art because everyone can do it! Are you really going to perpetuate this sort of belief system with your shitty attitude? Its important for everyone for you to know how important you are. And Giiiirrll.. you are AMAZING! Stop comparing yourself to other people. This is your journey and only your accomplishments and successes should matter- ya know!? Stop feeling bad. It doesn’t help you. It doesn’t help anyone.

Some cool role models that you should research include:

Isadora Duncan- She changed what it meant to be a dancer. Girl invented modern dance! Boo-ya! People wanted to write her off as just another girl in tights selling sexuality but she took herself seriously and eventually so did everybody else!

Marie Chouinard- She is EPIC! A modern modern dancer who is so innovative! I really dig her. Youtube some of her stuff! Wowzers! And she didn’t start taking dance classes until she was 23!

Can you think of any others?? Please post below in the comments section :)

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Comedy+ Burlesque=Awesome!!!

Posted on September 22nd, 2010

Do You Really Want to Know What Banana Is The Top?

Photo by Ian West

For those of you who don’t know and to hear it one more time for those of you who do, before Burlesque was associated with striptease, it basically meant to parody or satire. Burlesque literally means/meant to make fun of! The first burlesque shows were satires and parodies of lofty, “real” theatre plays. “Ben Hur” became “Bend Her” and so on. As part of our heritage, I personally feel it our duty to take the piss out of everyone and everything! At least some of the time.

Recently I’ve attempted to harangue my mailing list into voting for me as one of Vancouver’s favorite comedians. This based purely on my comedic Burlesque performances. I’m not involved with stand up, improv or sketch (not yet anway). It wasn’t my idea last time but I won a spot in 2009 (also due to a faboo mailing list) and now I want MORE! Its part of my 3 step plan to get good, get noticed, and get paid. I tell the mailing list the reasons why are:

  • 1.) it confuses real comedians
  • 2.) it makes me sound like a bigger deal than i actually am
  • 3.) it will help me in my quest for world domination

All of these reasons are funny because they’re true!! I’m so haha like that. But I have actually received small amounts of what the fuck from stand ups. The issue slash the cool thing that is happening here is that we are creating a new genre of funny that doesn’t really appear anywhere else. Typically you say comedian and people think of stand up or sketch. Now, not only is Burlesque bringing sexy back but Physical Comedy as well! Ok, ok! Obviously Clowns win at physical comedy. But still, they don’t usually dance. And not as many people are scared of us. Ok different people are scared of us but aside from all of that we are helping to create and establish a crazy hybrid of funny and dancing. I’ve only seen a few examples of this running professionally or mainstream. Mr. TV in Vegas or that Evolution of Dance guy. There are some really great opportunities waiting to be developed within all this that I am really excited to be a part of.

There is lots to be said about women and comedy. Usually its stuff like there aren’t as many funny ladies as funny boys, that they’re not as funny, Tina Fey and Sarah Silverman are awesome (Not to mention Kathy and Margaret among others but you get what I’m saying). Bla bla bla. The other way-awesome thing about what is happening is that because this a woman dominated art form; we are finding a place where women are able to find a voice and venue to become comedians. This is fucking awesome if you ask me!! I know that I feel truly at home within this strange Dancemedian genre and I am so grateful to have found it.

The other power of using comedy within BurlyQ is more of that spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down stuff. Comedy can and will soften the blow on matters of serious or political nature (The Daily Show anyone?). When we even just lightly lace our performances with humor, we are taking the edge off something that alot of people consider “scary” or “bad.”  This scary or bad thing that I am talking about is stripping and/or sex in general. Now stripping is part of our heritage as well and is not something to distance ourselves from. Instead we, as performers and WOMEN need to embrace and celebrate the talent and abilities of our sexy cousins. This is another blog post entirely but I see Burlesque being a way to bridge the gap between our genre of Striptease which is  seeing more and more success and celebration and conventional Stripping which hopefully can gain more positive notoriety and respect from the mainstream as well. Its important that we view sex as something that can be fun and laughed at. When we feel positive about sex, the less power it has over us to feel shitty. And when you don’t feel shitty- you don’t need to buy anything to fix yourself. Boo-Ya!!! Be the change you wish to see people. You know its important.

Now there are a few challenges that I can see occurring for us. One involving changing the perception of what comedy is- not only for ourselves and our audience but for “traditional” Comedians. How to do this? Be good. HA! Cause its that easy. But seriously, what its going to require is more research and serious consideration into the how and why of the funny. Effort people effort!!! One thing no one can argue with is success. And how to be successful in any realm of Burlesque is to maintain and improve with the quality and effort. This also means not only lauding the famous stripteasers from our past but also the comedians, physical and otherwise.

The other issue I can see is how we define ourselves and what the global community views as worth promoting. Even though comedy in Burlesque routines is basically part and parcel to pretty much every Burlesque show I have ever been to, when I went to Exotic World this year- I’d say that I saw maybe 6-10 funny numbers? I saw beautiful, I saw epic and holy fuck did I ever see amazing. But gut busting, side splitting, ironically amazingly funny? There were 2 in my judgey judgerson opinion. Not to say that Evil Hate Monkey didn’t deserve the comedy award- cuz he did- but he didn’t have much competition. Aside from Roky Roulette, another competitor in the Boylesque category- and maybe the bananas in our entry for Best Group- there were NO funny numbers in the main categories. I was backstage for abit so maybe I missed some stuff? I am aware that alot of what BHOF stands for involves preserving and treasuring what Burlesque was in its glory but seriously… the lack of funny wasn’t very funny.

I get we need to know where we’ve been-but what about where we are going? And what about the part before it was all about striptease? And what about the comedy in our heritage? Why is it ok for the gentleman to have funny numbers and the ladies are a no? Were there just no funny entries this year? Is it important that we define Burlesque as only classic striptease?? Are funny numbers worth showcasing? Is there a demand for Dancemedians??  P.s I did not make up that word.. Bob Hope did!! I just dont think it caught on for some reason, but like the sexy (and the funny!), I am bringing it back!!!!

But look at me! Making dialogue. OOOOooooooEEEEooooo! As I said before there is alot of opportunity for us Burly Comedian/ennes to change the way basically everyone views comedy and Burlesque.  I will personally rise to any said challenge cuz as I just blathered about for the last page and half.. I think Comedy+ Burlesque=Fucking Awesome!!!

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Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Posted on September 16th, 2010

APRIL SMASH!!!!

©2009 Paul Oostergo
digitalafterimage.com

An article of note that has been doing the rounds on News Feeds across the land is this beauty:

http://www.cracked.com/article_15231_7-reasons-21st-century-making-you-miserable.html

The article deals with why modern life is making you miserable. It’s actually quite brillz!!  One of my favorite points was that we are alot less adept at dealing with annoying people because we are able to tune out or at least try to tune out anything that pisses us off. The result of this being that we are losing our ability to tolerate. And frankly, life at times, can be very very very annoying. So when something or more often someone does something that bothers us, we end up overly aggravated and often over reacting. How this relates to our world of BurlyQ has to do with how we relate to each other and the future of our little nook in the world. The scene everywhere is seeing a continuous influx of new performers from a variety of backgrounds. Some of what makes Burlesque so beautiful (and I’m talking about the Variety!!), has the potential to lead us into some aggravating situations. More people, more variety, more chances for you to not get along with someone. I think its fair to say that not everyone will end up with Best Frenz Forever break in half heart shaped lockets. Chances are, conflict or reactive aggravation will probably rear up now and again. Now I also think, that in Vancouver at least, we for the most part are able to see past our differences and maintain a strong sense of community. However, I don’t think it ever hurts to revisit strategies that could help in terms of dealing with people better. Here are a few things I’ve found helpful when I start to feel the rage (APRIL SMASH!!):

1.)  Stop Reacting or At Least Wait Until You’re Done Your Hissy-fit

I am sooooo guilty of this!!! I’m not sure if its my womanhood or what but I’ve been in a few scenarios that involved hostility or disagreement and my initial reaction usually involves wanting to cry or punch. Not so graceful. Tip #1: Cultivate a super strong sense of self. If you are putting other people’s opinion of you and your ideas above your own, you’re fucked. You are going to take every little bit of that something you didn’t like and turn it into a personal attack. If you are able to say to yourself… well consider the source  or take on a different strokes for different folks type of attitude, you will be able to resolve the conflict WAY easier. Tip #2 If there is no way you can’t be offended or upset; give it a couple of days. Rant to a good friend. Swear you’ll hate them forever but don’t actually act or talk to them like you do. Not yet. Its that same old about writing a letter and not sending it. Give yourself time to calm the fuck down.

2.) Try to See Things from All Points of View

After you have talked your Bestie’s ear off- remember your Bestie, not every single person you both know- try and I mean really really try to see where they might have been coming from. Is there any possible way this situation could have been misconstrued? Can you take into account the life experiences they might have had that lead them to act in such a way? Is there any way you can see yourself in their situation and how maybe just maybe you would’ve reacted the same way? When you try looking into reasons beyond that they are just a **insert terrible adjective and noun here** its usually more of a they are really hurting, or emotionally disconnected or more often than not really really really and I mean really insecure. And usually the reasons for them being so annoying/mean/ridiculous have to do with things that happened to them WAY before you came along and honestly don’t have anything to do with you.

3.) Compliment Sandwich

Now this being said- you have a problem with someone? Deal with it. I’m serious!!! What good is being hurt and bitching about it? Is that helping you? Is that resolving the problem or turning you into a big messy bag of feelings!? You will feel better regardless that you tried, and that you did so properly!! Not by acting like a jerky jerk!! You honestly will win more flies with honey? A spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down? Ok what I’m trying to say is that is in YOUR best interest to be nice when this confrontation goes down. Maybe reacting and yelling or being a total bitch feels awesome, but no one will respond to that positively. NO ONE. Not one person ever. How would you want to be treated? Yelling? Or having someone approach you like a grown up!! The best tool for criticism of any kind is the compliment sandwich. Its Easy!!! Start with a positive greeting!! Try to relate to how they are feeling- then slide in your issue- end with a compliment or an offer on how you think it could be resolved. Then be open to dialogue. Listen! Really listen. Apologize if necessary. Explain your feelings but be available to theirs as well and try to compromise. “I feel” statements are important because you are taking responsibility for your feelings AND the other person doesn’t feel attacked. It is really important if you want to resolve anything to not attack. YOU did this to me! YOU are this and this. No worky. “I FEEL like this when this happened” works alot better. Trust me!

4.) Think Big Picture

In 20 years from now!? Is this really going to matter!? Even right now.. what are the things that absolutely matter the most to you. Focus on what it is YOU are doing. Not what they are doing. I promise you that spending any energy on what they are doing to piss you off is simply a waste of your time. ANNNNNNNNnnnd its not making you happy. Think of the projects or goals of your own that you should/could be working on. Now focus on those instead of wasting energy on angry feelings that don’t benefit you.

5.) If you cant say anything nice…

Don’t say anything at all!!! If whoever it is, is actually the son/daughter of Satan, you don’t need to tell anyone. They will reveal their colors in due time. Just let it go. You can only control your behavior and that is a really great place in start in terms of making our community a better place. Do what you can to treat everyone you work with or encounter with love and respect. Its been working for us so far right!?

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