Thursday, 7 June 2012

Act Inspiration

Someone on Twitter recently asked me where I get inspiration for my acts from - well, I am inspired by a huge range of things: sometimes it's a piece of music, a costume idea or a picture that gets me feeling creative! I am mainly inspired by Art Nouveau, the Belle Epoque and the American Golden-Era but each act has different sources and they grow and develop as I work on them...

Breakfast With Audrey
Photographer: Candee Piccies

This is my tribute to the gorgeous Audrey Hepburn - she is a true inspiration, not only in her career but also her private life and attitude. The act was based on what is probably her most iconic role as Holly Golightly in 'Breakfast at Tiffanys' and the dress was a custom replica made by Louise O'Mahony, who added a reverse zip for easy removal onstage! I used music from the motion picture (Hubcaps and Taillights by Mancini) and a beautiful orchestral arrangement of Moon River for the fan dance.

Broadway Belle
Photographer: Scott Chalmers

This act was inspired by the music - I was originally looking for a good, music-only version of 'Too Darn Hot' for a 1920's Charleston routine I was thinking of doing. However I came across a fabulous arrangement of the overture to 42nd Street and fell in love - the music moves through so many moods and styles that the act pretty much choreographed itself! I kept a little of the original 1920's feel with the opening gown and the shimmy dress, but the rest of the act was inspired by the classic showgirl.

Photographer: Scott Chalmers

This was originally inspired by a gorgeous poster I saw at an alternative arts fair, by the artist Aly Fell - it was in the style of Art Nouveau and was a modern interpretation of the Absinthe Fairy. I loved the dark yet sexual tones of the image and wanted to create an act that captured the same mood. I was also inspired by the choreography of Loie Fuller (credited with the first performance of a serpentine dance) and the modern interpretations by Jody Sperling. The music was tricky to find as I knew exactly what I was looking for and many hours were spent on YouTube and Spotify finding the perfect track. The costume was inspired by Victorian mourning wear, sparked when I was gifted a beautiful piece of 1890s applique taken from a mourning dress, which I incorporated - very carefully! - into the costume.

Photographer: Scott Chalmers

Originally this was inspired by butterflies and fairies (yes, I'm a girl!) and I wanted to create an act that utilised my ballet training. This was the third act I ever put together and has gone through many transitions and costume changes, finally featuring these incredible, Art Deco inspired wings, again made by Louise O'Mahony. As the act developed I drew on the story of the Cottingley Fairies, and added elements that made the basic routine feel more magical. The music is actually the theme from the movie 'Papillon' but has such a beautiful melody and atmosphere that it is the one part of the act that I've never changed!

Dancer and the Pearl
Photographer: Scott Chalmers

I wanted to create a basic fan-dance, as several of my acts incorporated fans but I didn't have a dedicated act on it's own. I was inspired by the Ziegfeld Follies, Sally Rand and the opulence of the 1920's to create a costume literally dripping with pearls and crystals. The music, again, was tricky as I knew what I wanted but couldn't find it. Eventually my Granddad and I sat down and listened to some of his old records and we eventually struck gold with a fabulous Glenn Miller track.

Photographer: Candee Piccies

This act was created in a very short space of time, unusually, to order. I was booked at short notice to perform as part of Circus Burlesque at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2010 - the show was based around the seven deadly sins and I was asked to take the sin of Lust (hence the name!) So, with around two weeks to go before heading up to Edinburgh I asked friends to recommend me some suitably lusty sounding music (Mancini came up trumps again here!) and looked for inspiration from classic showgirl costumes and choreography. The costume has gone through one or two alterations (only the skirt, made by Millie Dollar remains the same) but this act has become my most requested routine ever!

Photographer: Scott Chalmers

Inspired, obviously, by Peacocks! I simply wanted to create something beautiful and colourful - This is another of my older acts and is onto about the fifth costume incarnation! It began as a fan-dance en-pointe with a very basic (and badly self-made) costume, and has developed to include a unique interpretation of the Belle Epoque's iconic serpentine dance, with a costume inspired by Art Nouveau and the Ziegfeld Follies.

Photographer: InaGlo

Many years ago, on Strictly Come Dancing, I saw an amazing routine by two professional showdancers - I wanted to perform an act with the same energy and joie-de-vivre as these incredible performers: and the music was pretty damn awesome as well! The costume is inspired by my love of leopard print, and classic showgirl outfits, and is onto its third redevelopment already!

Photographer: Scott Chalmers

Sugar was born out of my longing to create a simple yet stunning showgirl striptease - I was inspired by classic costuming and choreography, and my addiction to glitter! It's as simple as that really. The music I pulled from an old, retired act of mine (called Victorian Lady - I only performed it three times, it wasn't very good!) and is another Glenn Miller track. The name came from the original costume, which was made of very fine, sequinned mesh and looked like spun sugar!

To The Pointe
Photographer: Ravey Davey

This act was inspired by the music - "That Man" by Caro Emerald.- I heard it and was immediately up and dancing: it is a modern piece but retains the feel of 1950s swing and jazz. I had a vision of running around the stage en-pointe, and realised that although several performers dance in pointe shoes, very few of these acts are upbeat. The costume came out of the choreography, as this aspect fell into place very quickly, and is loosely inspired by Film Noir and old detective movies.

Older Acts...
Over the years I have created and retired many acts. Reasons range from my not liking the act any more, to simply having too many on offer! Some of them are waiting in the wings for a time when I might come back to them (I *may* look at Phoenix again in the future) or for when they are requested specifically (Angel is non-striptease so may be suitable for other events, and Snowstorm is a good 'winter' themed act), whereas others are gone for good.

Angel was inspired by Loie Fuller and Jodi Sperling
Ariadne's Thread was inspired by the story of the Minotaur's labyrinth
Cirque Noir was my signature routine for a while as it was inspired by, and performed to, Dani California by The Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
Falling Feathers was my first foray into a classic showgirl striptease and was inspired by the classic showgirls... obviously!
Jewellery Box was not inspired by anything in particular and was only performed twice
Late for a Date was my second act and was a cheesecake striptease, inspired more by the music (Be-Bop-A-Lula) than any concept or other influences.
Money was created for a Seven Deadly Sins themed event and was inspired by the sin of Avarice
Paradise Lost was inspired by the Bird of Paradise and the beautiful colours, and by a gorgeous dance routine I saw performed once to the music I used for this (Uninvited by Alanis Morrisette)
Phoenix From The Flames was inspired by far-eastern mythology and the legend of the phoenix
The Red Shoes was inspired by the Hans Anderson story of the girl who dances herself to death in cursed pointe shoes, and the movie of the same name.
Snowstorm was inspired by snow and ice and was intended as a Christmas or winter-themed act
Victorian Lady was inspired by the idea that the Victorians were all quite refined and stuck-up, but were actually a little bit naughty behind closed doors!
The Waitress was my first ever act and was a cheesecake striptease with a very loose storyline!

I view all of my acts as investments, in respect of time, money, effort and development - none of them are exactly the same as the first time I performed them, and I doubt they will remain as they are indeterminately! Several I have changed the choreography, most of them have had costume revamps and they will continue to grow and change with me as I grow and learn as a performer.

1 comment:

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