Valentine Showcase Sendoff into 2014!

(pastie wearing, tassell twirling, boa fluffing, hat tippin, pole jamin’ good time!)

We just had the most crowded showcase to date!  People were packed in like sardines in a sardine can to see all of the great performances by the students. I honored each student with one adjective (and a box of chocolates, of course) which described what they brought to that particular showcase. they were: athleticism, fun, theatricality, sensuality, and boldness. I had decided to perform first- and to finally rock out.  Enough with the sad dances of 2013. This new year and new momentum was perfect for a rock out moment. I wanted to really go for it: red dress, red gloves, 7-inch heels, red roses, a violin, and pasties (you get the picture).  Miss “Boldness” had an anti-valentines dance that pointed out the materialism associated with the holiday. Miss “Sensuality” performed with a large, red ostrich boa and imagined that the boa represented a lover whom she kept going back to even if it was wrong (I’m sure many people can identify with that).  It was a very sensual piece.  Miss “Athleticism” kept it simplistic with a pole dance- no props, just her precision and flow to make it great.   Mr. Theatricality donned a military uniform and wooed the audience with a burlesque dance using the chair and slowly removed the uniform, stopping with the pants. Such a tease!  He later wowed everyone again with a very, very noir pole dance to “My Funny Valentine.”

The showcase was bookended with another rock out moment…and sparkly red pasties….with tassells. Miss “Fun” and I closed the night.

I would like to take this time to say that the showcases are held about every other month. Students who take private lessons are welcome to perform if they desire. Exotic dance is what you want it to be- no pasties if you don’t want to! AFV Exotic Arts is about empowerment and for you to decide what you do or don’t want to do. You are a choreographer in the studio and in your life 🙂

Dance as Therapy

I had decided to perform a dance at the October Student Showcase and dedicate it to all of the good times I had with my father. He passed away on October 12th, 2013, of cancer. I wanted to honor him in a way that he would have loved. The showcase was exactly two weeks after the day he passed away so I knew that this was something I needed to brave through. I honestly didn’t know another way to mourn or to celebrate his life better than with a dance. When I introduced it, I started to cry and I explained to the audience that this is how I deal with pain or sadness.  A woman got up from her seat, hurried to the center of the studio where I stood, and hugged me. She said that she had lost her mother recently and she understood what I was going through. Even though this was extremely personal for me to do and even though I cried in front of complete strangers who had never set foot in the studio until that night, I felt that it was important for me to be vulnerable in front of others to show that it’s okay to feel and dance and cry to let the emotions show through the body.

This was a great reminder of why I opened the studio. I wanted it to be a place where people, men and women, could let go, have fun, and experience releases if they needed to.

New Orleans Burlesque Festival

I thought it was about time I visit New Orleans. This is where my grandparents met decades ago and I’ve always said, “if it wasn’t for that town, I wouldn’t be here.” It was the 5th Annual New Orleans Burlesque Festival and what a perfect excuse to go visit. I drove down with one of my male students and we stayed in the Cornstalk Hotel, a boutique hotel in the French Quarter, and oh my, what a place! After exploring New Orleans, I couldn’t think of another place I would have wanted to stay. Anyway, after we got scrubbed up at the hotel we strutted over to Harrah’s Casino to see the Men’s Burlesque show, “Strut.” I was excited because I had two front row tickets and didn’t need my binoculars. I had forgotten to bring them anyway. Overall, the acts were humorous. What was disappointing was the low attendance. Seems like there were only 50 or 60 in attendance in the very large casino theatre.
The next morning, we took a workshop from one off the male performers, Ray Gunn. When I told him that I was a studio owner in Charlotte and was also a pole dancer, he asked me if I allowed males to take from me. All I had to do was point to Andrew, my student. Ray got up to shake my hand. As a male pole and burlesque performer, he recognized the struggle that men have in a very female dominated art form of both pole and burlesque. He said that so many studios would not let him in or he knew others who were shunned away. I told him that everyone is welcome in my studio. In fact, it’s my goal to have just as many male students as I do female.

Next show: The House of Blues to see The Bad Girls of Burlesque. Women from all over the world performed solo acts and portrayed some sort of bad character. Honestly, I had expected more visceral or shocking performances considering the title of the show. However, I thought all of the performances were quite tame. Of course, it was almost a sold out show and I had wished the people there had also seen the men’s show.

The highlight of the trip was happening upon a pole at Saints and Sinners, Channing Tatum’s bar on Bourbon street. Look at me name dropping.. oops. So, we ended up there a couple of nights and got on the pole, wowed the patrons, and taught person after person how to pole dance. People would walk into the room where the pole was and stand pressed against the walls and watch us. I’ve been teaching exotic dance for a long time and what I constantly observe is people not giving themselves permission to try it out. The curiosity is there, but many remain pressed against the walls as my student and I pleaded to get them on the pole.
One lady, in particular, gave it a shot. She lit up. Towards the end of the night, her husband told me that he had not see her that happy in a while and wanted to know where to buy a pole for her. He also said what I do is liberating and it helps liberate people – teaching exotic dance, that is. It’s almost as though he knew my business motto : “Liberate Your Radiant Perfection.”
New Orleans was amazing and I plan on going back next year to take more workshops and see more shows. Hopefully all shows, especially the men’s show, will be sold out!