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Burlesque With A Hitch…Not Just For The Birds!

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On the evening of the anniversary of Alfred Hitchcock’s birthday, the moon was full and if you weren’t at the Masquerade for Mon Cherie Presents “Burlesque with a Hitch,” then you truly missed out on a suspenseful evening full of tease and mystery. The stage was set with spooky black-and-white style movies in mind – a gray brick wall on each side of the stage, a white shower curtain in the center, and Hitchcock’s famous silhouette on the right hand side. The Emcee of Mystery and Suspense Miss Mason welcomed the crowd with a dark “Good Evening!” as Alabaster Juju became Alfred Hitchcock incarnate, profiling behind the famous silhouette. (I was surprised at just how close his profile was to that of Hitchcock’s!) Of course, Hitchcock’s creepy, curious theme music played during this entire intro (it still gives me chills just thinking about it!) and we weren’t even allowed to see Juju’s best Hitchcock face yet. Each act that we were about to watch was based on one of Hitchcock’s icon films. People were so intrigued to see this Mon Cherie Presents event that they had driven in from all over the southeast, including quite a few from Alabama, Tennessee, and North Carolina. Several well-known local performers also came to witness the burlesque homage to Hitchcock’s work as well.

The opening number started with the chilling music from Psycho as the lovely Katarina Laveaux (special guest from Birmingham, AL), wearing an evening gown with a blue boa, glided across the stage to perform her interpretation of the infamous shower scene. The tension and suspense were high as she teased the audience behind the shower curtain, dauntily dancing her way to certain doom when the music came to a close and Norman Bates walked across the stage with a knife.

The shower scene removed and staged clean once again, it was time to lighten the mood with showgirl glamour provided by Fonda Lingue’s interpretation of Hitchcock’s The Pleasure Garden. Juju as Hitchcock incarnate made a brief voyeuristic appearance on stage, giving the audience pause to wonder what exactly was going to happen to the graceful Fonda. Dazzling in jewels, Fonda did a glamorous feather fan dance, where – like a coy bird – she lured the audience into her own flower garden. Luckily, she survived her encounter with the ghoulish Hitchcock.

The bird of flight motif continued as Nicolette Tesla (special guest from The Bluestocking Revue in Charlotte, NC) graced the stage to perform her rendition of Hitchcock’s Birds. The pretty bird Tesla, in her retro skirt suit topped off with a fancy black hat and matching black gloves, moved elegantly as she danced. She even had a few well-concealed tricks up her sleeves as surprise feathers flew out during her glove tease. The audience was completely dazzled by this lady in blue.

Next up, a bold, sparkly Asian queen sauntered on stage. The queen Stormy Knight commanded attention as she executed a fierce oriental burlesque dance inspired by Hitchcock’s East of Shanghai (original movie title was Rich and Strange). Wearing a long dark Asian silk dress with an elaborate queen headpiece and matching gloves, she gyrated in a snake-like manner, using a chair prop to help with her bump and grind tease.

Last act before the break was based on the movie To Catch a Thief with Peachz de Vine and Stage Slave Gavin (special guests from Purrrlesque in Greensboro, NC) putting on the ritz on stage. Peachz and Gavin looked like a couple of socialites out on the town – her in a sparkly black ball gown with matching black gloves and him in a tuxedo with top hat. The audience was kept in anticipation as they wondered who was the thief. Turns out Peachz stole a lot from Gavin, but ended up a little stripped herself.

And then there was pause for intermission, drinks, chatting with friends and the entertainers, buying merchandise from vendors, purchasing (hopefully) winning raffle tickets, and of course, dancing! DJ 313 and Jennocide provided the evening’s booty shaking tunes. When it was time to start the show again, Miss Mason took it away with a fun game of Alfred Hitchcock trivia. The right answer earned you a raffle ticket. (This is where I learned that the blood from the original Psycho movie shower scene was Hershey’s chocolate syrup.) Jacqueline Trade was there to help provide comic relief with Miss Mason and she also helped with the set design and set up. Ruby Le Chatte played the part of the stage maid picking up items after each performance.

As soon as Miss Mason’s trivia was done, she directed us to look towards the back of the room as The Chameleon Queen appeared for her version of Monkey Paw, The Re-Telling. As the music started, The Chameleon Queen – looking every bit like a voodoo priestess – emerged from the back of the crowd. She then began dancing her way through the crowd to the stage. Once on stage, The Chameleon Queen performed a hypnotic tribal dance with a box, a small coffin, and a monkey paw. She clearly placed an enchanting spell on the audience as she “shocked the monkey” paw. On the night of the full moon, even Hitchcock should beware of this voodoo goddess!

Keeping with the chilling Hitchcock theme and continuing on to another of his favorite themes –voyeurism – a large window was brought out onto the middle of the stage. Enter a ghoulish, but very accomplished violinist, Paul Mercer, and one Evil Sarah and you have a wicked version of The Rear Window. Between the way he played that fiddle – hitting those hair-raising notes – and the anticipation of what Evil Sarah may do or what may happen to her, this was one of the spookiest acts of the show. She teased her way into something more comfortable and for the really imaginative, something that could be twisted and sinister (especially if you are a horror movie fan!).

Now that the audience’s nerves and interests were piqued, the debonair magician Chad Sanborn accompanied by his sexy assistant, Catatonic Raucous, interpreted the The Lady Vanishes through magic. First, the lady in a red satin dress appeared while Sanborn took a seated break to admire his vision brought to life. Intrigued by the beauty, they danced and teased until he made Catatonic and her red dress vanish. Obviously missing his muse, he made her reappear, but with a little less on than first time the audience saw her. The two filled the room with a sexy, breathtaking magic.

Speaking of breathtaking, the final act had every bit of suspense and wonder that came to be associated with this special evening. Again the audience was directed to the back of the room as graceful aerialist Sadie Hawkins (from Blast-Off Burlesque) displayed marvelous feats of acrobatics in tribute to Hitchcock’s Rope. Sadie kept in look with Hitchcock’s famous black and white films, wearing black and performing her tricks on a white rope. All this can be described as is simply – shock and awe, which was the perfect way to end the event! I think Hitchcock would’ve been pleased with all the entertainers’ tributes to his films.

Not only was this the anniversary of Hitchcock’s birthday, but it was a very special 18th birthday for Amanda Stewart, daughter to Shannon and Dave Byers. Amanda was excited to see her first burlesque show and was even given the royal treatment from Mon Cherie Presents and the Byers, who are longtime friends of the burlesque community. There were only three tables in the front of the house and Amanda’s was the one in the dead center. At the end of the evening, everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to Amanda and Sugar Dolls provided delectable chocolate cupcakes topped with strawberries for the occasion!

Lastly, before the curtain call and final “Good Evening!” was said, Mon Cherie Presents held a raffle drawing for prizes. Prizes included gift certificates for Sacred Heart Tattoo in Little 5 Points, Village Smoke, The Sugar Dolls (confectionary treats), Re-Vamp by Darbella (makeup services), and also hand carved boxes by Cory Frison, Hitchcock-inspired necklaces by Fat Girl Art, Massage Wicks candles, and a Lux De Ville handbag. This lucky writer’s date, burlesque emcee and dapper crooner, New Orleans Jon won her the Hitchcock-inspired necklaces. If you weren’t one of the lucky winners, there was still time at the end of the evening to purchase merchandise from the raffle sponsors as well as from vendors Damon Mace of Aries Chainmail and Deidre Reece of Jezebel Blue.

If you missed this amazing event, all I can say is – be sure not to miss the next Mon Cherie Presents event!

 

(photo by Shawn Doughtie)

Art

Rain and Fire in Sedona

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Ange Alex

A rainy day in Sedona? What are we going to do. Everything we have planned is outdoors. I am pretty sure that is why people come to Sedona, for the beautiful OUTDOOR activities, like hiking, biking, Jeep tours, viewing the red rocks and photography. 

What to do, what to do.

Oh, I know. I had the privilege of meeting some great artists that work in fire and glass! The perfect indoor activity when your outdoor plans are washed away!

The Melting Point in Sedona, conveniently located across the street for the Whole Foods (two birds with one stone, yeah!), is a group of artist focusing on creating and teaching others how to create as well.

When we entered the facilities, it was like entering a fine arts gallery. So many beautiful works of glass art. Jordan Ford is the general manager and one of the Artists. He came out of the workshop and told us the rules, then brought us into the fold. 

We were about to become glass blowers! 

Jordan had a love for the natural world from a very early age. He went on to study geology in college but that is when he discovered glass. He currently has Bachelor’s Degrees in both Earth Science/Geology and Visual Arts/Glassblowing.

Jordan says , “It’s the process of blowing glass that drives me. I find the physical act of making glass so overwhelmingly fascinating. I approach most of my work with a consideration for the more classical techniques – it’s the framework that I use as a jumping point for experimentation.”

Not only is Jordan incredibly talented, he is really personable and extremely funny. He made everyone in the room feel at ease and we all often irrupted in bouts of laughter.

Another artist that was helping us is Austin Littenberg. Austin became interested in the art of glass blowing at age 16 after watching a documentary. He spent over 12 years developing his craft and learning the technical precision needed to work at this level.

Austin views the many ways Art presents itself and is in tune with it all, and it shows.

Clearly these two artist love what they do, and I for one am grateful for their expertise and their willingness to show the world their art.

They worked with us to create a beautiful cactus, complete with three flowers, one for each kid, and a Sedona rock like base. We loved the patience they showed and the skill to make us feel at ease. We never felt like  we were about to do something we just couldn’t. It felt like we had been doing this before. That is the measure of a true instructor. 

Our work of art was complete and we left there feeling accomplished and quite honestly, amazing! 

Both Austin and Jordan have remarkable skills but also wonderful comedic timing. They were a absolutely pleasure to meet and I look forward to keeping up with their art in the future.

If you find yourself in Sedona and want to meet some really wonderful people, stop by The Melting Point and say hello! While you’re there, blow some glass!

How could I forget one of them most important things; They have a studio dog! Austin brings his sweet baby girl to work with him and she is an angel! We loved her! Make sure you give her some love when you visit!

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Artists to Watch

Cry With Us! Puddles Pity Party in Orlando

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Ange Alex

I owe him a poem:

Here’s a story of a sad clown who one night in February was traveling through O-town. 

He brought a suitcase and a lot of gum, he brought music and videos and tons of fun.

He sang high but mostly he sang low, and he put of one hell of a good show.

He gave a bearded guy a cupcake and danced with a lady, a wolf he would make

There is no doubt he is a boss sir, he even got love from Kevin Costner.

Fans filled the plaza for a night of delight as the 7 foot clown gave us some real insight.

He sang Bowie and Queen and even some Who, also Cash, Lorde and “Let it go” too

Videos played of pets and babies crying, also beautiful artwork and people smiling.

Last night Orlando was anything but mad as we showed much love for a clown that is sad.

Ok, I’d cry too after that poem. Here’s some more info:

If you haven’t been to see a Puddles Pity Party show, you are missing out. 

The show had me smiling and laughing so hard my stomach hurt, but I was also moved so many times by the range of Puddles voice. True entertainment never gets old and I have a feeling he is going to last forever.

I loved the interaction he had with the crowd. He pulled numerous people up to help him on stage and all of them were good sports, one man even singing the entire song, “All by myself” karaoke style! The show was so well thought out and planned but with room for some hilarious improv. Especially at the end when he pulled the 3 fans from the audience dressed like clowns. At the end of them performing together, Puddles suddenly remembers that he is scared of clowns! Genius! 

Hands down one of the best performances I’ve seen in years.

 

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Dance

“20/20:Visionary”: Looking Back, Looking Forward

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Photograph by Charlie McCullers, courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

Last weekend (March 18-20) the Atlanta Ballet gifted the city with “20/20: Visionary,” three pieces, including a world premiere, presented at the Cobb Energy Center.

The world premiere, “Playground,” by British choreographer Douglas Lee, belied its name by being a shadowy piece danced between upright, rolling chalkboard set pieces. Prepared for a lighthearted, joyful expression of childhood, I was surprised that the work instead exposed the darker side of childhood memories. There were some light moments, such as the towering billboard inscribed with multiple lines reading, “Jackie must remember the steps” – clearly a humorous aside about Jackie Nash, one of the most capable company members and perhaps the quickest study in rehearsal. There were some easily-seen choreographic devices–a lot of theme and variation, even more pushing around of set pieces–but there were a few exceptional moments as well, including intricate, slow-motion manipulation of a dancer’s body by another dancer.

Pen-Yu Chen & Tara Lee in “Boiling Point.” Photo by C McCullers, courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

The opening work, “Boiling Point,” by Darrell Grand Moultrie, was playfully performed at breakneck speed. Dancers are often told to “make it look easy,” and the company took that concept to heart. Highlighted against the men in black costumes, the women wore bits of metallic fabric, providing splashes of intense color and exposing powerful bodies with long muscles. The piece began with the stage space open almost to its fullest, and the dancers running across like a rushing river. They rolled, twisted, turned, and slid like water itself. The choreography juxtaposed synchronicity with counterpoint, traditional with innovation. There was a gargouillade, rarely seen even in classical ballets. The lines of the bodies were critical to the piece, and often layers deep. The flow was almost nonstop, with only an occasional flick of a wrist or toss of a head to provide momentary stasis. The standout was Christian Clark, who sometimes nearly managed to integrate himself into the group but then something distinctive and powerful in his dancing drew the eye to him again.

“Red Clay” from “Home in 7.” Photo by C McCullers, courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

“Home in 7,” a work by Amy Siewert, closed the concert. A portrait of Atlanta, the ballet was a rich tapestry woven from music, spoken word, and movement. Performed in 7 segments to a libretto written and performed by Marc Bamuthi Joseph and an intriguing, haunting string score composed and performed by Daniel Bernard Roumain, the dance, too, was a poem, shimmering like summer moonlight on the Chattahoochee. John Welker opened the ballet with tiny explosions of movement “Secrets.” Perhaps the most enchanting segment was “Home of the Braves:” 5 men using baseball imagery, holding their formation as they slid precisely between pitches and catches. “Red Clay” evoked August nights, intolerance, and redemption—Atlanta history, a story familiar to many. I first saw this ballet in 2011, and it has grown in depth as the dancers have matured technically and emotionally. Atlanta loves its ballet company, and never more than when it showcases its home city.

John McFall is ending his tenure with the company at the end of this season. For newcomers to Atlanta Ballet offerings, this will have been a dynamic performance. For long-time supporters, it will have been an opportunity to reflect on his legacy. There are a couple more opportunities to see the company under his watch, and then he will pass the torch to Gennadi Nedvigin, the company’s fourth artistic director. Stay tuned!

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