May 3, 2010
After the exciting night of kittening I had two more days of burlesque fun filled activities to go – Saturday choreography class and Sunday Classic Burlesque movement class.
Saturday’s choreography class ended up being only Jezebel, Cheeky Lane and myself, so we took the time to work out choreography issues Cheeky and I were having with our routines. To sound like a broken record, this class has been super helpful and Jezebel is a great teacher! I always leave that class with a bunch of helpful notes and a renewed confidence in my abilities.
Sunday’s class was a different kind of set up but still helpful. This class is a 4 week intensive on the essentials of burlesque and is taught by the school headmistress herself, Jo Boobs. Only 10 students could register for the class and I was the last one to get in. The class is two hours long each sunday and covers two different skills in the burlesque world.
Weekend #1 was classic burlesque movement and tassel twirling. The movement part was very similar to other classes I took at the Jim Thorpe Burlesque festival and the one Flirting with Burlesque class. Jo taught us all a routine which she has taught over the years and incorporates classic moves she learned from some of the original 1930′s burlesque performers.
For this part of class we did do boa work, so I brought in my own vegan ‘boa’ which was actually a tube scarf I had knitted with fun fur yarn. Although it definitely looked different from the feather boas, I had no problem working it like the other girls in the class while not having to compromise my beliefs. Eventually we will do fan dancing, so I will have to start work on creating a fabric fan like I talked about in a previous post.
The second hour of group was about tassel twirling. Now, for those of you new to the world of burlesque, a typical performance will end with the performer close to nude, but typically they will be covered by small decorated pasties. Some of them are plain, some super decorated, some are comedic and some are tasselled like the ones on the right created (and for sale) by the Cheesecake Burlesque Review etsy shop. Pasties prevent the performer from being nude, which means they can perform in bars and clubs without any laws being broken. At some point in the world of burlesque, tassels became a part of pasties which resulted in the stage burlesque act of tassel twirling.
In the class each student got a pair of practice tasselled pasties which we put on and practiced several different ways of twirling them. As Jo instructed, she pointed out that different techniques work better, or are easier, for different people and we should practice at home to be able to do them all. I think people would be surprised at how natural some of the moves are and how fun it can be. If you ever wanted to try you can always buy premade pasties or make them yourself following directions that can be found online.
April 26, 2010
First off, my apologies that I haven’t been updating this very regularly. With the excitement of Friday, I have been very busy trying to pull together everything I need by friday. The first major daunting task that faced me was having a burlesque name. When I am up on stage helping, they would need a name to call me. As simple as this sounds, this name would become part of my persona, and hopefully will be on posters and ads in the future. This was a major decision!
When people first started asking me what my burlesque name would be, I usually said “something German sounding.” I am of German heritage, and having studied the language, I love the instant reaction people have to typically German sounding women’s names. Think: Helga, Heidi, Olga. When you hear them, you probably have some kind of thoughts of beer steins and dirndls. The other thing I wanted was some kind of pun. I am a huge fan of puns, which are fortunately very prevalent in burlesque naming conventions.
Saturday morning I woke up, started the laundry, made some vegan waffles and began brainstorming names. I talked with my friend Caitlin who has lived in Hamburg for awhile. She helped me come up with a list of typically German names and words that the average person would know how to pronounce in German. When she typed ‘Anja’ my affinity for puns was roused. Anja = On ya _______. Wonderful!
I came up with the name ‘Anja Bach,’ and pleased as punch I began to brainstorm it. Ends up the name had already been taken by a drag artiste in England. Drats! I brainstormed again…..’Anja Knees!’ Taken by a drag queen in Seattle! Double drats! At this point I was beginning to feel beaten by my own pun. The only other thing I could think of was ‘Anja Face’ which I found very racy but clever. I posted about the whole situation in the yahoo groups stage names- burlesque database site that keeps a track of the different burlesque monikers used all over the world to make sure no one duplicates a previously established artist. Still unsure of the name I decided to go to my second choreogrpahy class at the New York School of Burlesque and ask Jezebel Express.
Sadly, due to the 2/3 line not running, I was late to class. I walked in and Jezebel explained that she was walking us through an act and pointing out various chorepgraphy tips and hints. It was very helpful and made me realize the importance of even the smallest gesture, like how big a role your hands play in focusing the audience.
After class I asked Jezevel about ‘Anja Face.’ She laughed, said it was clever, but did agree it was pretty racy. When I imagine myself performing, I see myself doing more comedy-satire kinds of things so I felt the name did not match the persona I hoped to have. The problem was I didn’t have anything else thought up.
I got home from the class and cooked a big dinner or vegan goodness for my partner and I, watched a movie, and sunk into a lump for the night. While continuing to sew stars onto my bra, I decided to check my email. Someone from the yahoo group had posted a reply listing different name ideas since Anja Bach and Anja Knees had been taken:
Anja Likeacheapsuit, Anja Face, Anja Keister….
I was so happy I could cry. It was a clever, it was German, it was a pun, it was everything I had hoped for. I instantly began researching it. No one on facebook, no one on myspace, no website, it wasn’t popping up anywhere! I had found my name. I spent the rest of the night setting up a gmail account and a facebook page for Anja Kesiter. I also entered my name into the burlesque name database. I should have gone to bed earlier, but I worked off the excitement instead. I had a name, which meant I could be on stage, start making business cards, network, and all that stuff. I felt like things were really falling into place!
So, check me out! Friend me on facebook! Drop me a line here telling me what you think about the name. And to finalize this post, I leave you with a picture of this facebook event. Read carefully for the pertinent/exciting part:
April 18, 2010
Feeling the burlesque bug biting all day Friday, I knew I had to do something productive this weekend to get me closer towards my performance goal. I searched around the internet for shows, shops, whatever I could find to make some progress. It was when I was, once again, looking at the New York School of Burlesque’s website that I found out about $10 choreography classes. I sent the necessary pre-register email for the class and was in.
I was a bit nervous getting ready for the class (do I take the heels or not? Should I bring a non-feather boa in case the instructor asks us to do boa work? Should I wear a skirt or pants or a skirt over pants?!?) but luckily I pulled it all together and got to the class with a few minutes to spare. When I made it to the dance studio located in the lower east side of Manhattan there were two other girls waiting for the class. I felt awkward and excused myself to go change into workout pants. When I got back another girl had shown up, and during the class one more girl arrived late making the class 5 people in total. The instructor entered, I put on my heels and the class got started.
Jezebel Express, who was the instructor for the class, had us all sit on the dance floor and introduce ourselves and our experience with dance and burlesque. It ended up that the other girls were all aspiring burlesque performers too,
and I felt much more comfortable. During the class Jezebel went over different ways to improve your choreography such as different ways to sex up a walk, how to circle all parts of your body, simple ways to choreograph music. Jezebel was so nice and approachable and even stayed after class to answer more questions we had when the studio time ran out. She seemed really excited about the class and how she could gear the workshops towards exactly what we want to achieve while working towards our first performances.
After the class, a few of the other girls and I walked downstairs and discussed our burlesque plans till next class, which resulted in finding out more info about the Slipper Room‘s show that night. I spent the time until the show that night looking for some music to possibly choreograph to and eating a delicious dinner at Kate’s Joint, a great vegetarian place near the Slipper Room. Side note: I had the southern fried tofu with mashed potatoes, gravy, and broccoli, it was great!
Then I was off to the Slipper Room, where I luckily got a table close to the front, sat myself down with a rum and coke, and waited for the show to begin. The place filled up pretty quickly but my partner showed up right before the lights dimmed and the go-go dancers came out. The show contained sets from Trixie Little & The Evil Hate Monkey, Mstickle and Darlinda Just Darlinda. I enjoyed all the burlesque, but the crowd was a little too “frat boy” for me and I was getting frustrated with the disrespectful things a bachelor party was yelling from the back. My partner and I ended up leaving after the second set of burlesque performances, which was still a great amount of entertainment for a $5 cover. All the performers were great, and Darlinda just Darlinda did some stuff that shocked me and I am too shy to mention on this blog! My favorite act of the night was Trixie Little & the Evil Hate Monkey so I’ll include a youtube video of them below so you can experience some of their magic. If they come to a town near you, I highly suggest you check them out!