Both lively and spell-bounding, burlesque isn’t just about dazzling costumes and incredible stunts. In fact, it’s come to empower women of all backgrounds and walks of life.
Not only is Scarlet Bell Burlesque preparing to amaze audiences at their upcoming Fringe World Festival show, The Weird & The Beautiful, but they also impart their skills and confidence to ladies learning the tricks of the trade. We had a fabulous chat to Foxxy Curves (AKA Kiera), Scarlet Bell Burlesque’s Artistic Director, to get the scoop on their work and things burlesque!
First of all, we love that The Weird & The Beautiful is all about celebrating uniqueness and beauty. What propelled you to take inspiration from the theatrical genre of Vaudeville?
Well, the whole idea really started when our producer, Elle Entice, heard’ Funhouse by P!nk on the radio. It popped a vision in her head of circus tents and magic shows, and it grew from there. And, of course, Funhouse makes a cameo in the show, right at the end. We really wanted to capture the old-time vibe of the circus, so the Vaudevillian influences, rather than the modern circuses that we see today. So from there it grew, we did some research and got some great insight for Burlesque Research Star Dollar Dazzler, and now we’re nearly ready to show everyone what we’ve done!
From circus-inspired burlesque to clowns and magicians, we know the show is going to be a treat. Tell us more about the show’s artistic direction, including costuming and the cast!
We love giving our Troupe a theme and seeing what they create – and they’ve really impressed in the past! From Alice in Wonderland to criminals from history for last year’s Smooth Criminals, they take the theme and turn it up down and all around to create something truly unique and inspired. This year, we’ve got all sorts joining us from Clowns to Snake Ladies! The Troupe do a lot of their costume work themselves, as we support them by teaching them tips and tricks they can use well beyond this show. We take inspiration from the theme but put a very Burlesque twist on it – so you can expect to see a silk veil here and a feather there, as well as thousands of rhinestones, when we finally take the stage.
In watching your show, we’d no doubt be inspired. As we know, Scarlet Bell Burlesque also happens to offer different types of classes including feather fan, classic burlesque, neo, strip, chair and more. What do your students tend to take away from these classes?
We really pride ourselves on creating a Family at Scarlet Bell. We get to know our students and we support them through classes, and many become really close friends. I think the Burly Fam we create is the biggest thing that our students take away from us and what sets us apart – making lifelong friends, and even our students’ partners, husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends. They become a part of our family as well, and are welcomed with open arms – even if they don’t dance! In the classes, students don’t just learn routines. They learn techniques, skills and history, which we think is vital to understanding what we’re doing, who we should be researching and knowing about, and who paved the way for us to strip, tease and strut!
Is there anything you’d like to say to those who aren’t confident enough to begin taking classes?
Take the step and just do it! There are no regrets, ever, and never any judgement! My favourite intro class I (Foxxxy) ever taught was one where all 6 students were flying solo – none bought a friend, there was no one who knew each other… and watching them get to know each other and grow and develop friendships was spine-tingling! Even now they’re inseparable in classes and enrol together, they’ve found their Burly Fam and we couldn’t be happier. That’s all we hope for – that we can give them the confidence to make friends, empower them as people, and teach the art of tease!
With that said, we’d love to know what personally drew you to the burlesque scene and performing in general. Was there a specific lightbulb moment?
Oh, I’ve always been a lover of the spotlight – but more about being a part of a team. I grew up involved in making music, with concert band and school band under my belt, and tasted theatre at uni and never looked back. I got into community theatre out in the Goldfields (shout out to Stage Left Theatre Troupe for casting me as Lady Marmalade in Disco Inferno!) which really empowered me as a strong and sensual woman. It didn’t take me long to then find burlesque, find my people, and make magic, and that’s my favourite thing of all – performing my stories, with my friends, with likeminded people – it doesn’t matter what gender, sexuality, race, background or anything, that we are all a part of something magical, which feels incredible.
It’s hard to narrow down, but what aspects of burlesque would you say are your favourite?
The costumes are phenomenal and so inspiring. Whether they’re simple or extravagant, the work that goes into them is just amazing. The community we have behind the scenes – costumiers, photographers, tech – that help make everyone that much more special is amazing and never get the credit they deserve! Working with a costumier to bring a vision to life is one of my greatest pleasures and it’s really humbling to them put that vision on a stage, knowing it’s a team effort. I just aim to do it justice every time!
Last but not least, what are you looking forward to the most at Fringe World Festival 2021?
My favourite thing about Fringe is that it’s the one month a year you can wear what you want, be who you are, and be that weirdo, and no one cares. The community and acceptance and support is the best part of Fringe, and sharing that with others. I also love getting out and seeing new shows, and can’t wait to see some this year! Lastly, I love meeting performers and creatives, ones I haven’t crossed paths with yet, and making new connections that will keep moving us all forward in our art.