Student Author Program – Review: Peek-A-Boo RevueFeb 21st, 2013 | By DJ Guest Author | Category: Reviews
by Marissa Bottino for The Dance Journal
Photo by Bill Hebert
This review is part of the Dance Journal’s Student Author Program. Marissa is a senior dance and English major at Muhlenberg College. Marissa performs and choreographs for various Muhlenberg and professional dance concerts. She also works as a lead writing tutor at her school and has been published in the Lehigh Valley Dance Exchange blog as well as previously in The Dance Journal.
Reminiscence of the 1990s Burlesque revival, the Peek-A-Boo Revue, a neo-burlesque troupe, along with The Striptease Orchestra performed to a sold out and highly animated crowd at the World Café Live. Complete with feathers, sequins and audience interaction, the classic strip-tease act offered dancing, singing, and comedy as part of Blow Me A Kiss, the troupe’s fifteenth Valentine’s Day spectacular. Despite being strongly stylized, the performance was a somewhat confusing display of sexuality and an under-whelming good time.
Count Scotchula and Joey Martini, two dapper, sequin-suited hosts, play within the continuum of sexual comedy, ranging from puns to ‘shock-value’ humor. Between vignettes, they leave half of the audience slapping their knees with laughter, and the other half scrunching their faces – something the two openly recognize, much like acknowledging their swearing or pointing out the show’s twenty dollar tickets.
A ‘good old’ showgirl chorus wearing white bedazzled corsets, feathers, and pink red bows on their behinds, enters after opening soloist, Tracey Todd Superstar sings, sways, and slowly strips. The chorus chugs, and wags their fingers with wide eyes and animated faces as if nostalgic for popular Vaudevillian pastimes. Common break-up excuses, like “It’s not you, it’s me,” cause bursts into exaggerated gestures of woe.
Blow Me A Kiss clearly combines modern and traditional forms of Burlesque performance, but less clearly demonstrates how the show speaks to the value in this combination. Hints of irony and satire pervade, especially in the Marty the Martian sketch where a black-haired woman as Liza Minelli sings about falling in love with an eleven-armed alien (especially with one arm between his legs), or when the hilarious Minelli, clearly aware of comedic technique, does her Carnival Cruise bit, rolling around on the stage in an attempt to be sexy, joking about the ‘poop deck’ and ‘muffin tops.’ However, fleeting moments of tongue-in-cheek humor leave the satirical potentials of Neo-Burlesque slightly unsatisfied.
Many of the strip-tease acts follow the same format: dancers slowly remove their gloves, pick up the pace with shimmies, hair tosses, snapping looks and lunges to take off their corsets and baby dolls, and then finally reveal the classic g-strings and tassel pasties. However, each dancer has her own stylistic energy. Blonde Cherry Bomb dances to “Toxic” in her baby blue and black lingerie and umbrella, performing virtuosic vaudevillian tricks of cartwheels, splits, and straddles. Goldi Fox, in tiara and knee-length pink tutu, is tired of innocence and strips down to black leather. Kelli LiMone teases the audience with her sultry singing and classy purple sequin dress. Maybe she won’t strip. Not the case. She is the most aggressive, fluidly and vigorously spinning her body around into staccato contractions. Sophie Sucre pops with her fiery ballroom dance movement vocabulary, petite frame, and intelligent use of stillness and cool struts in juxtaposition.
The final number in Act I calls for a blackout because the three dancers (although the dancing is minimal) are outlines of neon blue and red lights. Contemporary use of lighting technology captures the Neo-Burlesque attitude because it re-defines the heightening excitement of strip tease by gradually lighting more and more up as opposed to taking more and more off. The memorable Act II opening to “Sweet Dreams” uses edgier black lingerie that intricately criss-crosses the stomach. A curvier woman singing in a black business suit and peeking black sequined bra, whipping crops, and hands sliding up long lunging legs show an evolution from the opening Broadway-like routine.
Neo-Burlesque addresses popular dance in our social framework, as we are reminded by the Revue’s use of modern dance, signature Fosse vocabulary, and even ‘Thriller’ movement on the mutants in a longer sketch. Ginger Lee’s barefoot routine, full of rond de jambes and fluid arms reads like a modern dance strip tease. In Tracey Todd Superstar’s rendition of Fosse’s “Big Spender,” the relationship to the original choreography is unclear, especially with the Cockney accent. The number remembers Fosse’s use of the chair, subtle ankle rolls, and over-crossed lunges from his choreography for “Mein Herr,” yet does not quite do Fosse justice, With a culminating group number full of sparkles, struts, phallic prop work, and high energy, the Pee-A-Boo Revue troupe leaves audiences either ready to celebrate all night, or feeling like they have seen enough.