by Gerald H. Kaloi for The Dance Journal
Recently, I was given a rare glimpse into the world of Pink Hair Affair at the dress rehearsal for “Take It Off… and feed me”, a burlesque inspired show, which opens this Friday night. The show is directed by Laura Jenkins, and hosted by Anne MacGilivray Wilson with works by… But wait a minute, that’s getting ahead of myself, and if the other night taught me anything, the art of the tease is never giving away too much too soon.
I think one of the hottest sounds is that of stilettos stomping their way onto a stage in the dark to pulsating music. In their signature, “Pink Hair the Affair”, these sassy ladies don’t disappoint, capturing your attention as their voluptuous bodies hit all the right poses to burlesque inspired choreography. These ladies get your heart racing from the get go, continuously raising the energy levels in the house.
“We are using burlesque inspired movement to bring sexy back to modern dance” says director, choreographer and dancer Laura Jenkins. When I asked Jenkins’ why burlesque, she replied “simply because it’s fun”. She goes onto add, “that people shouldn’t take what we do with burlesque so seriously”. I thought this was curious, but as it turns out very much in the spirit of burlesque, according Oxfords definition “a literary, dramatic or musical work intended to cause laughter by caricaturing the manner or spirit of serious works, or by ludicrous treatment of their subjects”. 
Christine Steigerwald keeps our hearts sizzling with a sensual expression of her own. With choreography performed by veteran, Kaleigh Jones and relative newbie, Sarah Dziomba, Steigerwald builds on Jenkins’ theme of using burlesque to add sexy back in to modern dance. In fact, she credits performing burlesque with being able to find power with in her own sexuality. Her playful and organic choreography, allows audiences to see just that. Jones offers a more abstract flirtatious take to burlesque with a number poking fun at petite allegro and her absolute love for popcorn. Jenkins, Jones and Steigerwald dance with the quality you expect from the PHA ladies, while letting us watch them adorn their “Elvis like love for Popcorn”. These works anchor the performance overall in the company’s modern dance roots, while still providing edgy entertainment.
While not entirely ludicrous, I could easily describe the next creation presented by Ashley Wood to be hilariously obscure and at times a bit of an oxymoron. Wood, a self-admitted, “weird sexy lady”, presents us with Candy Crush, that frankly shocked me. I wasn’t sure if I should be laughing or simply be uncomfortable with the subject matter presented by Wood and fellow dancers, Katie Banks and Beth Ryan. However, I’m told by Wood that she “feels sexy doing the sillier stuff”. So for that I tip my hat and say, “this one you have to see to believe”.
Daniela Galdi and Anne MacGilivray Wilson both due double duty as guest choreographers and dancers. Anne also provides interludes of comedic relief, that helps the flow between each of the numbers. For those attending the show, expect audience participation with drinking games, that will up the laugh-o-meter. As funny as Anne is, Daniela is hot. Her spicy waitress number will have guys flooding local diners in search of table-dancing sassy waitresses. I sincerely doubt any Philly waitress will dance around and on tables quite like this brunette bomb-shell. Daniela loves the challenge of burlesque and how it allows for more abstract interpretation of dance. Truly, it is a toss up between Anne and Daniela, either could “tease” away with the show.
The show opens and closes with pieces by director, choreographer and dancer Laura Jenkins. She also offers a solo piece in the middle of the program, that will simply leave you speechless, which by the way is her intent. The slow quiet sultriness of her artichoke – yes, artichoke – seduction will encapsulate your senses, as she slinks her way down stage toward the audience. With true burlesque intent, she will just as quickly pull away leaving you wanting more. I can only suggest, that you may just want to take in this veggie-beauty more than once!
During the long night of watching the PHA ladies tech and rehearse, I had an opportunity to speak with new, returning and veteran members alike. One sentiment that everyone seemed to share was the Laura Jenkins has provided an environment for each of these women to explore, express and in some cases find a power and a strength in their own “expression of sexy”. Within this collective known as the Pik Hair Affair, artistic freedom is encouraged and realized. This is really quite brave of a young director, who has so much trust in her fellow artists.
I can with a rating of two jazz hands, recommend this show for mature audiences with open-minds and a willingness to explore and experience burlesque!
- Laura Jenkins (Contributed Work)
- Kaleigh Jones (Contributed Work)
- Christine Steigerwald (Contributed Work)
- Ashley Wood (Contributed Work)
- Daniela Galdi (Guest Choreographer)
- Sarah Dziomba
- Christina Gesualdi
- Anne MacGilivray Wilson (Guest Choreographer and Host)
First time performers
- Morgan Chambers
- Katie Banks
- Beth Ryan
- Durrock Knox, Managing Director, DK Creative Group
- Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, accessed 16 February 2011 (Subscription required.)
- Interviews of the following individuals were conducted by Gerald H Kaloi (2012-03-20 at Mascher Space, Philadelphia, PA)
- Laura Jenkins
- Christine Steigerwald
- Daniela Galdi
- Kaleigh Jones
- Ashley Wood