Review – Pink Hair Affair – Take It Off And feed me, a burlesque-inspired show

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”. [1]

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!

 

Artistic Director

  • Laura Jenkins (Contributed Work)

PHA Ladies

  • Kaleigh Jones (Contributed Work)
  • Christine Steigerwald (Contributed Work)
  • Ashley Wood (Contributed Work)

Return Performers

  • Daniela Galdi (Guest Choreographer)
  • Sarah Dziomba

PHAdvocates

  • Christina Gesualdi
  • Anne MacGilivray Wilson (Guest Choreographer and Host)

First time performers

  • Morgan Chambers
  • Katie Banks
  • Beth Ryan

Photography by

  • Durrock Knox, Managing Director, DK Creative Group

Sources

  1. Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, accessed 16 February 2011 (Subscription required.)
  2. Interviews of the following individuals were conducted by Gerald H Kaloi (2012-03-20 at Mascher Space, Philadelphia, PA)
    1. Laura Jenkins
    2. Christine Steigerwald
    3. Daniela Galdi
    4. Kaleigh Jones
    5. Ashley Wood

 

12 Comments

  1. Steven,

    Thank you for your very insightful remarks. you are correct on all counts. While I will not issue any type of apologies to Ms. Smith or Ms. Clark i will issue one to you and the rest of your readers. I tend to get “passionate” when someone i care about is attacked so viscously. I did indeed let it get the best of me and I am sorry it came out here in a place that should remain a much more positive atmosphere. In replying to people who veered off course in their responses to the article I only made things bigger with my comments. I have the utmost respect for both you and for your work with Dance Journal and PhiladelphiaDANCE.org. Again I apologize to both you and your readers for exposing them to my negative attack.

  2. So I guess as founder of PhiladelphiaDANCE.org and The Dance Journal, I need to step in at this point and address all the comments made. I have been hesitant to do so, as so much of this has become petty drama, moving away from a true discussion of both the content and intent of the article. I would also suggest that “other politics” are perhaps at play here as well.

    1. The Dance Journal has as its core, the goal of promoting dance and dance performances to the general public and raising awareness of all that we have to offer. It has for the past six years done that quite effectively, with an average of 30-35,000+ hits/readers per month, primarily with in the Northeast corridor of the United States, but also with extensive national and even international reach.

    2. As part of our core philosophy, we have accepted articles from a variety of members of the Philadelphia dance community. Some are professional writers, bloggers and journalists, and some are not. We have accepted submissions from students and even non-dancers, who have attended performances and wanted to try their hand at writing. We have and will continue to encourage writing and submission of material as a way to energize audiences and create a public forum for dance in this region.

    3. To address the original comment made by Amy Smith. I would kindly suggest that just as you have expressed a concern about the words chosen by Gerald Kaloi in his article, you might also want to look inward at the words you have selected to use as well. Gerald is not a professional writer or journalist, but is a supporter and friend to many of the dancers associated with Pink Hair Affair. As we have seen by all the comments posted, not to mention hate email sent, words can hurt. His words were not intended to offend or hurt, but to promote the work and to raise attendance for Pink Hair Affair’s upcoming performance.

    I do understand and acknowledge your concern around issues with regards to how women’s bodies are viewed. This has been an ongoing battle on a much wider scale than this article, and one that has recently been even more accentuated by the politics of the day. I think you could have offered constructive criticism, in a more positive and professional manner, that would have had a more meaningful impact. In reading this article, I actually find myself wanting to know more about burlesque as an art form and its development from an historical perspective as well as its role, if any, in conjunction with the women’s movement. Missing for me was how PHA has maintained or transformed this art form in the pieces they present. This is where I do agree with you that a more in depth description of the work, would have been of value.

    4. With regards to comments made by Christopher Jones, defending Mr. Kaloi or his work is not a license to go on the attack of other’s work. While I realize the debate on this article has become a bit intense and even passionate, attacking the work of Headlong Dance Theater is really uncalled for. Headlong has contributed greatly to the dance community and their works have pushed many traditional boundaries of both dance and theater. The work of David Brick, Andrew Simonet and Amy Smith have contributed greatly to the creative process in this region.

    5. To Jessi Clark, who sees fit to condemn and malign all of PhiladelphiaDANCE.org for a single article, I would suggest that you have not truly explored our web site or understood our goals. I maintain over 30 individual sites and online marketing tools for dance in Philadelphia. All are free to our community. I do this as a staff of one, who is not paid, generates no revenue or profit from this site. I do this at my own expense. Yes, there are real costs associated with running a dedicated server on the internet, with software developed or purchased and of course in time spent. This is not my full time job, I run three other major for-profit companies as either CEO or President. I do this out of a love of the arts and in particular dance. I already spend way too much time on this, but it is a passion. I do not have time to always edit all that is submitted. Even when able to do so, I try not to alter the original context, meaning or intent of an article. This is a learning process for everyone. I view my site/s as an incubator for promoting dance. Really it is just that simple. I have not misrepresented myself or the goals of the Dance Journal or PhiladelphiaDANCE.org in any way. I am not trying to be something we are not. Reviews by their very nature constitute editorial or opinion. I have no idea how an opinion becomes a “credible news source”, regardless of the publication. You are of course entitle to your opinion, but one cannot help but feel that your comments and generalization about my site/s, along with all the vicious emailed received, has a deeper political intent.

    6. To Ricky Deiter, I appreciate your comments and attempts to move the discussion away from personal attacks to a more constructive outlook. I share your frustration with the course that this thread has taken. I am sorry that you have become discouraged or been personally attacked as a result.

    7. My final thought – I find it a real shame that this article, regardless of how you may view Gerald’s writing skills or even intent, has triggered such venomous responses both public and private. At best it is indicative of a larger issue which continues to foster in this community. Constructive criticism is always welcomed and essential to the growth process both as individuals, dancers and as an organization. I would argue that this needs to come from a place of mutual respect and a desire to further expand the knowledge of all parties involved. I would also argue that we all need a safe place to grow and develop as artists and as individuals. Personally, I will continue to view and develop the Dance Journal and PhiladelphiaDANCE.org as such a place.

  3. Please let it be known that I am pulling out of this argument completely. I no longer wish to have any involvement or implication any longer, nor do I wish to make anymore additional statements in favor or defense of one side or another. I’m completely done.

  4. Before any of us go any further, can we all, myself included, at least please resolve to find a way to carry on our arguments without making anymore personal comments? Let’s not let our behavior undermine Mr. Kaloi’s work or the work of this site anymore than has been already. On at least this can we all agree?

  5. Jessi Clark, regardless of Mr. Kaloi’s writing capability, much of the argument taking place here did not center around his writing ability, and therefore discussing his skills wasn’t necessary. I came to his defense regarding notions made that he spoke pejoratively and misogynisitcally. Regardless how any one of us perceives Mr. Kaloi’s writing skills, clearly he did not write an article that ‘(revealed) an inconsiderate attitude toward women’s bodies’, and to accuse him as such reveals an unfair bias in itself. That topic was the main root of the argument, and as such was the extent to which I took it.

    As far as PhiladelphiaDANCE.ORG being a credible news source or not…I’m not entirely sure what kind of hard hitting ‘credible news’ you’re seeking from an online dance collective, and I believe you’re taking this site and yourself a little too seriously. I don’t see any of the associates on this site delivering untruths or lies or creating sensational stories. Many of the site’s contributors are dancers or dance/dance arts enthusiasts within the community, many of whom are not professional journalists, but enthusiastic amatuer writers who love the art form and want to contribute to the community however they can. Clearly we’re not having this discussion on cnn.com or nytimes.com. Reading one online review you don’t enjoy for whatever reason doesn’t entitle you to doom an entire website and its associates. Maybe explore the site and its contents a little more thoroughly before jumping to such an extreme conclusion. Making such a statement is as unfair as the statement Ms. Smith made regarding Mr. Kaloi’s attitude. If you don’t like what you see on this site, then contribute something of yours.

  6. And yet you not only read it but found a way to make your nasty comments none the less. Please tell me…where do you get your articles published? Hope you could make your way through this brief comment and that my spelling and punctuation lived up to your standards.

  7. Every comment overlooks the fact that Mr. Kaloi CAN’T WRITE. Frankly, I find the lack of correct punctuation, the omission of necessary quotation marks, the stupid spelling errors, and the redundancy more offensive than any of the terms he used to describe the ladies. Due to a flagrant inability to follow the basic rules of grammar, Mr. Kaloi makes it absolutely impossible to read this article, and thus fails at achieving the chief aim of journalism– communication. The fact that the editors of this website allowed such an atrocious article to be published proves that PhiladelphiaDANCE.com is not a credible news source.

    missjessiclark@gmail.com

  8. Dear MS. Smith…I don’t really care for the tone of your comments, your bitterness and overly jealous attitude toward beautiful talented women really shines through in your comments above. Perhaps it might be a good idea to find out what burlesque is and maybe even wait to see the show before you make your judgmental comments…by the way, comments that were not about the show but about the reviewer…the reviewer who actually DID see the show and gave his honest opinion of it. I really am not sure who you think you are making these types of comments. My understanding of what I hear in and about the theater community tells me that what you do with Headlong is barely recognizable as either theater or dance. Maybe the best place to throw about your judgements and groundless comments should start in your own backyard. In closing please just let me say, again from the buzz in our own theater community, you would not really know or understand artistic intent if it danced across your face.

  9. I mean…look at the photo of the performance at the top of the article, and then TELL me how and why his descriptions are inappropriate considering the source material.

  10. Okay, I’m not going to argue here about grammar and syntax, but in all fairness to Mr. Kaloi, considering the content and context of the performance piece, and considering that dance is first and foremost a VISUAL art, it’s perfectly fair to express and describe the material and the BODIES dancing it. If we can, per se, openly describe a ballet dancer as being long and lean and describe the corresponding lines, or describe the muscular form of contemporary dancers in more modern or contemporary creations, why then is it unfair to elaborate on another dancer’s ‘voluptuous’ form and shape and image, particularly when such a visual is relevent to the theme and style of the choreography presented? Mr. Kaloi’s descriptions aren’t NEARLY as pajorative as much as they’re creating visual imagery with which to envision the event taking place, while terms like ‘voluptuous’ and ‘sexy’ are completely appropriate considering the intent of the choreographer. The choreographer more than likely chose to cast dances with bodies that correspond to the choreographic values, the concepts, the style, and the images that she wanted to, with full INTENT, fully EXPRESS. Mr. Kaloi did not choose to include ‘voluptuous’ ladies, he did not ask them to hit all the ‘right sexy poses’, the female artists behind the performance did, doing so memorably and effectively, which, yes, made it ‘right’. As such, he described the visuals accordingly. Considering the nature of the performance and the event, Mr. Kaloi’s descriptions are certainly relevent, if not somewhat essential. But, more than that, throughout the review Mr. Kaloi has offered us insights into the artists’ personal journeys during the creative process, of how the nature of the material has in essence EMPOWERED these ladies both artistically and personally. Some people seem more than willing to overlook, if not flat out ignore, the POSITIVE messages behind this review for the sake of creating an argument where none began or really existed in the first place. The bottom line is, according to this article, the performance was unique, creative, thoroughly entertaining (including all the ‘right’ reasons as intended by its creators), and artistically and personally fulfilling to all involved in the creative process. Perhaps if someone has a problem with the Mr. Kaloi’s description of the event, perhaps they in all actuality have a problem with the nature of the event itself.

  11. Gerald, I actually like the piece that you wrote! I didn’t think that you were inconsiderate at all. It was an honest opinion of a burlesque inspired show, plain and simple. 🙂 Keep on doing what you love!

  12. Gerald, I don’t care for the tone of this review/preview. In my opinion, sentences like this: “Capturing your attention, voluptuous bodies hitting all the right sexy poses to burlesque inspired choreography these ladies get your heart racing from the get go raising the energy levels in the house.” are not only grammatically appalling, but reveal an inconsiderate attitude toward women’s bodies. Are the Pink Hair ladies’ poses “right” because they turn you on? Is that what made this performance good? If the PHA was performing at Delilah’s Den and you were reporting for Playboy magazine, I would be more understanding. But this piece is a dance piece being reviewed in a dance journal, so I expect language and a level of criticism (judging the artistic intent, not the voluptuousness of the bodies) that befits that context.

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