Traverse City is a long way from Las Vegas. But it has something most small towns don’t: two burlesque troupes competing for your business.
Last year, The Ticker told you about the Bayside Bombshells, a burlesque troupe formed in February 2011 by “Twiggy Pop.” One of the performers, “Lady Siréne,” has since branched out to form her own burlesque troupe – The Northern Starlets.
La Siréne, whose stage name refers to a Voodoo mermaid spirit of seductive power and intellectual clarity, says the new group performs bawdy Victorian-era variety shows and striptease dances, but is more conservative than the Bombshells.
“I wanted it to be more classical burlesque,” she says. “I was getting uncomfortable with the shock value of neo-burlesque. Classical is more my style, and I believe more Traverse City’s style.”
La Siréne goes on to add that with two burlesque troops with two different styles in town, “Traverse City will have the best of both worlds.”
The new troupe has 10 performers so far, made up of both men and women. La Siréne says they come in all shapes and sizes. They practice several times a week at their own studio, and their costumes are made by hand. La Siréne’s specialty: dancing with fire. Other performers are skilled stilt walkers, fire breathers, dancers, comedians, and singers.
“It’s so much fun to perform and have witty humor on stage and make people laugh,” La Siréne says.
The Northern Starlets are planning to put on two types of shows. One is more family-oriented, with vaudeville-style acts. But for people 18 and older, other shows will include some traditional burlesque elements – including high-class striptease that doesn’t bare all.
La Siréne, who danced in Vegas for four years before returning home to TC, says the goal of the adult shows isn’t to stir up sexual feelings, but to entertain and express what it means to be a woman.
“Burlesque is taking something ordinary and making it extraordinary,” she explains, and offers this example: “Taking off your knee-high argyle socks, tease the sock down, and let out a peek of ankle, before teasing the sock back up. In burlesque, you make sure you are taking the time to enjoy your movement and make it your expression of your femininity.”
Another dancer in the new troupe, known as Portia von Pout, agrees. She says she left the Bombshells because she’s more comfortable with the Northern Starlets’ relatively conservative style, and appreciates the group’s emphasis on personal expression through burlesque.
“Most of my acts have layers, and sub-stories,” she says. “With the Northern Starlets, I’m granted the ability to make the point I want to make in a physical statement. The stage offers me great comfort and ability to share my humor, my jests, my jabs, and my abilities as a dancer, as a singer, a writer.”
Even though some people consider burlesque to be a seedy underworld in northern Michigan, von Pout says her family and friends are behind her. She says her sister will be a guest during her first show, and her employer, a local grocery store, is selling tickets to the performance.
For more information about the Northern Starlets, including a show in Buckley tommorrow (October 6), click here.