You've nearly made it through January with your New Years Resolutions in tact. You've said goodbye to your food vices in our Food Wars Showdown. And at this point you've refreshed and renewed following our "staycation" planning guidelines. What's next to check off the list...finding yourself a hobby. There's really no other way to take a new year by storm than getting out in world and finding something new to explore. And around here at 4-Star Explorer, that's pretty much what we're about. And we just may have found the perfect one stop shop activity. Burlesque. I know, you too have been ruined by the acting ability (or lack thereof) of a staccato voiced Christina Aguliera in the now iconic flop. (I mean seriously, even Cher couldn't save that sinking ship) But I promise the art of burlesques is a much better production. Thanks to the folks at Vaudezilla Studios you can shake a little leg, slim down a size or two as well as learn a few tricks to implement in a more...intimate setting. And I, Shavon "Vonnie" Coleman, shimmied and shook in order to give you the scoop.
Vaudezilla Productions and Burlesque
3614 W Belmont Ave
Chicago, IL 60641
Since 2008, Vaudezilla Studio and Productions has been teaching the art of the visual tease to Chicago's risque and daring. Not one to be a one trick pony, Vaudezilla offers more services than your standard dance studio. Offering classes in Belly Dance, Latin Dance, Fan Tease, and it's trademark Burlesque.Within its walls, Vaudezilla students are urged to "learn the fine art of the bump and grind". Vaudezilla teaches more than steps and twirls; instilling into its patrons and performers an appreciation for the stage, subtlety in body movements, and the power of sensuality. They also offer a host of fun events and packages including a monthly Burlesque exhibition as well as birthdays, bachelorette parties, and private functions. They also offer long or short term commitments. You can either grab a couple sessions during the month or enroll in one of their 8-week courses in varying degrees of difficulty. And if you've always felt a call to the stage, you even get the option to perform with the studio after completing a certain amount of classes. And fellas, no need to envy the Magic Mike cast any longer, you too can perfect the visual tease with Vaudezilla's patented Boylesque classes. From learning coyness to costumes, box-steps to booby tassels, rest assured the staff at Vaudezilla has something beneficial to teach anyone from the shiest to most daring among us.
When it comes to the success of Vaudezilla many account it to its fiery head mistress, Red Hot Annie. 4-Star Explorer scored the chance to speak candidly with the "First Lady of Vaudezilla" about what exactly makes her studio so titillating.
4-Star: How long have you been performing and what motivated you to open Vaudezilla?
RHA: I've been performing burlesque since 2008. I started Vaudezilla because I wanted to create more opportunities for paid burlesque work within Chicago. I've spent most of my adult life as a freelancer, so I felt that I was bringing something special to the table in regards to "how" to create and book a niche performance art, like burlesque.
4-Star: What are some of your favorite services offered?
RHA: Well, everyone in Vaudezilla is a performer at heart, so I think our favorite thing to do is be on stage, and it shows. We are one of the few places where you will find performers working individually and together as an ensemble to create and curate themed shows. Our performers create their own pieces from the bottom up, but we fit everything together into shows that have themes like: "Naughty Nostalgia," "Classic Live Band Burlesque," "Circus/Carnivale," etc. We care very much about how burlesque is represented in Chicago, and we take extra care to keep our shows inclusive, body-positive, and open-minded. I feel that attitude bleeds over into how we approach our classes, as well.
4-Star: Why would you suggest burlesque over conventional forms of fitness?
RHA: One of the primary things that burlesque addresses that most other forms of fitness do not is building your sense of confidence. Every move we teach demands that one keeps their head up and their heart pointed towards the audience (whether it's an audience of one or one thousand), and by building a habit of keeping ones body open to the people you are addressing, you are building a natural body confidence. We also focus a lot of time on facial expressions, lines, and overall body-awareness, which helps performers learn the best ways to command the attention of a room. Although burlesque is great for the body, I feel that the classes, in particular, are even more beneficial for mind and spirit.
RHA: There are many things I'm proud of in my short career in burlesque, but my favorite burlesque moment was being asked to perform at the Burlesque Hall of Fame, in Las Vegas, in 2012. It's something I had dreamed about since first starting burlesque, so knowing that I had an act that was worthy of that stage was really humbling. I felt the electricity and joy shoot up my legs the moment I stepped on stage to perform my "Art-Tease-T" act, an act where I essentially paint myself out of my clothing! (Video here: http://redhotannie.com/videos/artteaset.htm)
After giving my lips some working and stretching out, it quickly came time to give the rest of my body the chance to catch up. One by one, ladies poured into the studio with similar shy looks and averted eyes, unsure of what the night held for them. Once the class swiftly began I was suddenly focused on remaining unfocused on my mirrored fleshly doppelganger looking ever so awkward while trying desperately to hold its weight while lunging. But after getting lost in the music and loving the performance of it all, dare I say I had fun? Of course, as the sways, kicks, and ball-chains made me nostalgic for the days of high school Show Choir. Though I'm almost certain my choir teacher wouldn't have appreciated me jiggling my bosoms to the audience. It's a great option for anyone looking for something social, slimming and overall enjoyable to do. So grab your fishnets and head over to Vaudezilla Burleque to create some showstopping productions your own.
Special thanks to Red Hot Annie and all the ladies in the Monday Basic Burlesque class for letting me snap pictures while you were in countless numbers of compromising positions as well as being super awesome and friendly. Please invite me to the performance!
For more pictures from this and other exploration around the city, check out our facebook page at Facebook.com/4StarExplorer and don't forget to hit the "like" button! Have somewhere for us to venture out next? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.