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Arts & Culture

The Art Of The Tease At Diversionary Theatre

The cast of "In the Va Va Voom Room" display the diversity of burlesque dance styles.
Raymond Elstad
The cast of "In the Va Va Voom Room" display the diversity of burlesque dance styles.

'In the Va Va Voom Room' serves up naughty burlesque show

The Art Of The Tease In 'In The Va Va Voom Room'
Diversionary Theatre is committed to showcasing dance as well as theater. This weekend they reveal something naughty for the New Year. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando looks at the art of the tease in the show "In the Va Va Voom Room."  

Diversionary Theatre is committed to showcasing dance as well as theater. This weekend they reveal something naughty for the New Year. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando looks at the art of the tease in the show In the Va Va Voom Room. With shows like Hot Guys Dancing and Man Clan choreographer Michael Mizerany has proven he can make modern dance sexy. Now he gives his own contemporary spin to the bawdy tradition of burlesque. MICHAEL MIZERANY: So we tease you endlessly and relentlessly about what you might see… but it’s really about the tease and the art of it. Ami Ipapao Glass contributed a piece called Sister, Sister. AMI IPAPAO-GLASS: I don’t think I’ve ever choreographed a striptease before so concealing the right parts at the right moments is a little bit tricky and we are just figuring it out and also still letting it be fun and cute and sexy without it being too sexy. In the Va Va Voom Room will be teasing audiences tomorrow (Thursday) through Sunday at Diversionary Theatre. Beth Accomando, KPBS News.  

'In The Va Va Voom Room' Explores The Art of The Tease

Diversionary Theatre is committed to showcasing dance as well as theater. This weekend they reveal something naughty for the New Year, "In the Va Va Voom Room," a burlesque show that explores the art of the tease.

"It’s very much in the burlesque tradition of a lot of tease but not a lot of exposure," choreographer and show creator Michael Mizerany said. "We tease you endlessly and relentlessly about what you might see, but it’s definitely about the tease and the art of it."

Mizerany understands the art of the tease. Just look at his work in "Hot Guys Dancing," "Sweat," and "Man Clan." He has specialized in a modern dance style that emphasizes sexy, while maintaining a distinctly artistic style.

For "In the Va Va Voom Room," he wanted to create a cabaret show that would highlight diverse dance styles, including hula hoop and a particular kind of aerial work.

"It’s not trapeze," he explained. "It is acro-adagio, beautiful people doing incredible death-defying things. Like if they fall out of it, it’s curtains."

His shows at Diversionary Theatre has been almost exclusively male, and he's now striving to include more female dance voices on stage and behind the scenes. For "In the Va Va Voom Room," he called on choreographers such as Ami Ipapo-Glass.

"I don’t think I’ve ever choreographed a striptease before," Ipapo-Glass said during a rehearsal break. "Concealing the right parts at the right moments is a little bit tricky, and we are just figuring it out. Also, what undergarments do you wear and what can you see from certain sides of the stage? So it’s about making sure the right amount of skin is shown without giving too much away, and still letting it be fun and cute and sexy without it being too sexy, if you know what I mean."

Mizerany called her piece "the most vintage burlesque" of all of the pieces in the show.

"It’s got the big feather fans and the music, but it also has a very political point of view for when it was done at the time," he said.

Ipapo-Glass' piece is called "Sister, Sister."

"It’s sort of a backstage peek into the lives of these fictional characters I created, The Sullivan Sisters," Ipapo-Glass explained. "They do this very cute sisterly cabaret act set in the 1940s, but they are secretly lesbian lovers. I chose to set my dance in the 1940s, at a time when being really open, especially for women, is really not accepted."

Burlesque is going through a resurgence in popularity, but it’s being presented in fresh ways.

"I think it’s being used now more as empowerment, about sexual empowerment, as opposed to, 'Look at me naked. I’m turning you on," Mizerany said. "I feel like it’s got a different skew now. It’s about people, men and women, being empowered by their bodies and their body types. It’s not about being wafer thin. It’s about having a body and being proud of it."

"In the Va Va Voom Room" will be teasing audiences Jan. 7 through 10 at Diversionary Theatre.

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