Community In Action at Darwin Burlesque Idol

By April 7, 2020 July 17th, 2020 No Comments
Students pose at Darwin Divine Dancers at the end of Mae de la Rue's workshop

All this time away from the world lets us slow down and reflect. So I thought I’d take some time out to tell you about a recent trip north for the first ever Darwin Burlesque Idol.

I had the great opportunity to co-produce the inaugural Darwin Burlesque Idol competition alongside Queensland powerhouse, Scarlet Tinkabelle. A unique opportunity to work with co-producers across Australia saw for the first time, a collaborative delivery of the nation’s emerging artists audience vote competition.

I’ve visited and performed in Darwin a couple of times, so have met a few of the local performers before. To say I was excited to see what the Darwin scene had to offer would be an understatement.

Arriving in the balmy build-up late on a Friday evening, my Top End adventure was set to be a whirlwind. With Tink arriving during the Saturday, the delightful and newly established Darwin Divine Dancers hosted me, running two pre-show workshops.

Beginners Burlesque

Students at Darwin Divine Dancers workshop with Mae de la RueI really enjoy teaching beginner’s burlesque workshops – it is one of my favourites to teach because it’s less about perfection and top techniques, and more about giving in to yourself and having fun. We worked on the foundations of burlesque with a focus on laughter. Our eleven strong group of babes absolutely smashed it with mirth and merriment.

Smiles abound, everyone excelled and embraced the very heart of what burlesque is. Afterwards, half of the class headed home to change and prepare for the night ahead, ready to cheer and shout for amazing performances.

Picture Perfect Burlesque

Strike a Pose - planning a Picture Perfect pose for BurlesqueNext we moved in to my Picture Perfect Burlesque workshop. I built this class based on my own experiences as a life model, from performance feedback, and my own observations. I watch performers onstage and look at photos captured at live shows. (It helps that my husband shoots burlesque!)

The goal is to find and accentuate moments and picture worthy poses within an act. Then to have the calmness to hold the pose firm and strong for the full moment. Of the five participants, four were competing in Idol that night. All found ways to intensify their acts with their new found picture perfect moments.

Burlesque Idol Darwin

All burlesque performers competing i Burlesque Idol Australia DarwinFinally, Tink was in town and the night of nights was set to take off. Lola’s Pergola is a local institution that has seen burlesque growing in popularity in the last few years.  The locals love what’s on the menu both literally and figuratively.

Nine burgeoning burlesquers took to the stage, some making their solo burlesque debuts. Everyone wowed the crowd with their ingenuity and tease. It was a downright entertaining night for the nearly hundred strong crowd.

The Burlesque Idol Darwin competitorsGetting judgey

In the role of judge, I went in with an open heart, hopeful for something exciting. ButI made sure not to expect anything beyond a best effort to entertain. As new performers, Burlesque Idol offers the opportunity to gain performance experience, learn to promote themselves, and to test their mettle on stage.

Judges also give some commentary and feedback on each act, both for the audiences’ benefit, and for the performers themselves. And we also perform one of our signature acts! I performed my Burlesque Idol Sydney 2015 Runner Up act, The King Lives. What I saw on the Darwin stage absolutely blew me away. We were expecting good, and we got GREAT!

Darwin’s burlesque community in action

Darwin Divine Dancers Headmistress Millie Devine wins Burlesque Idol DarwinBut what really blew us away was the sense of community recently established in the area. The new and thriving Darwin Divine Dancers Burlesque School has really come in to it’s own and is shining a positive light on the burlesque scene. After the huge success of the show, I sat down with the newly crowned, first ever Burlesque Idol Darwin, Millie Devine for a chat.

It turned out that as head mistress of the Darwin Divine Dancers, Millie took her role seriously, and the students competing had risen to the occasion. Not only did they work hard on their own acts, dedicating solo studio time to create engaging and fun performances, but they all collaboratively came together to provide critique and encouragement on each others acts in the hopes of each performer bringing their best to the competition.

All that was on top of the regular class load and everyone’s regular day jobs.

What about the out-of-towners?

If the love shared between classmates wasn’t enough, a couple of the competitors were from other states, and others were not students of the school. Visiting a new city to perform can be daunting enough, but to also be competing for audience votes in a different state can be an overwhelming experience.

Instead of competitive nature and backstage tensions, I witnessed the most welcoming, friendly, and inclusive backstage of a competition than I’ve seen in a long time. Genuine friendships were started, genuine enthusiasm and support for each other to do well.

On stage awards

Mae de la Rue, Millie Devine, Scarlet Tinkabelle, and Hanna Illingworth on stage at the conclusion of Burlesque Idol Darwin 2020And beautifully, on stage, amidst the the excitement, nervousness, and suspense, the very real delight on the faces of all competitors as Sweet Viper, making her solo debut, was announced runner up, and the sheer surprise and elation for Millie Devine as she was announced winner and was cheered on by her peers and the audience as the crowd was placed on her head.

Darwin has achieved a real sense of community amongst the burlesque performers, whether they train together or not. The clear comradery made the whole experience incredibly rewarding to be a part of, and the sheer delight for and from the audience proved that the Top End has a bright and glittery future.

If you get the opportunity to travel to and perform in Darwin, it’s an experience not to be missed.

Check out all the photos by professional photographer Flowpyre in the Darwin album on Facebook

Read more of Mae’s Musings and food for thought in the News section.

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