Monday, 29 October 2012

Interview - Amelie Soleil

Amelie Soleil, circus performer, sideshow spectacle and modern curiosity has trod the boards from music hall to Opera Houses via nightclub and even a show-boat. With a history in theatre and dance, Amelie spent three years at professional circus school before being fully submerged in the cabaret industry. Currently on world tour with Piff The Magic Dragon, Amelie is based in London, produces for Burlexe and writes & directs whilst running Dr Sketchy Newcastle, keeping strong links to her beloved North East.

Picture Credit: Hira Jikonne

What was your first experience of Burlesque or Cabaret?

On a basic level, having seen revue shows and old photos and been in various productions of Bugsy Malone & Cabaret. At circus school, I was heavily influenced by the work coming from Australia, particularly Vulcana Circus who very much displayed a vaudeville aesthetic. When I saw the work of San Francisco based Yard Dogs and the subsequent Teatro Zinzanni shows I was just in love. The muted colours, spit and sawdust, DIY philosophy mixed with glitter and furious optimism really caught me. I knew I wanted more than traditional circus.

Picture Credit: Chris White - 2007
"What? Balloon Pops don't need to be 'normal' balloons!"

You are a trained circus performer – what convinced you to take the steps into Burlesque?

Honestly, it was injury. I'd been performing a 'Moulin Rouge' inspired spinning trapeze act in a touring show when I managed to nearly tear my own foot off in a a rope fall. I couldn't walk for a few weeks and was rather concerned. When production asked if I could still dance, especially if I would choreograph a fan dance I didn't sleep for three days with excitement. I could barely hold the fans, as a juggler I kept forgetting the point was to keep myself covered up and kept spinning and throwing the fans instead. Unique I guess...
My first show went really much better than expected, when my foot healed I discovered I wanted to continue exploring work on the floor and thought burlesque could be a new story-telling platform for this.

Picture Credit: Miss Rain Photography

How long does it take you to create a new act?

If the act is simply a dance piece then perhaps a few weeks. For example, my Louis Fuller tribute Serpentine was created quickly then developed through performance. Since the costume took so long to get 'right,' it's still being tweaked every time I perform and will even have a new illusion aspect to it from 2013.
Magic acts need to be tested in front of an audience, especially when I'm nervous. Circus acts might take months to just perfect a single move that lasts thirty seconds. Getting an extra inch lower in a position can take years to achieve.
However, I'm a great believer in 'death by fire' and throwing an act out there early so you know what works and what doesn't before investing too much.

"I'm a great believer in 'Death by Fire' "

Who are your biggest influences/inspirations?

My inspiration pool is so very deep it's difficult to pinpoint where it begins. From Judy Garland to Katy Perry, Noel Coward to Kanye West and Finnish fairytale to Pixar ponderings.
Music tends to be my biggest inspiration, if I hear a piece that conjures imagery then an act often comes from that. I adore tracks with underlying melody that can be interpreted. For example, Massive Attack's 'Paradise Circus' doesn't scream performance but is absolutely transformative on a theatre stage through a decent sound system. This was actually accidentally played from my iPod at a gig last year, I'd been announced and realised it wasn't my act music but thought 'let's go with this...' Now I've actively added it to my repertoire. I'm a huge believer in artistic accident.
However, I do fall back on the same images often, Tim Burton -esque colour palettes, early 20th Century European decayed music hall and the sometimes glam and glitz of 1950's America. I find it hard to do 'beautiful' or 'showgirl' as my inspirations tend to be less decadent.

Judy Garland ** Katy Perry

Noel Coward ** Kanye West

Finnish Fairytales ** Disney's Pixar

Tell us a little about your favourite experiences so far...

Blimey, I don't know where to start so recently... I have marvellous experiences every day.
Performing at The Sydney Opera House, tap dancing with a drag queen on the same stage as Judy Garland, Nuryev and more.
My birthday pizza parties at Edinburgh Fringe and the utter delight of the 'Craparet' event and how beautiful hearted cabaret folk really are.
Visiting a zoo in Germany with Dusty Limits, Audacity Chutzpah and The Folly Mixtures and being attacked by almost flying monkeys.
Tap dancing with Mat Ricardo (who I wrote an essay on at circus school) and a calvacade of showgirls for London Varieties.
Having a show I care so very deeply about nominated for an award and not even being upset we didn't win because I was so proud.

"I'm a huge believer in artistic accident."

Tell me something no one would suspect about you

That despite my constant travel rants, I absolutely adore travelling. I get excited about trains to new places and spend hours just staring at the countryside, writing and listening to music. I'm a huge hip hop fan and I don't drink nearly as much as people think I do...


Finally, any words of advice for newcomers to the scene?

Don't be so frightened to take risks, you can do anything and forgive most things on this scene. I'd much rather see a poorly executed concept than a choreographed to hell cliche. You'll develop your own way, make tons and tons of mistakes and waste a lot of money. You'll fight with promoters, have to pay for travel rather than food and ultimately have to decide if this is what you really want. It isn't all glitter and bubbly wine but it's absolutely worth fighting for. Cabaret is finally going somewhere and you are in for very very interesting times...

" are in for very interesting times!"

More Amelie

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Hat Trick

Thursday is the start of the weekend for me: it's usually the first day of the week I have a show and last weekend began by travelling to Barnstaple with Dolly Rose and Elliot Mason for The Burlesque Show.

The Queen's Theatre, Barnstaple

It was a lovely show, hosted by Lili La Scala and featuring the usual cast of wonderful performers. I hadn't seen Fancy Chance since the shows in Jersey back in August so it was great to have a catch up with her and she performed her fabulous 'Prince' act too, which I love!

Mirror Picture! With Kittie Klaw and Fancy Chance

We stayed in a nice little hotel overnight, and after a lovely breakfast I headed off through the rain with Jim Devereaux to Bath for one of my favourite shows; High Tease at the Bath Komedia.

The show was loosely Halloween Themed - one of the things I enjoy most about the Bath shows is that the audience always get really involved, dressing up to the nines and having a wonderful time. I was excited to see Velma's 'Fandango' act - the costume and concept was wonderful and the act itself was truly inspired. For me, the highlight of the night, though, was Alex's incredible double-act with her dance partner (sexy ping-pong! *not* that way... filthy people!) It was weird, wonderful, sexy and disturbingly gorgeous. I loved it! I also had a giggle performing as 'Zombie Marilyn' - singing 'My Heart Belongs to Daddy' complete with blood-soaked sponge heart!

Zombie Marilyn

After the show, we piled back to the Komedia flat, loaded with with burgers and chips from Schwartz Brothers (or Shwartzenburgen :P ) and lots of wine and beer to round off the night with several hours of gossip and giggles.

Ye Olde Sweet Shoppe - Bath

On Saturday morning we had a couple of free hours to have a lovely brunch and wander around the beautiful shops in the centre of Bath - the weather was bright but freezing cold and I was so happy for my gorgeous new coat I bought in Camden last week! Then we loaded the cars back up to complete the hat-trick of shows with another 'The Burlesque Show', this time in St. Albans.

Mirror Picture! With Jim Devereaux, Elan, Dolores Delight, Tempest Rose and Kittie Klaw

This show was spearheaded by one of my favourite hostesses, Tempest Rose, and she absolutely slammed it! The audience were onside from the very start and the whole show was so much fun (even though I put the heel of my shoe through the sequinned dress for my 'Sugar' act and had to perform a very unsexy manoeuvre to unhook myself!)

This is how I'm spending my Sunday!

So, tired, aching but completely contented, I made it back home for a lazy Sunday in front of trash TV! Blissful!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Days Off and Nights Out

After a busy weekend I was looking forward to a lovely day off: I had found out about a Vintage Fair in Belsize Park, so Taz and I drove out to have a look. Unfortunately it was closed so we wandered down into Camden instead and spent a nice afternoon browsing around the Vintage, Antiques and knick-knacks on offer.

My favourite stall of the day was a fabulous little perfume store which looked like a cross between an Egyptian Bazzar and an Apothecaries! After selecting the essential oil for the base of the perfume, the owner, Mac, mixes it bespoke! I bought two, and an aftershave for Taz and they smell gorgeous.


Cleopatra's Perfume Palace in Camden Stables Market

I also fell in love with, and bought, a gorgeous winter coat - it's not vintage but it's so luxurious and ridiculously impractical, I had to have it!

On Tuesday, the Cabaret reprobates gathered in Soho for the third Burlesque Night Out - always a great time!

Starting the night early in Leicester Square with Millie Dollar, Scarlet Cuffs, Kitty Devine and Beau Rocks

We met at The Arts Club in Soho for dancing and cocktails in teapots... it all gets slightly blurry after this so I'll just pop up a load of pictures here!

Cocktails in Teapots... here we go!

Scarlet ** Beau and Coco DuBois

With Coco, Scarlet, Hayley, Kitty and Beau

Coco, and me trying to eat Scarlet's face... ** Taz with Beau and Coco

Scarlet and I ** Randi Lee and Taz

Too Cabaret? Damn straight!

Splits! Randi, Kitty,Scarlet and...erm, Taz! ** Joe and I

Millie and I ** Kitty, Dolly Rose and Elsie Diamond 

Taz with the blondies! ** Joe and Slinky Sparkles

Amory and Beau ** Beau, Millie and I

With Slinky! ** Slinky, Coco and I attempting to eat Joe's hair...

This could have been part of the problem...

Fortunately, today has been a wonderfully lost day of dozing, watching movies, drinking tea and eating chips... blissful!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Showgirl on Tour

Gosh this weekend has been a busy one! I've been up and down the country, with a whole host of lovely people and it's been wonderful - so prepare yourself for a LONG blog with LOTS of pictures!!

This pretty much sums up my entire weekend

But first... remember last week when I blogged about the Cabariot? Well you can follow all of the gossip on Facebook but the video is finally here and it's fabulous!

At the time of writing, it had had nearly 55,000 views in five days!

The video was even re-tweeted by Gary Barlow, who called it 'Amazing' and has made it into The Guardian, The Stage, Time Out and This is Cabaret!

Filming still: with Sarah-Louise Young and Laurie Hagen as girl band 'Zone Trois' !!

Anyhow: on Wednesday I dragged myself out through the rain to watch the Cream Tease Show at Proud Cabaret with Chrys Columbine - it was a fabulous evening catching up over a couple of cocktails and wine, and the show was a joy to watch: especially the lovely Lady Catalina who I'd heard of for years but never seen perform before.

With the gorgeous Chrys Columbine, and lots of wine and cocktails!

The second glass of wine may not have been the best idea as I had to wake up ridiculously early on Thursday to travel up to Harrogate - it was worth it though.

The beautiful Yorkshire countryside

I was dancing at a gala evening to celebrate Hoopers Department Stores 30th Birthday Celebrations alongside Vicky Butterfly, Adelina Le Shay, Allegra Noir and Em Brulee. The store had gone all-out with the decorations and staff costumes and the place looked fabulous!

Decorations in the store ** Em and Adelina

Store Decorations

**If you haven't watched the Cabariot video yet, you have to watch it to get this picture, but trust me, it's funny!**

Mirror Picture! With Penny Sweets and Dalia (organisers!), Allegra, Adelina, Em and Vicky

Photo Booth!

I stayed overnight with Dalia, and she even provided me with a cat to keep me company in case I got homesick! 

Danzig - fluffiest cat ever!

On Friday I was up early again, this time to travel to Manchester to meet up with Kittie Klaw and Coco Malone for a road-trip back down South to Epsom for The Burlesque Show.

Newspaper and Magazine advertisements for The Burlesque Show

It was a fantastic show - I was particularly nervous for the proper debut of my new act 'Midnight' but I think it went well!

Backstage peeks of the new costume! Dress is by Louise O'Mahony

Mirror Picture! With Vicky Butterfly, Kittie Klaw, Lili La Scala, Dolly Rose and Coco Malone

As Epsom isn't too far away from London, I travelled back home with Vicky, Dolly and Elliot Mason, and boy was I happy to be sleeping in my own bed!

On Saturday I was back at the gorgeous Proud Cabaret, again performing 'Midnight' and the reworked version of my glitter act 'Sugar' - they both went well though, fortunately! And Neil Lewis from Behind Burlesque was on hand to catch a few performance shots too!

Performance shots of 'Midnight' (Neil Lewis and Filming Still)

Performance shots of 'Sugar' (Neil Lewis)

I also managed to get them filmed (on my iPhone so not great quality!)



My favourite thing about this show was finally watching Leah Debrincat perform live - I'd heard so much about her and she was just as mesmerising as I expected her to be! 

Mirror Picture! With Ben Brown, Teddy Boylesque, Kai Hoffman, Dan Serra, Slinky Sparkles and Leah Debrincat

A well-deserved Champagne Cocktail to wind down after my hectic weekend!