“Arcana Lace,” created by Elizabeth DeGennaro and choreographed by Dylan Smith, infuses the themes and music from the 1930’s Carnival, combining a live burlesque dance performance with a heartfelt theatrical storyline. The 45-minute show, inspired by DeGennaro’s showgirl role on “Boardwalk Empire,” tells the story of a lone, lost girl, titled “The Fool”, seeking guidance of a fortune-teller, who reveals her fate through a series of tarot card readings and her journey to changing her future.
Here's the trailer for the show:
I paid attention, I really did, but I was pretty lost myself. The narrative needs some work, and I was told the Wild Cherryz would really be reworking it for when the show returned in September. What's most difficult is it's hard to tell, in a story about burlesque told through burlesque, where narrative ends and performance begins. The nice virgin is introduced with a striptease to her drawers, making her character's development a little confusing. Is she still nice if she's naked?
And with the exception of the singer's gown, there weren't nearly enough sparkles! I wanted bigger, shinier costumes that really did evoke the 1930s, plus bigger performances. The ladies danced but I saw them playing very rigid roles, not playing off of a persona. Even when a burlesque performer like the Maine Attraction is inhabiting a character, there's still a persona that comes through. I wanted something to distinguish one scene from the next; if everyone is taking off a bra top to flash sparkly pasties in almost the exact same way, then it comes harder to know what it is I'm seeing. I wanted more tease--slow reveal, interaction with the audience, varied facial expressions--to go with the strip.
More than anything, I wanted to ladies to loosen up. There should be an element of fun! The Wild Cherryz were very serious about their jazz/modern dance moves but the definition of burlesque is as a performance that makes fun of something seemingly serious. It seems they focused on choreography rather than performance in a broader sense. The neo-burlesque scene is full of performers with formal dance training, but they also know that you can't just rely on that because we're there for something a little more raw, for the most part. To be frank, it would've been nice to see more ass shaking and fewer pirouettes. For God's sake, ladies, let's have a little fun with the sex!
It's damn hard to get in front of an audience period, even with your clothes on. I respect these ladies. But there are many elements that need to be tied together and I wonder if it wouldn't be better to whittle the show down so they (and the audience) can focus on just a few things?
Has anyone seen Arcana Lace? What did you think?
Bonus: a burlesque performance from the 1930s: