Friday, March 14, 2008
Video Review: Beginning Fan Dance with Michelle L'Amour
Michelle L'Amour performed a landmark tribute to Sally Rand at The Burlesque Hall of Fame Striptease Reunion in Las Vegas in 2007.
Who wouldn't want to learn fan dance techniques from Michelle?
She begins with a recommendation of types of fans to use, then clearly explains the theatrical definition of a reveal, and demonstrates how to hold the fans and how to think of them as an extension of yourself and as a costume. She breaks down a graceful walk and sprinkles the video with dos and don'ts that apply to any kind of dance performance. She talks about staging and what the audience can see as well as showing fan movement techniques.
Michelle's onstage charm translates beautifully into teaching. She has confidence and warmth as a teacher, and her voice is as easy on the ear as her body is on the eye (her posterior is known as "The Ass that Goes Pow!" for good reason). Technically, the video is well-staged, with gorgeous red and black tones, and with conversational clips of her cut in with the full-body movement framing.
Above: One of my favorite photos of Michelle, from her myspace.
I did my first ostrich feather fan dance onstage at the Cheetah III during the Battle of the Cheetah Girls in the early 1990s (somewhere between 1991 and 1994, I'm not sure), and I really could have used this video. There was no burlesque scene and I had nothing to go on except for having seen Venus DeLight and Vanna Lace do fan dances in other strip joints, exactly twice in my life. I'm so glad new performers today have a chance to get some game right away by learning directly from experienced performers!
Above: From behind, Michelle teaching in New York.
One of the best parts of being a burlesque teacher has been collaborating with other burlesque teachers. I had the good fortune of taking fan dance classes with Dirty Martini and Miss Indigo Blue, and now, through this video, with Michelle L'Amour. In every instance I learned several things I could use. Michelle has been a spectacular pleasure to work with--I learned a lot about demonstrating the bump and grind using "The L'Amour Method" when she co-produced classes with me here in New York, and I learned a lot about finessing a fan dance from this video, even though I already knew quite a bit about fan dancing. When I see other dancers break down the fan dance in detail, it is surprising how differently various performers use fans! I recommend this as well as her Boa Technique video, for beginners, experienced performers, and, dare I say it, fans.
If you live in Paris, March is your lucky month! Michelle is teaching her fan and boa workshops at Agence Dancefloor, 10 rue de Valmy, Montreuil - Métro : St Mandé Tourelle Ligne 1.