Blog of a Showgirl- Tour begins, Composure, where are you??
16 September 2015- Composure, where are you?
En route to my Cabaret De Paris tour of the southern states. Cities Adelaide Her Majesty’s Theatre (first time) and Melbourne Crowne Casino (a fabulous regular)
Showgirl in remission, have been dragging myself out of country life obscurity now for a week or
So, prepping to be thrown into city-life,showbiz, rocknroll lifestyle limelight! And not without the proverbial jitters!
All started with the grooming, and not that I count myself as some yokel slob, but boy! Was there a lot to do!
Jogging down the country lane should be pleasant enough, but not so with such stakes. Standing along side cast of athletic, nubile 20 something’s, is frankly daunting.
So Pilates and jogs it’s been. Still, nothing compares to the pressure of the stage and I find my regime wanting for desired results.
Eating has been altered, not SO drastically as I’m a pretty good eater, but breakfast is now permanently eggs and lunch and dinner have been reversed. As before in before mentioned blog the sweets and bickies gone! But for a few sneaky ones followed by massive guilt!
Skin: where do I start? Loafing, bottle fake tanning, tenacious spot treatments with bloomin corticosteroids creme! Moisturizing, home facials, serums…well everything I can think of short of trip to salon. I could be bitter but I have to be thankful for up till recently I have been blessed with perfect skin. Now it’s just hard work! Thank goodness for makeup. Oh and yes! Despite being clothed I will be applying body foundation too! It’s just a great look.
Hair, did a fabulous job on the tint and toner! If I say so myself. Fringe is just right length right now. Must remember to buy baby can of Elnet! Can’t take anything on planes nowadays .
Nails been growing those out to super long so much so having. Difficulty writing this blog on phone. But the watermelon red looks fabulous! Loving it. (Note
To self, don’t forget to do toenails.)
Body hair, well suffice to say there is very little anywhere you’d care to mention!
Costumes packed. Well I hope so, I’m worried I forgot something. I only Checked about 100 times.. But still I can hear the haranguing voice of my ballet teacher in my head as we children sat in the freezing Dark of tour bus at 5am for trips to Sydney opera house eisteddfods(dance comps for the initiated). “Anyone who has forgotten even the smallest Costume accessory needn’t bother coming back to this school!” I’m pretty sure I’ve got everything… I hope…
What else?… Oh yes
Rehearsals! I almost Forgot!
Must confess I’ve run through my songs and lines a couple times, but while Madonna sings her entire rep whilst running on a treadmill pre show, I lay in my massage chair with a mask on my face and hummed them through with a relaxed approach, yielding some very nice creative vocal Variations.
At the airport and my hands get itchy, I decided the top I was wearing was all wrong so as flight was boarding I decided I needed to go shopping. Found just what I needed at French Connection, on sale from $120-$60, grabbed it, threw in on, tossed other top in bin… Oh I probably should have those pearl Droplet earnings too..for the show..you know. Much better!
So speeding towards rehearsal aboard Boeing 737, baby screaming in my ear, man kicking my chair in back, none of the above has given me any peace of mind whatsoever and I can feel nerves building anyhow!
Ah! C’est la vie! Been doing this 30 years and still can’t beat the nerves.
Producer, darling Michael will pick me up in the glamour of the tour truck and appease me, I know, with gushy reassurances Maybe later champagne is in store… Here goes:-)
4 September 2015 – Holy Distractions
As if to snap me out of my Cabaret de Paris reverie, the real world demands even more cabaret. A bit of a tricky Assignment for me today: a gig came in slightly more challenging than of the norm…
Once the tour is over, I’m booked to sing in my band for a ball but now the client has heard I have dancers and costumes and they want more! Only I can’t just fall back into my usual showgirl routines and costumes because the venue is a place of worship, the client holding a party for their followers.
Now as we know my showgirl are always of the upmost class, a parishioners congregation however is not necessarily the right place for them. Out of respect for my clients beliefs I need to rethink this a little.
Recently I’ve been enjoying old footage of Josephine Baker. She was known in the roaring 20s for her wildly liberating banana skirt Dance. http://youtu.be/W_uETOtEQYQ The footage I’ve been seeing recently however is from the 50s when she was more demure yet still her cheeky,bubbly self. There’s nothing from stopping me from having my dancers do their dance in long elegant gowns and gloves like the latter Josephine. Ironically the theme for the ball is a 1920s New York theme, so I’ll just lower the hem on my flapper costumes, check the lyrics of the song, remove the black-bottom steps but keep the Charleston and I think we’re good to go!
…now back to nude look bling suit and things more French…
2 September 2015 – Headlining a show, dream come true right!…right?
I eat my last chocky bickie with a deep sense of reverence. It is the a symbol of my newly appointed, self-imposed restrictions and last for some weeks to come. For now it is time for the long preparation for fabulous!
Cabaret de Paris is in a few weeks time, playing Crowne Melbourne and Her Majesty’s Adelaide and as the headlining act I have to take every day as a solemn preparatory day towards the stage. Sound a bit melodramatic…? well I could take it a bit easier…it’s not like I haven’t done this before… but the more I do this the more I realize the enormity of the responsibility placed on me. Why? well for many reasons which I will now, and in coming days, outline.
I’ve just got off my fourth interview promoting the show. I hear myself explaining the beautiful details of the show I hold so dear, and hope the listener will catch my infectious passion for the show. But in doing so I am building myself up to have to deliver all this of which I speak. Can I do it? more and more the doubts resound in my head.
Headlining, ie having ones face and name brandished on posters all over town, is something I always dreamed of. It says, the producer respects me, the industry endorses me, and these are things I have worked a life time towards. I get a little eek! of pleasure seeing the continual stream of promo of facebook, the ad on tele, yet all the while I get a little more terrified each day. Reading all the press…I recall the age old warning for performers states, ‘don’t believe your own press”.
But the show already started for me some months ago, when the Producer and I have our verbal agreement to go ahead with the dates. From that point on the die is cast and everything I do gets me one step closer to the audience.
Today I was up a ladder doing some painting and I felt the ladder tilt which gave me a sickening adrenaline rush, then the realization, “what if I’d fallen off?”, “what if I’d sustained an injury”, “WHAT IF I COULDN’T DO THE SHOW?” That is simply not an option at this late date. So I sheepishly got down and stopped the job. I CANNOT allow that to happen.
At this point in time, artists are all contracted up, monies have been handed out for venue hire and marketing, flights have been purchased, hotels have been booked, costumes are being finalized, dancers are reviewing choreography and thousands of people have spent their hard earned cash on tickets! To come and see the Cabaret! Which I am headlining!
So forgive me if I have a mild heart attack while I get over my almost-ladder-fall.
NO! for me there will be no more gardening, lest I get a nasty scratch; no more eating chocky bickies, for the figure must be maintained; no going near children, lest I catch a flu; no more going to the hairdresser, lest she stuff up my mix (like last time :-/); no more late nights, my complexion will suffer; no careless running, lest I sprain an ankle and so on.
I’ve always been happy to do this show for it affords us all a chance to be on stage, together in our home of Australia doing what we do best. Our parents can see us in a proper cabaret without going to France and we can have some finesse in our lives too while we enjoy being so fancy. Once we’re out there, in control nothing escapes us, but the lead up is long. Weeks long, so I’m off to wrap myself up in cotton wool, exercise, eat well and wait while I transform from this to this….
20th February 2015 – concerned mums of showgirls.
Having left the family home at 16 to pursue my showgirl career, I am well placed to know how hard such big decisions can be for the parents. Usually the mums mostly, who have to answer to ongoing interrogations at home once the fledgling has flown to her/his exotic destination to work. Many parents have not traveled themselves, even if they have it’s not the same living in a strange land as it is touring it.
I often have distraught mums come to my mentoring service with the most incredibly far-fetched concocted stories they’ve heard from this person or that, who are supposed to have some inside knowledge. Sometimes it’s enough to have those myths debunked to set them at ease.
Television and press do much to fuel scares. How many of us late night workers have woken at some early hour of the morning by a long distance call from mum saying “there’s been a bomb! are you ok?!” To which you scream, “yes of course I’m OK! I don’t live on the bloody Champs Elysees mum! let me sleep!” and hang up! Oh! the poor mums!
The cruise lines have been a great way for very young entertainers to start their first forays into showbusiness in a controlled, cost-free environment. On the other hand jobs in mainland Europe require a real street-wize approach and background checks to ensure disruptive and costly blunders aren’t made which can do much to dull the lustre of the exotic destination.
Hitting the ground running, learning about all those grown-up things like taxes, insurances, medicare, bills and all these in a foreign language can be daunting to say the least. Everyday provides a new challenge, even if it’s buying a stack of different shampoos until you finally find the one that work for you hair in the hard water! Getting lost and found, discovering new places at every turn. Learning where to go and more importantly where not to. But isn’t this why we travel in the first place? To grow and have incredible experiences in fabulous places.
The lineage I have benefited from given to me from former amazing, adventurous Aussies who have paved roads before me (before internet, before fax) are gifts to be utilized to make things….? not easier, because it’s the struggles in life that build character… but more effective. To really make the absolute most of a work/travel experience which, in looking back in latter years, will only be a glorious heartbeat in a lifetime.
14th January 2015 Happy New Year! any resolutions?
I am reluctant to mention any New Years resolutions for fear I may jynx myself and not follow through as each passing year has proven to show. I have now accrued such a disappointment in my yearly lack of resolve that I’m hoping this change of tactics will bring a result ….Now that’s not to say I don’t have one….perhaps my New Years resolution is to not pronounce one? And now that I have done that, will that subsequently destroy my resolution even if I have not uttered it? Well we shan’t know as I have left it suspended now!
Suffice to say, I DO have a New Years resolution, indeed it is so dear to me that I really can’t toy with it by hollering it all over the web! How about I make a deal, with you , myself, I will give you a 3 monthly update and slowly leak some of it out, provided it’s going alright, if it’s not I shall simply hang my head in shame and avoid talking about it!
Happy New Year and may all your wishes not fall by the wayside xx
14th August 2014, How I met the lady who gave me my career.
As you may have read my Boss, Ballet Mistress and choreographer Doris Haug has just died at 89 years. I guess that is old but yet I was surprised. Knowing her disciplined and regimented ways of health and fitness I figured she would see 100! And yet it is with regret that this monument of a lady has left us.
At 17 I was led through the glass doors of the Moulin Rouge by Elias, a family friend who also was head cobbler at Clairvoy, (the company that made all the shoes for cabarets worldwide) He was a long standing acquaintance of Miss Doris I believe they had worked together in Casino du Libanon as Elias was Lebanese.
In any case they were two old grumpy people to me and I felt no warmth from either of them as I was handed over in the lobby. “This is the girl” Straight away and with out fuss right there on the carpet she started giving me enchainments of ballet to execute. She was an old lady with a bit of weight on, but she danced the steps out in full and I could tell she must’ve been a very strong dancer. She didn’t even bother turning the lights on, there was just enough daylight filtering in from the street to see. They weren’t difficult. Tombe pas de bouree glissade jete, pose piques from the corner, etc. Then some cartwheels, high kicks and some jazz moves too. The whole thing lasted 10 mins I felt confident I’d done well. Then she said “Ok come over here I need to see your boobs” with her heavy German accent. Although there was a jovial lightness behind it which set me at ease. I was prepared for this but no so much in this unceremonious way. We moved a few feet over to the foyer loos to be out of eyeshot of the street and I gave her a quick flash. “Ok so you’re taller than me, so that will do…” no tape measure was involved! “Now… there’s a principal rehearsal going on, go and attach yourself to the back of it and I’ll be back in a while”.
This bit was exciting I was going to dance more on the stage and do some show off jazz, yay! I got up behind 6 or more soloists and understudies but before too long my hopes were dashed. I couldn’t read the steps! The dancers were all doing a choreography that was so foreign to my heavily regimented classical/jazz self, I was lost! Moreover their styles were so laced with flowery affectations I could tell step from pazazz! In one hour I only managed to pick up two counts of 8’s! No one helped me or stopped to break things down which would’ve been great. Indeed they ignored I existed. It was a disaster, I knew in the pits of my stomach it was all over! I’d come to Paris and spent all my money for nothing.
Finally Doris came back, she had watched from the side for a while but was then gone for ages. She called me over “oh there you are, I completely forgot about you!” I went over and I prepared myself for the bad news. She sat me down at one of the little wall tables with the crisp white table cloth on it and without hesitation set aside the two saucers and placed a contract in front of me. “Now it’s in French and English in the red so you can read it later but you sign here” she commanded handing me the pen. I signed very quickly and sighed with relief vowing to redeem myself as soon as I could.
Doris walked me back out to the lobby.”Come back in two months when rehearsals start. Do you speak French?” she demanded. “No” I replied. ‘Well, you’ll have to learn.” she turned on her heels and left.
From then on, Doris and I had a simple relationship. I danced, she watched. She was always there, and I was always there. The reflection of her glasses in the distance of the showroom reassured me, gave me drive to strive. I knew she expected and liked good technique. For this I was grateful as my biggest fear was the job would not be challenging enough to hold me there. But it was and there I stayed, dancing for Doris for 15 years. The promotions followed and the contracts were always there. She was not a mother figure or a mate, she was my ballet mistress who demanded high standards and made us feel that my job as a dancer was worthwhile and respected. Her legacy continues.
7th August 2014, Can you put in a good word for me?
Now there’s a phrase I’ve heard a few times! It would be so easy if that were so when trying to make an ‘in’ into your chosen industry. In dance and showbiz “it’s not what you know but who you know” is still alive and well and recommendations and name dropping of good referees can and does indeed help in some instances. That’s why we have CV’s and we mention the people who have helped us get ahead in our training and career, especially if they are known values in their realm.
Call it what you like but if someone comes highly recommended and has connections to people and collegues you know and trust it’s only natural an employer will have a penchant in their direction.
How many times I was in a casting for a fashion job, where 80 girls line up only to hear the names of a few people obviously known to the casters called up while we walked away disappointed. Unfair maybe, but understandable for the people in charge only want to be sure. Very few have the guts to try the new talent and also the time and energy to develop a new relationship, of which they have no idea of the outcome.
In the early day myself I was only happy to help out, but unfortunately this didn’t go so well for me always. On one particular occasion I was so blown away by this particular girls talent, training and beauty I met in Australia, gave a strong push in her favour and as a result she was employed at the Moulin Rouge, this was back when Miss Dorris was Ballet Mistress and auditions were not held in Australia. I was not a casting agent nor was I instructed to help out, but the girl came from the same stock as me so I felt an empathy for her without really knowing her. Miss Dorris trusted my judgement as I was her Principal Dancer.
Indeed she blew Miss Dorris away for all the same reasons when she arrived to rehearsals in Paris to start her year contract. It was Dorris however who blew me a away, with a cranky tirade a few days later when the girl was no where to be found, had fled the contract and country and was never seen again! With no explanation she had simply gone, “bunked” or “done a bunk” as we call it, which is the highest all the Showgirl Cardinal Sins! I was mortified, hurt and offended and vowed from that day on, to no longer “put in a good word” for anyone.
So when recently when I was asked to “put in a good word” I knew very little about the individual but I took into consideration that she was one hour late to our meeting, made no apology about it, slow to take corrections, had a poor class track record, poor on manners and not of good nature in general, my reply was this: A. that is not something I would do and B. it would serve no purpose. If you want the job you need to get all by yourself like a big girl. I will not go out of my way to sabotage any ones effort but if asked I will give my honest opinion.
There are ways of meeting the right people, impressing on bosses or connected people, obtaining auditions and meeting and ultimately making good impressions. All credit to you if you can do that upon your own abilities! No one can ever take that achievement away from you. If you do happen to have a well connected someone give you a little push across the line, there is no shame in that, provided you keep your end of the bargain and do the right thing!
27th July 2014, Why the ballet training?
Here’s the thing…dancers can kick butt in so many styles. They can! They are astounding at contemporary, urban street dances, jazz, tap, latin and now, ever more, acrobatics, which isn’t a dance but it’s so prominently placed in dancing it’s all starting to merge. However, pull out a pair of point shoes and these same dancers shrivel, ask for some pirouettes in en dehors position and even the best turners get bumpy….? There is good reason ballet is not a represented genre in SYTYCD shows. It’s sits alone on its own lofty level.
I sat through Moulin Rouge auditions recently and it didn’t surprise me that the call for ballet training came up yet again. And yet someone mentioned, how relatively easy the work is at the Moulin and being a showgirl in general doesn’t call for such prowess. While in some instances that may be so, upon which I can talk more later, the need for solidly trained ballet dancers still prevails in the showgirl realm.
Which got me thinking why, when recruiting, do the ballet trained kids remain after all others are cut?
There’s more to ballet than meets the eye…
I spoke to my dad about it, a relative layman, he said, “..well why would you take a Ford when you can take a Ferrari? You’re not going to drive it at 300kmph everywhere you go, but when you’re cruising around town, Boy! are you gonna look good!” haha! good point made Dad!
I think that analogy speaks for itself. It’s a beautiful thing to watch a magnificently trained dancer simply walk in a graceful manner in an outrageously crafted showgirl costume. There is a level of finishing in the hands and feet that is not attended to in other genres.
There’s more still.
How much has this dancer committed and suffered for their art? Ballet remains a universal language and curriculum. A degree by which a dancer can have their skill measured. Quantified. This helps when recruiting in far off lands where the schools and standards are not known. Ballet is an international point of reference.
There’s more still.
The physique of a ballet dancers is most likely to be long and lean. There’s not the heavy upper arm and upper thigh development that can sometimes come from abundant floor work, acrobatics etc. If the dancer is to be adorned in delicate costumes, often bikinis and/or topless the presentation has to be ultra feminine. Dancers have no trouble addressing these subjects as it is part of the regime to speak about ones tool of work. The body.
Try to put yourself in the place of a muti-million dollar operation who is on the hiring end; with the choice of the worlds dancers at their disposal, who require the highest levels of commitment to their contract, where a long-haul plane ticket may be at stake, where 6 weeks on-job training is given, where living abroad in a big city can be hard, scary and outright dangerous, where wardrobes costing 10’s of thousands of dollars are supplied, where you’re locked in exclusively for a year, where you have to perform a Can Can twice a night …ALL YEAR!
Well wouldn’t you want the individual with the strongest character? The person who has demonstrated they can be trusted? The strongest muscle structure so the possibility of injury is minimized A solider in dance that can be directed? A humble person? A ballet dancer is all those things.
This is not to say that another dancer may not have those traits, some may find it discriminatory, it’s not. It’s simply a specialty of a certain kind, an elitist group to which most have put in no less than 13 years of training. That’s more than some doctors. “Doctor of Showgirl”.
I personally have always likened a showgirl to morph of a ballerina and a couture model.
Grace+Grace. Halleluiah to that!!
17th July 2014, Gold Coast Is there enough room for all the Showgirls in the world….?
It seems so many dancers want the glamour and stature of being The Showgirl nowadays. Perhaps the heavily publicized companies in Paris, Las Vegas and other cities feed the showgirl myth. Not to mention all the Showgirl Wannabees in popular culture such as Victoria Secrets models, pop stars such as Beyonce, Kylie Minogue, Taylor Swift and many other feather, jewel/donning stars are all converts to our Industry.
In my day it was something you ended up doing by default of your ‘unfortunate’ over-growing in the height, bum and boobs regions, thus cancelling out all Ballerina aspirations you may have harbored since that first primary ballet frock was put on you. Being A Prima Ballerina was the ONLY thing anyone truly wanted to be.
Being a Showgirl was not looked down upon as such, but it was considered a technical ‘cop-out’ for a dancer and to be acknowledged with some degree of pity. Even our hallowed Cyd Charrise suffered such discrimination leaving her ballet company for the silver screen. It was fortunate for me as I was never dreaming of the role of Odette, au contraire having seen the magnificence of the Lido at an early age, my mind was firmly set on being a Showgirl, I just got lucky and grew in all the right aforementioned regions.
So considering the facts that there were an enormous amount of venues of all classes, A, B and C grades worldwide, with huge casts and great pays, offset by the fact that most girls didn’t really want to be showgirls anyway, there was back in the 70’s 80’s and 90’s ample work for everyone.
Now however things have vastly changed. The roles have seemingly reversed. Hardly anyone wants to be a Ballerina and great many dancers have decided they want to be showgirls, even Kylie Minogue begged to be made part of the Lido shows and being only 160cm (average Lido height being 1m80) was declined. Coupled with the closure of so many venues and decline in live theatre in general, thanks Internet! so it turns out we over-produce dancers and under employ in general. Thanks Footy!
That said, if you are that person who is born to be a showgirl, there is no reason why one of these coveted jobs cannot be yours. The opportunities are there and the turn over is great. So embrace your curves and your geeky height, wear your heels, stand up tall and do not, do not, do not…neglect your ballet lessons…..
15th July 2014, Gold Coast
Hey Everyone! Here I am writing the first entry in what I hope to be my ongoing blog.
Why? You may ask and what can I possibly contribute to the world…da..da..da..dum…!
Well the fact of the matter is I AM contributing to “my world” ie. my direct showbiz world- that is and all the lovely and delightful, funny eccentric, gorgeously talented people in it. AND while that may sound like the most monumental ‘suck’, it’s not, it’s the cold hard facts of being a showgirl in a world of showgirls and boys; lets not forget the spunky boys! It’s a very beautiful world in which I am privileged to live. A ‘Cool World” just like in the song. But I am asked many a question and I would like to contribute in a more structured manner, thus the blog.
While I’m not excluding anyone from my “Cool world”, all are welcome, my people will understand me and what I just said and anyone else curious enough about our world might like to be along for the ride.
I have lots to get off my chest, indeed I have SO MUCH laundry to air, and having no platform on which to peg up my hose, because let’s face it: you don’ t want to impose your old, sometimes tattered knickers upon unsuspecting passers-by (like on Facebook) I figure I shall post this and see who walks through my largely ajar front gate.
It occurs to me I should write this in French too, but that will have to be for another day. In the meantime I will extend a big Welcome, Bienvenue! and be back here to get into the guts of My Showgirl Life topic.