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Bang Bang Burlesque

Halloween is all about getting your freak on. You can re-invent yourself, explore a strange character, or morph into whatever Gwar-esque monster your heart desires. The young women of Bang Bang Burlesque, a troupe of 16 students here in Halifax, have chosen to express their inner freak by performing a series of sexual and thought-provoking dances on Halloween night.

It all began last year, when then first-year University of King’s College student Delia Macpherson decided to start a performance troupe. Macpherson is a combined honours student studying journalism and theatre. She loves all things erotic and dark. She directed her high school play, Peter Pan, a couple of years ago. She says her love of spooky erotic movements emerged in part from that experience.

“We did an alternative version (of the play). The mermaids were creepy and seductive, they were painted metallic silver with shells in their hair,” Macpherson says. “They were really sexy and creepy looking. It was heavy choreography with creative music, and it was really well received.”

It was last year that she first joked with her friends about starting a burlesque troupe.

“Roxy Velvet was a massive inspiration for me. She’s a model from the U.K. who does a routine where she’s a nurse. She’s sexy and plays out the whole fantasy thing, but in the middle she cuts herself open. It’s a combination of beauty and sexual fantasy with gore, death and blood. It’s really erotic and hard to watch, but you’re fascinated. You can’t not watch.”

Macpherson held auditions at King’s last year, and accepted girls with a huge variety of talent. Their capabilities ranged from dance to yoga to karate. Some girls had previous dance training while others have none at all. Some have also done theatre and others simply wanted to get involved. Right now there are 16 members in the troupe, including Macpherson.

She admits there was a negative response to Bang Bang Burlesque at first, but that people became more open to the idea once they understood what it was all about.

The Halloween gig, which will be held at The Seahorse Tavern on Argyle Street, is actually their first public performance, but their girls are planning another for the spring.

Macpherson admits that originally she only wanted to choreograph and direct the shows, but ended up performing as well.

She’ll even be performing a solo on Halloween night, which was choreographed by Hayley Lynch. Macpherson says she seeks advice from the other girls when she feels stuck.

“It’s a group thing and we collaborate,” she says. “I’m not power tripping or anything like that. At least I hope not.”

Promotions manager at The Seahorse, Troy Arsenault, helped big time with setting up the Halloween performance.

“I went in to meet him and he was the nicest guy,” says Macpherson. “He gave us the Halloween spot and we started rehearsing in September.”

There are 16 dances in total, each set to a different song by one of four great local bands. Bloodbath will open the show before the dancing starts. Other bands accompanying the dancers that night will be Myles Deck and The Fuzz, Broken Ohms, Gloryhound and Big Game Hunt.

Each dance has a different number of girls and a different theme. Expect solo performances. Themes include Broadway, “fucked-up ballerina,” rock and roll groupies, vulture demons, skeleton dance, master and slave, cops and sexy librarian among others.

“She’s wearing a body suit with a terrifying mask, and she’s stunning,” says Meghan Oliver, another member of the troupe, describing the “creepy mask dance,” a solo performance by Julia Hutt. “It’s sexual and scary. She’s very monster-like and disjointed, but she’s so sweet in real life!”

Dani Pacey will perform the “skeleton dance” solo. She’ll be almost nude with bones painted on her skin.

“She’s a very tiny girl and completely embraces that,” says Meghan. “She made this something great.”
The girls are quick to tell me the performance is not about a bunch of Barbies on stage.  It’s about being erotic, beautiful and sexy in unconventional ways.

“It’s all about creative movement, about moving your body in a certain way and taking on a character,” she says. “Attitude is so important.”

The performance will take place at The Seahorse on Argyle Street, at 10 p.m. on Halloween night. Tickets are $10 at the door. Visit www.bangbangburlesque.yolasite.com.

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