In a revival of Tempo's "10 Questions" column, we chose to speak with Corrina Llopart, founder and director of Coco's Hen House of Burlesque, in advance of the troupe's "Spicy Summer …
In a revival of Tempo's "10 Questions" column, we chose to speak with Corrina Llopart, founder and director of Coco's Hen House of Burlesque, in advance of the troupe's "Spicy Summer Striptease" planned Saturday (June 29), 8 p.m., at the Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership, 20 ABC Mesa Road, off U.S. 64 west. Tickets are $12. The show, as one might assume, is for mature audiences.
Llopart's group of performers are said to be the "longest running burlesque company in Taos," dating back to at least 2016. Here's what she had to say …
1. What will audiences see at your show? Who are the special guests and what are they known for?
Our audience will see a variety of classic and neo-burlesque styles, cosplay ["costume play"] and nerdlesque [burlesque combined with the nerdy and geeky] acts, comedy, acro and aerials. I absolutely love producing a show with an array of talented performers.
I have met some of the most amazing burlesque dancers near and far. I wish I could bring everyone of them to Taos. I've started bringing out-of-town performers to keep our show fresh and exciting. Not that we're not exciting enough, but I love providing a new burlesque experience to not only our audience but our local Hen House performers as well. The three guest performers I bring up are Lottie LaRouge and Raven Lass of Albuquerque and Mena Domina of Santa Fe. These ladies are all producers and directors of their own burlesque troupes. They have all traveled the country performing, as I have started to do in the past year. I actually also shared the stage with Lottie LaRouge in the 2018 Michigan Burlesque Festival.
2. Who is your main audience?
Our main audience is obviously mature adults. Burlesque shows are extremely risqué, boundaries are pushed, but who actually has fun by following the rules? It's quite fair to say that women may enjoy our shows more than the men! (said with a wink.)
3. Can you describe for us the costumes? Who makes them? What is their inspiration?
There will be such a variety of costumes at this show. Our costumes come from everywhere and everything you can imagine - items from secondhand stores mixed with old jewelry, with added rhinestones for that extra sparkle; a ballgown that either we designed ourselves or had custom-made for us. For me the inspiration of a costume comes from the song I have chosen to perform or the character I am trying to portray. I actually hadn't made one of my own costumes in about two or three years, until I finally forced myself to spend time with sewing machines, and out came the costume for my recently debuted "Golden Goddess" act.
However, for the group dances I try to keep the costumes a little more on the simple side - costumes are expensive, whether you're buying remade items or creating your own. I front all of the cost with hopes of being able to pay myself back through ticket sales - fingers crossed.
4. How long has Coco's Hen House of Burlesque been performing?
The burlesque scene in Taos has gone through many transitions, and still continues to. Coco's Hen House of Burlesque was technically formed January 1, 2016, though a few of our members, including myself, have been performing much longer than that. Though, I proudly say that Coco's Hen House is the longest running burlesque production in Taos.
5. Can you elaborate on the quote from your website by Dita Von Teese: "It's not about seducing men, it's about embracing womanhood"?
The interpretation of what burlesque is to most people is a bit inaccurate. It's not about just about getting up onstage, strutting around and removing your clothes. Burlesque is one of the most body positive forms of dance out there. It is just about the only dance art form that has no rules, no limitations, no judgement and shame. Though, this quote might be slightly out-of-date, burlesque is still a female-dominated art form. But we strip for history of burlesque and what it means to us, we strip because we have fun being comfortable in our own skin and we strip to show the audience that we're all sexy, sexual and that everybody is beautiful. Every body is a burlesque body.
6. What are your classes like? Describe the scene - how are inhibitions worked on, reasons dancers decide to participate, etc.
I provide a rotating variety of classes. They shift from burlesque 101, stage/self presences, chair tricks, floor tricks, history, building your own act (should you decide to perform) neo-burlesque, and each class comes with choreography detailing the focus for that particular evening. Though I do take my classes seriously, I like to keep them light, fun and humorous and there is never any pressure to perform. Working through inhibitions can take time, some overcome their self-conscious hiccups and may even be ready to hit the stage in a matter of weeks, as others may take much longer to even open up to their peers in class. Everyone is different and I take pride in working through everyone's comfort levels.
Most students start coming to my classes because: 1. They may have just recently had a breakup or divorce, and are looking to regain that empowered self-worth feeling. 2. They went to our most recent show and decided that they wanted to give it a try. 3. They want to learn how to be sexy, either for their partner or for some extra self-confidence.
Burlesque classes are an interesting thing. I have been performing burlesque specifically for six years. I have taken many classes and workshops from other performers and from several crowned "queens of burlesque," yes, there is a such a thing. It's call the Burlesque Hall of Fame - I refer to it as a Miss America competition but for strippers! Anyway, I have studied this type of dance for the past six years and continue to do so. As I've mentioned before, burlesque is its own art form. Some may be fantastic at other forms of dance but that does not qualify them as a burlesque teacher. Much like I would not be a successful modern dance teacher.
Dirty Martini recently told a group of us teachers that "unless you have been performing striptease burlesque consistently for at least five years, then you have no business teaching burlesque." As someone who started teaching well before that time frame, I wholeheartedly agree. I encourage future burlesque students near or far to do your research and find the best burlesque teacher that suits your needs and teaches what you want to learn. My classes are held every Monday at 7:30 p.m. every Thursday 7 p.m. at the Taos School of Burlesque, located within the walls of the High Frequency Loft.
7. How are stage names picked, such as Coco Blu for you, and others?
Stage names can come from many places. Some spark from our best assets, like Tera Tetas our TITillating R'tease't, for example. Some portray who we want our burlesque persona to be, or what our personality is like. Pixie Paige the bubblegum of burlesque or Chica Boom-Boom one of our spicy feisty Latinas. My name Ms. Coco Blu actually started from a nickname that was given to me. I was being called Coco by a friend so I ended up shifting through a couple names involving the word Coco before I added Blu.
8. How do you develop your choreography? Who are some of your standout performers?
I develop choreography in two different ways. I either have a song to start with or a concept. Every one of my dancers has something amazing to offer and everyone of them inspires someone else. I am as inclusive as I can possible be. If someone wants to be onstage, who am I to tell them they can't? If anyone wants to be a part of the group dances, I do require them to take classes because we all need stay on our game!
9. As you've become well known, what is it like for you travel and perform in other places?
Traveling to perform has been nothing short of a dream come true. I have met such amazing people, performers, burlesque legends and, of course, some of my favorite performers. I am so grateful to have the opportunity. Paying for it is another story. A majority of us cannot do this for a living, so we work our asses off in order to pay our traveling expenses. There is a whole lot of couch surfing, hotel sharing, carpooling, pastie tape borrowing, awkward closet-size dressing rooms and the cheapest airline red-eye flying glamor that comes along with us. I have truly learned how to burlesque on a budget.
10. What is your favorite kind of dance, moves or performance?
My favorite dance moves for burlesque in particular is anything involving props, such as ostrich fans or chairs. Many have seen my advanced chair trick where I balance upside down on a folding chair while - with my teeth - execute a double stocking peel in my "Million Dollar Man" act. Props can add a big teasing touch to many burlesque acts.
I would also like to add, Coco's Hen House of Burlesque has started adding more events than our occasional production. We are trying to branch out into other aspects of the community.
We have started hosting a monthly Eggs and Babes Burlesque Brunch the first Sunday of each month from 1-3 p.m. at Old Martina's Hall. Eggs and Babes offers performances from a rotating cast, special menu items, games and whole lot of fun to finish off your weekend. You'll never have the same experience twice.
We have also started hosting a Burlesque-a-Sketch figure drawing class once a month. The location of this class is currently at Paseo Pottery Taos. So, calling all artists for a fun and teasing take on figure drawing.
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