Blustering winds, white as far as the eye can see, and the ever-present danger of frostbite has Minnesotans craving warmth. Burlesque Dolls’ newest production, Diversi-Tease, is a pageant of passions sure to make temperatures rise. Showcasing top-notch talent from near and far, the weekend-long event summons stars of burlesque, drag, vaudeville and cabaret to the Midwest in the middle of winter. Audience members can expect five shows over three days fiilled with sensational soloists, ensembles, and tableaus.
The excitement kicks off with Thursday’s “off the cuff” Improv-a-Tease Opening Night Gala. Guests will be delighted with special guest vocalists and emcees, and, of course, improvisational burlesque performances by the weekend’s stars to live jazz, courtesy of the Le Cirque Rouge Cabaret and Burlesque Band.
If that wasn’t enough commotion, return Friday and Saturday night for the Snowflake Showcases, hosted by World Famous *BOB* and featuring burlesque legend Toni Elling. Known for her over the top blonde bombshell image and incredible ability to mix martinis in her cleavage, *BOB* has captivated audiences all over the world with her unique burlesque stylings, humorous performance art, and MC skills. Toni Elling, known as “The Duke’s Delight” (she is billed as a Duke Ellington protégé), toured the country as a triple threat ecdysiast; singer, dancer, and stripteaser. It was a very tough climb up the ladder for Elling, as African American strippers in the 1960s were not paid as well, or able to work in all of the clubs. Elling’s story serves as an inspiration to burlesque performers and women of color. She continues to perform today and supports the new performers that pursue burlesque.
What more could you ask for? How about “The Golden Glamazon” and reigning Princess of Burlesque Sydni Deveraux, or vaudevillian sex symbol and 2012 King of Burlesque Russell Bruner? Not to mention the Minneapolis return of Lola Van Ella, “The Derriere Beyond Compare,” and Sammich the Tramp, “The Punk Rock Hobo”, and many more unique and amazing performers. Coming from across the country, coast to coast, these top-notch performers hail from all over Minnesota, New York, California, and everywhere in between – even Paris!
The variety of performers serves the very mission of Diversi-Tease: variety. The mission of Burlesque Dolls and Diversi-Tease is to support and promote the art of burlesque by offering high-caliber performance and cross-genre collaboration, marrying the grand spectacle of earlier eras with innovative entertainers of today. With cross-genre collaborations in mind, the performers range from professional dancers to aerialists. The weekend will feature over 40 unique artists, creating a show that will delight aficionados and wow a new generation of variety show fans.
Burlesque isn’t just left to the professionals, however. Workshop Wonderland will be held during the day Friday and Saturday for those who desire the Diversi-Tease experience to fill their days as well as nights. Expert classes will be taught by stars of the weekend, including World Famous *BOB*’s “Ultimate Self Confidence! Workshop for Women”, and “Tips & Tales with Toni Elling!” Queenie von Curves, one of the producers of Diversi-Tease, invites everyone to participate in the workshops “Regardless of race, gender, age, size, or whatever, you have something to say. Which is so unique to this genre. You don’t have to fit a mold or fit a type.”
Burlesque Dolls is the new partnership of Myron Johnson, Sweetpea, and Queenie von Curves. Johnson, founder and artistic director of the Ballet of the Dolls, with over 50 years’ experience in dance, theater, and mime performance and production, choreographed the opening acts. Sweetpea is a nationally-acclaimed performer and producer in her own right, named 2013’s “Most Dazzling Dancer” by the Burlesque Hall of Fame. Since moving to Minneapolis in 2006, Queenie von Curves has worn many hats, including costume designer, company dancer with Ballet of the Dolls, actress, and dance teacher with Playful Peacock Showgirl Academy.
“I think it’s really important to promote and show how within this genre it is so diverse,” Queenie says. “Whether it’s ‘I don’t fit into a gender,’ or ‘I fit into both genders.’ Maybe I’m a bigger girl. It doesn’t really matter who you are or where you come from as long you can bring it.”
January 30-February 1
The Ritz Theater
Tickets: $35 – $150
Reserve tickets online at www.ritzdolls.com or call the box office at (612) 436-1129