Friday, April 27, 2012

Dangerous & Exciting things: Fire, Karnival, and Russian Roulette

April is flying by, my friends. Feels like the First Friday show just happened, but the month is almost over.

I've been taking a break from fine art and general painting, for the most part -- my post-art-show decompression activities have included practices, rehearsals and/or meetings nearly every night of the week in preparation for upcoming performances and shows. By day I'm a brunch slinging, cappucino crafting barista... then I spend countless hours concocting and calculating the perfect balance of visual psychedelic geometric dreamscapes in oils and acrylics... by night I'm a fire twirling, feather teasing alter-ego of myself on stage and in my "spare time" (what's that, again?)  I'm customizing said alter-egos showstopping threads from old tired garments and thrift store scores... all while planning a 45 minute, prime night & time fire variety show for a festival of a few thousand attendees.

Scorch Fire Show, PEX Summer Festival 2010 - performing the opening number, "Shiva." 
Photo by Oscar P.

It's that time of year again and planning for the summer's festivities, including the now legendary PEX Summer Festival has begun. Though it started with a disorganized dream, four years later we find ourselves for the first time keeping the exact same show name and administrative team - the Russian Roulette Variety Show, featuring the hottest, most talented troupes and performers from Philadelphia (and beyond) showcasing their newest work every year at PEX Summer Fest in the coveted Friday night spot. I am proud to announce that The Russian Roulette Variety Show is now accepting submissions for performers as well, which you can do by filling out the form here.

 A shot from behind the "stage" - Scorch Fire Show,  PEX Summer Festival 2010. Jexime Icon performing her fire fan solo in front of the Shiva fire sculpture (built for the show by Vinny Gasper, funded by a grant from PEX.)
 Photo by Emily Watson.

 Scorch Fire Show, PEX Summer Festival 2010 - performing the opening number, "Shiva." 
Photo by Emily Watson.  

R.R.V.S., please be advised, is a variety show - meaning there is no performance genre too weird (or too normal either, I suppose) to be considered. But performers be advised - if you haven't already begun working on the piece you are thinking of submitting, you may be out of luck. Giving that the festival is only a few months away, we are looking for troupes and performers that already have their shit together, to put it bluntly. Along with filling out the application form, you are required to submit a video to us of your current progress for your specific performance for the show. (Even if it's rough, even if you don't have it 100% figured out, we need to see it. Apparently some folks don't understand this concept.) Chances are if you haven't started working on this already, it might not be "done" in time for PEX. If this is your situation, don't fret - this is not the first, nor the last show from Russian Roulette. If you really want to put in the effort, chances are you will be able to be part of this magnificent and magnanimous show.

Why are we implementing such specific guidelines and demanding requirements for Russian Roulette? It's very simple - for one, of course, we want our show to be the best it can be. Keeping the acts interesting, different... the choreography polished, the music varied, making sure the entire show flows in a way that will keep our audience eagerly awaiting the next act. No awkward pauses between acts, no boring 7 minute solo acts with the same prop, NO intermission (people just get up and leave) and of course, no one catching on fire. (Very important.) Most of us involved on the administrative team have been doing a similar show for the past few years, and we've made the mistakes we needed to make to learn from them... this "disorganized dream" that wasn't even my own, when it began, has come a long way. (When I first got involved and the summer festival was in it's infancy - I was very very new to fire, to performing, to PEX, to everything - but, felt drawn to do it still, knowing that I had a very different but useful range of experience under my belt and in my heart I could make these shows better than they would otherwise be.)

Here is a great video by Hedy Sirico from 2010's PEX Summer Fest 
performance of Scorch Fire Show.

Anyway, myself and the rest of the R.R.V.S. admin team are busting our asses right now (we don't get paid for this, remember) to put on another fabulous show this summer. I absolutely consider this another part of my "art", it just happens to be within a different genre.

Lux Arati performing at PEX Summer Festival in 2011 as part of The Russian Roulette Variety Show. 

Lux Arati performing at PEX Summer Festival in 2011 as part of The Russian Roulette Variety Show. (Not sure who took these photos - apologies for not giving due credit. If this is yours please contact me ASAP and I will get on that.)

This weekend - Saturday night - I will be performing with both of my groups, Lux Arati and The Penny Treats at Karnival. The Penny Treats are performing an old number that we've reworked (think- red feather fans...) and Lux Arati is debuting something brand new, totally mind-blowing and maybe still in-progress. I like to think of this show as a dress rehearsal for PEX Summer Fest and R.R.V.S. -- although I hope it will still be as kick-ass as it should be. For once, I picked the track we're performing to - "All Alone" by Gorillaz. It happened to be on a mix CD in my car, one of the only CD's it felt like playing for awhile, and I must have listened to it on repeat for a week before playing it for my girls. It's a little electronic, a little hip hop, and a little booty shakin' action, little bit of BOUNCE-WIGGLE-BOUNCE... all that... plus bellydancing with fire fans? Holy shitballs. This is gonna be quite a spectacle. Watch out... literally, because some of the moves are pretty complicated and if we drop our flaming fans on you, it may burn a little. Might sting a bit.

 Lux Arati fire montage - poster for Karnival, April 28th at the Arts Garage in Philly.

On that note, I REALLY have to work on my costume for tomorrow. Click on this link to get to the Facebook event for Karnival. Here are some of the bangin' posters for the event featuring yours truly. I will post relevant media when I have it available.

(Oooh la la!)

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