by Samantha Scott
There's more to burlesque than what meets - or doesn't meet - the eye.
The members of Burlesque Noir, a self-described neo-burlesque troupe, practice for about six hours each week, said Holly Rebelle, the troupe's founder. And the rehearsal has clearly had an effect on Burlesque Noir's artistic evolution.
Since Burlesque Noir began in January 2005, the troupe has made dramatic creative and conceptual advances. Rebelle started the troupe as a side project to former Albuquerque fetish performance group Crushed Velvet Rope.
Rebelle said Burlesque Noir began by performing alongside Crushed Velvet Rope, performing five or six pieces per show. Now, it performs 14 to 20 burlesque pieces per show, as well as hosting two to four guest performers.
"We have grown to produce, direct and perform full-length shows," Rebelle said.
Rebelle said troupe members regularly dedicate a chunk of their busy schedules to sewing costumes and holding meetings about aesthetics, choreography and production.
"Our process is a continual challenge to learn and grow. I try to allow room for every member of the company to contribute ideas and their own work," Rebelle said. "This project is so fortunate to have so many talented people who volunteer to keep it alive."
Burlesque Noir is an all-volunteer team. But although it's obviously a labor of love, the troupe has serious ambition.
Rebelle plans to enter applications for Burlesque Noir in the Miss Exotic World Pageant and Tease-O-Rama competitions in the near future.
"I attended the Miss Exotic World Pageant this year and was incredibly inspired and amazed at burlesque across the world," Rebelle said. "I do hope to be able to perform nationally and hopefully be selected to compete in the future."
In the past, Burlesque Noir's shows have used themes relating to Bollywood, Catholic schoolgirls, Elvis, geishas and "The Wizard of Oz." In each of these vignettes, Burlesque Noir has combined its unique sensibilities with traditional burlesque conventions. The result is entertaining, sometimes humorous and always visually transfixing.
Burlesque Noir's next show is July 28 at the Launchpad. The theme of this show is "Burlesque Noir Works It!"
"We have pieces that range from four sassy waitresses to a spoof on the Village People," she said.
Burlesque Noir welcomes Violet Coquette and Lily Laine into its bawdy fold for their first burlesque performance.
Local Afro-Latino percussion ensemble Concepto Tambor and break-dancing company Ultra High Frequency Krew will provide additional aural and visual stimulation.
People should consider attending the show "because it's fun," Rebelle said. "It is an incredibly unique form of entertainment that anyone with an open mind and a sense of humor will enjoy."
Burlesque Noir Works It!
$8 before 10 p.m., $10 thereafter