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Portland Burlesque and the Hawaii connection : Violetta Beretta interview
Frankie Tease sat down to talk with one of Portland, Oregon's favorite visiting Burlesque performers. Topics include: Honolulu, how a life-long ballerina started doing Burlesque, and what does Portland have to do with Honolulu anyway?
Frankie-How long have you been a resident of Honolulu?
Violetta-I was born and raised in Hawaii! I'm Native Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese, European and Native American, which I think is a great representation of Hawaii's unique cultural strata. I love my island home and the "aloha spirit" that resides here!
Frankie-That's beautiful. In Honalulu you are a burlesque performer and producer am I correct?
Violetta-I consider myself a performer more than anything, I've helped to produce shows but usually do so as a choreographer and costumer. I'm thinking about beginning to produce on a limited basis though.
Frankie-You are an amazing performer that is always well recieved in Portland for your unique choreography and innovative costumes. When did you first visit and or perform in Portland? What is the PDX Hawaii connection?
Violetta-I first came to PDX to visit my best friend Meghan Mayhem, who re-located a few months before. When I arrived the Burlesque scene there was VERY limited with very few shows going on. My first show was with you, the darling Ms. Frankie Tease! It was so amazing, and I had so much fun in the city that I decided to re-locate and try to build my burlesque resume on the continent as well as to maybe help grow the Portland scene a bit in my own way.
Frankie-Wow I thought you'd been to Portland to perform before that, what an honor. Also Meghan Meghan introduced us, for which I'm greatful. she's an amazing performer who now has a baby!
Violetta-Yes! Meghan is amazing! Here's a weird fact, we share a Birthday. March 22nd. That's meant to be, right?
Frankie-I couldn't forget that, because we had you both in the Tease Time one year anniversary Mar. 21st 2010, a day before your birthdays, in Portland at the Someday Lounge. So how long have you been a classically trained ballerina? Is there other formal training you have as well?
Violetta- I began ballet training when I was about 5 years old and have been dancing ever since. In addition to Ballet I've also studied: Hula, Tahitian, Jazz, Modern, Flamenco, Tap, Ballroom, Hip Hop & Street, Aerial Tissue, Gymnastics, Acrobatics and Pole Dance. I also have experience in Theater and Dramatics.
Frankie-What is Aerial Tissue?
Violetta-Aerial silk (also known as aerial contortion, aerial ribbons, aerial silks, aerial tissues, fabric, ribbon, or tissu, depending on regional preference) is a type of performance in which one or more artists perform aerial acrobatics while hanging from a special fabric. Performers climbs the suspended fabric without the use of safety lines, and rely only on their training and skill to ensure safety. They use the fabric to wrap, suspend, fall, swing, and spiral their bodies into and out of various positions. Aerial silks may be used to fly through the air, striking poses and figures while flying.
Frankie-That adds a degree of difficulty for sure. When you approach what act to do, is it based upon the stage size, the audience you expect or another driving factor?
Violetta-I take so many things into account: the theme of the event, the venue, the space, the crowd, how weird I'm feeling that day and of course, the music, and of course whether they have the ability to hang either a gigantic mustache or an aerial rig.
Frankie-I've seen your mustache act! How many times have you had the pleasure of performing to a live band in any city?
Violetta-I've performed with live bands all over the world! From Honolulu Hawaii (The Hell Caminos, Black Square, Richard Cheese) to Paris (Regine) to San Diego (Ape!), but I never got the chance to in Portland, though I would love to do so in the future.
Frankie-How do you find performing to recorded music different than performing to live music?
Violetta-I think that it's a necessary evil. My dream of course would be to have a dedicated backing band however, that can be limiting in terms of musical genres. I wish I could carry around several miniaturized bands in one of my many costume trunks when I perform!
Frankie-I was surprised to see the Rockettes show did have all recorded music. It is a sign of the times. On the large scale how do you compare the Portland Burlesque arena to Honolulu and for that matter, other cities you've performed in?
Violetta-Every city I've performed in is so different from the other! New York City was amazing because of all the really inspiring and raw performers there. Europe, at the time I performed in London and Paris, was not really super big on burlesque (though one would think it would be) with only a few clubs in the city (Madame Jojo's/Regine were class acts) though lately my pals across the pond tell me the London scene is really blowing up! Portland and Hawaii are similar, though I feel Hawaii has a bit more time and experience under it's belt. I'm a senior member of Honolulu's only burlesque troupe and we've been working steadily for the past 4 years. I see the possibilities in the Portland scene because the venues in comparison to Honolulu are so much more plentiful and the performers have alot more access to costuming materials etc. In Honolulu everything comes by boat or plane-EVERYTHING!
Frankie-Right the island situation. So let me get this right, you get two things out of your trip to Portland, 1) to perform, 2) to shop! Aren't we lucky?!
Violetta-Right! but also dont forget the chance to hang and perform with some amazing pals! I am so inspired by so many of the performers in PDX and love to see them in action! Meghan Mayhem, Baby Le Strange, Angelique Deville, Ellie Darling, Madison Moone....the list could go on forever, but I'll stop there...oh, and of course...Frankie Tease! Come on, you know I love your headstand, nobody else does it!
Frankie-You are too kind. How long have you been performing burlesque, and what inspired you to embark onto the journey that it is?
Violetta-I've been performing burlesque for about five years. I come from a long line of dancer / performers. My Grandmother and Mother were both professional Hula dancers here in Hawaii, as am I occasionally and I think it's in the blood. I've always been drawn to performing and dancing, since I was a little one, and of course, my love for the arts has only grown. I guess I was influenced mostly by the grace and luxury of Ballet, the lavish costumes of the old MGM movies and musicals, WWII era fashion and living, the bohemians of Momatre Paris, the sultry and hypnotic dances of Polynesia,
and the idea of taking my audience away from the pedestrian and into the surreal, be it hilarious or lovely.
Frankie-True good entertainment is escapism.
Violetta-Especially in these times!
Frankie-What are your goals and when will Portland see you again?
Violetta-My goals..hmm...well, I guess first and foremost to be the best performer I can be, to work hard, travel, gain experience and hopefully friends along the way and to enjoy every moment of it! I'm considering joining an agency that would foster more burlesque related travel, which would be very fun, but am weighing my options first. PDX will see me very soon I expect perhaps July, stay tuned for confirmation!
Frankie-So since you live on an island, we can forward your mail. Fans of Violetta can send gifts to 833 SE Main St. c-12, Portland, OR., 97214. Tell us what they can send to make your life more interesting?
Violetta-Portland fans should feel free to continue to be their badass selves, support all the amazing performers locally, keep in touch with me over in Honolulu, and of course, send me lots of pretty Rhinestones to appease the volcano.
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