Somewhere between Tropicana and nipple tassels exists the extravaganza that is Pasión Burlesque. Coproduced by Alexis Morgenstern and dancer Aurora Natrix, the show combines elements of the classic American stage performance and Latin flair. The show’s sold-out debut took place nearly two years ago, and this Friday the second installment takes over Teatro de Bellas Artes in Little Havana.
Pasión Burlesque features the work of six dancers — Angela La Muse, Aurora Natrix, Erika Moon, Miss Jenna Beth, Sofia Luna, and Tush the Onyx Foxx — all of whom perform regularly in South Florida, and many of whom live here.
“The performers are all characters in their own rights, so that’s one thing that really attracted me to it — these personalities and personas that they are. Their outfits reflect that, as well as the music that they perform to,” Morgenstern says. “They put so much effort into their costumes and so much effort into their choreography and with their music, and they don’t really have the platform to lift them up to that.”
Despite Miami’s many salacious forms of entertainment, burlesque has never been at the forefront of the performance culture, Morgenstern says. The art form is inherently theatrical, which is precisely what attracted the event producer/graphic designer/promoter in the first place. Produced by Morgenstern’s company, A Morningstar Production, this type of performance deserves the spotlight.
“Let’s take it back to a classic theater setting. Let’s get the spotlight on [the dancers],” he urges. “Let’s really showcase who they are, how they perform, their characters and personas. Each one has their own minishow going on, and it’s fun!”
To do that, the venue and live music play vital roles. Morgenstern chose Teatro de Bellas Artes because of its historical importance for much of Miami’s Cuban community. And aesthetically, the older stage still includes its vintage track lights and reupholstered seats from the old Miracle Theatre.
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Likewise, the Miami Big Sound Orchestra was a natural choice for providing the soundtrack. Members of the fluid big-band group have performed with Latin musical heroes such as Celia Cruz and Gloria Estefan. But as a big band, it's also rooted in jazz. As Morgenstern notes, the cultural blending parallels that of Pasión Burlesque, which combines American cabaret and Latin dancing.
Most important, though, the evening celebrates multiple elements of the local community: fashion, comedy, theater, arts, music, dance, and small businesses. Two local independent boutiques will be involved in the event — Gables Corset Shoppe outfitted three lucky participants to model onstage during the show, and L.A. Boudoir Miami will have vintage items for sale in the lobby. Additionally, comedian Rio Dios Mio will host the show.
Through these artistic choices and community-minded partnerships, Morgenstern wants to revive the appreciation for burlesque in Miami and introduce newcomers to the art form. He hopes Pasión Burlesque will become a regular theatrical fixture: "I want to be involved in a production that is going to be a little more long-term in a community that is going to stay."
9 p.m. Friday, January 29, at Teatro de Bellas Artes, 2173 SW Eighth St., Miami, Tickets cost $25 to $40 and are available at pasionburlesque.com.