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A&E Performance Pavilion: Burlesque in Miami

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It's hard to stand out when you're just another "fabulous" luxury condo going up in Miami. In our construction-crazed heyday of towering cranes and glass towers, a condo in downtown Miami is just another face in the crowd. Though this wouldn’t be the first time a developer has used the arts as a means to generate buzz and boost sales (you remember Wynwood before the Walls, right?), Canvas Miami has decided to partner with local arts organization Miami's Independent Thinkers, an established group of creatives who have taken a fresh approach to uniting the arts with the community.

MIT has curated a series of events geared towards bringing people to the freshly-dubbed Arts & Entertainment District, otherwise known as that area sandwiched between Wynwood and Downtown (see what they did there?) by hosting free events catering to the art and music lovers of Miami.

You may have heard about their latest event, and you may not be quite sure what to expect. The invitations and social media blasts announced simply the "A&E Performance Pavilion." MIT's Kerry McLaney said it was their intention to keep things a little mysterious. "This is vaudeville, Miami style — and since it’s the first event of its kind, we wanted it to be clandestine."
The circus style vaudeville show includes 15 acts from some of Miami's most talented performers, ranging in style from burlesque, to acrobatics, to juggling, singing and contemporary dance. Only one theme is constant: it's as uncomfortable, raunchy and sexy as any Miami-style variety show should be. As a fair warning, shy types should steer clear - the show is interactive and you may be asked to perform some rather questionable acts.

To break the ice, local performance artist Ana Mendez emerged on the scene dressed like a condom, and made up like a freaky clown. In between humping the floor and screwing with the audience, Mendez was picking a seemingly impossible wedgy and dragging her ass across the floor. Her weird slapstick was in character all evening, even during the intermission when she was torturing patrons in line for the bathroom.

Dancer Milena Straczynski delivered a desperate performance to Koop's "Strange Love" as an addict on her last rope that was every bit as exciting as it was beautifully executed. But the real head turner was Milena's boyfriend, Hampsun Jansson. Ladies, grab the popcorn and have a seat, because you won't be able to rip your eyes off this man. Hampsun is a cherub-haired Viggo Mortensen doing Channing Tatum-style moves while dangling in the air. You'll see every single muscle in his unbelievable ten-pack as he hangs in the air, arms outstretched like he's your own personal Jesus. Both Straczynski and Jansson are resident performers at strip club-cum-nightclub-cum burlesque acrobatics destination E11EVEN, so the good news is this doesn’t have to be the last time you watch them in action.
The A&E Performance Pavilion will be hosting two more shows, and entry to the shows are free on a first-come, first-serve basis. There's a happy hour and grilled cheese fest in the Canvas Miami courtyard before the show thanks to Premier Beverage and Ms. Cheezious, and complimentary Peronis and Lemon City Tea will be served during the show at the outside tent. And of course, you are totally free to peruse the model condo inside the Canvas headquarters, in case their marketing did the trick.

The A&E Performance Pavilion will take place on Friday, May 1 and Tuesday, May 5, from 8 to 10 p.m. For more information or to RSVP, visit aedistrictmiami.com.

Follow Nicole on Twitter.

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