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Enthusiasm - Chicago Burlesque Dancer Red Hot Annie Weinert
She really makes the wieners boil!

Red Hot Annie / Ann Marie Weinert
Date: 2013-04-29 16:39
Subject: Enthusiasm
Security: Public
So glad I waited this long (nearly five years of producing) until I started putting together this weekly show.

I'm most grateful that my skin has gotten so thick.

A weekly show can be one of the most trying things on a burlesque ensemble. If you're lucky, you've got a team that will give you a relatively constant stream of feedback - good, bad, and otherwise, but will still "buy in" even if their ideas aren't implemented, because they see the bigger picture and opportunity for growth. But that doesn't mean that the feedback will be easy to swallow. It's comforting to realize that I'm at the point in my business where I can finally sit back, listen, and not take any of it personally, and I can really hear some AMAZING ideas because of that.

The first four week series (After Dark) of "Vaudezilla!" was more successful than I believed it could be - we got a couple great reviews, sold out a couple of the shows, and had a great audience at each and every show. Now, as I look forward to the next five weeks of Naughty Nostalgia, and what it means to produce a show where I'm not even part of the ensemble for four to six weeks, I'm humbled by how far we've come.

It's incredible to me that I have finally found such a great, cohesive group of performers who believe in the evolution of a show and are willing to roll up their sleeves and make it into something special. We are not pretty girls doing pretty, sexy things while the men take the "heavy lifting." We are leaders, teachers, and creatives working towards a common goal - we are comedians, actors, dancers - AND burlesque performers - all rolled into one filthy, glitter-filled package.

Vaudezilla has never been complacent.
And it shows.

We started by inventing the sustainable free bar show, where performers get paid for performing on a regular weekly/monthly basis. There was no such thing prior to our arrival on the local scene, and even nationally, most performers have never heard of this kind of arrangement. We instituted a variety of sustainable ways to systematize one's show, as well as larger scale ways of making burlesque into a business, many of which are now used locally to many producer's success.

Like every other burlesque troupe that has ever existed, we've lost performers - and not very many, considering the hundreds of shows we've produced in just five years, the mandatory weekly rehearsals that include candid act critiques, and my own personal shortcomings - when applicable! :)

But, we've also expanded and refined how we introduce new performers into the world of burlesque in a way that's most supportive of their skills - and with every new project, we have fearlessly experimented with our formatting, our ensemble, our production crew, and more. With every year, we are able to put more and more money into our performer's pockets.

Two years ago, spurred on by an explosion of personal suffering and a desire to rise above it, I opened my first storefront - a dance studio. It's hard to believe that Vaudezilla Studios has been around for two years, and from the looks of things, there's no sign of slowing down! Having the studio has allowed our performers to further refine their performance, communication, and business skills by allowing many of us a level of autonomy and leadership when teaching - and has let us put more money into our performer's pockets.

While many may fumble with issues like performer pay, we are continuing to reinvent the way our performers are compensated, and building a business that allows us to put several thousand dollars into the majority of our performer's pockets each year.

And it's not because I'm awesome (which I am), it's because I've always held strong to the Aaron Sorkin's little word of advice: "If you're dumb, surround yourself with smart people. If you're smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you." My team is what has made it all happen.

We are creating the sustainable burlesque ensemble.


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