'ADDICTED TO LOVE'
Volar y Aerial Burlesque teams up with Kalalea Fire for ‘80-inspired ensemble show, ‘Addicted to Love’
The performers of Volary Aerial Burlesque are once again “Addicted to Love” — back for a second run at The Republik, with new performances revolving around an ’80s-inspired theme.
Look for airborne performances on silk, trapeze, rings and a new piece of equipment — the “flying pole,” which spins, turns and swings to add additional motion to the presentation.
If I think about what we do … the passion that we have, each one of the dancers — we are addicted to love.”
Jesa Simpkins Volary Aerial Burlesque director
Also new this year: a collaboration with Kalalea Fire, a Kauaiborn aerial and fire-dancing troupe that has expanded into Honolulu.
Joining the dancers on stage will be host/drag queen Mizz April Füllz and guest performer Violetta Beretta, a singer and burlesque artist.
Last year’s shows sold out completely. Jesa Simpkins, director of Volary Aerial Burlesque, said she expects an enthusiastic turnout again this weekend.
“What’s really fun about this show is that it’s real kitschy, it’s very light,” Simpkins said. “There are a lot of aspects that are funny; I mean, we’ve incorporated aspects like the California Raisins. …
“The crowd last year went insane — and we love our audience. We see them not as an audience, but as our guests.”
In some numbers, audience participation will be welcomed (though never forced), Simpkins noted. And guests who want to dress in an ’80s theme are invited to do so.
Based on Volary’s interaction with patrons, seating and staging have been improved this year, Simpkins said, with fewer seats and better sight lines, not to mention more performers and apparatuses.
VOLARY’S aerial performers consider themselves dancers who float and add the art of burlesque to the mix, Simpkins said, emphasizing the troupe’s unique combination of “bold, athletic grace and sultry tease.”
“There’s a really amazing bond between us women, and I think that’s what we bring to the stage and ultimately, what the audience catches,” Simpkins said. “We work collaboratively, so we pick and choose the themes.
“For this one, we chose all these really iconic themes from the ’80s. … ‘Flashdance,’ for instance, because that’s been a big influence. What little girl didn’t love Jennifer Beals?
“Basically, we do this because it’s our joy and passion.”
The troupe is a sister organization to Samadhi Hawaii, a “classi- cal, lyrical” aerial dance troupe that also presents performances and conducts classes for dancers of all ages.
Volary, now in its fourth year, was formed to present “adult content,” said Simpkins, a founder of the group.
The emphasis is on “sensuality versus sexuality,” she said, building on the burlesque concept that “less is more.”
“The effort, efficiency, precision that goes into it with every one of the dancers — I’m blown away by it.”
Aerial performance requires absolute concentration, Simpkins said. “You have to be so total and present in every movement. You’re totally saturated in the moment. And it’s addictive.”
That leads to the show’s title: “If I think about what we do, and us together, the passion that we have, each one of the dancers — we are addicted to love,” Simpkins said. “And of course, we have the Robert Palmer girls in the show!”
Simpkins said no two Volary shows are ever the same, but with “Addicted to Love,” the new acts and apparatus make it a sure bet.
Watch for the unique costumes and LED lights that collaborators Kalalea Fire bring to the performance.
“This is brand-new for Honolulu,” said Eleni Cameron, director of Kalalea Fire. “This is the first of many, we hope, collaborations with Volary, creating living art.”
KALALEA FIRE was conceived on Kauai as a troupe of “highly choreographed” fire dancers, Cameron said.
The troupe has now expanded to two islands with Honolulu performers who’ve been training for the past year.
As more offers have come up for the troupe to perform indoors, where open flame can be problematic, Kalalea has sourced new LED equipment — “cutting-edge technology that hasn’t bern available until now,” Cameron said.
The performers work with hoops, staffs and swinging lights known as poi.
“I was never really impressed with the LED stuff in the past, but the light show with this equipment is phenomenal,” Cameron said.
“They create patterns as they’re moving … it’s brilliant.”
Fire, or swirling light, “always seems to trigger that wow factor in audiences,” Cameron said.
“Fire’s my first love, and I don’t think we’ll ever stop doing fire. … But the LED lights, I’ve fallen in love with them in another way.
“There’s a sense of wonder involved.”
As for Kalalea’s performance with Volary, it’s sexy and lighthearted, Cameron said.
“We are sort of the New Wave, techno-edgy (’80s) girls. … You can have a lot of fun being playful with characters.”
“It’s ’80s, it’s Madonna, it’s Michael Jackson, it’s Prince. … Get your ’80s costume on and come play!”
Costumes for Volary Aerial Burlesque dancers, pictured, were designed by Kalalea Fire director Eleni Cameron. Volary and Kalalea, pictured on opposite page, perform at The Republik this weekend.