Volar y Aerial Bur­lesque teams up with Kalalea Fire for ‘80-in­spired en­sem­ble show, ‘Ad­dicted to Love’

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - TGIF - By El­iz­a­beth Kieszkowski ekieszkowski@starad­ver­tiser.com

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.

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