Some creative partnerships come naturally. That was the case for Mehama Kaupp and Leah Rutz, the founders of Bend Burlesque Co. They met on a boat and were immediately drawn together by a shared artistic passion in the form of burlesque. Five years later, they are still at it, with a whole troupe of talented people and now a regularly monthly performance at Silver Moon Brewery during First Fridays.
"Creatively collaborating with people has allowed us to create a family of performers. Burlesque is vulnerable and it takes a lot of courage to do your thing. It's not easy, so it's been great to create a family of performers. It builds confidence and gratitude for other people," says Rutz. As a result of teaching burlesque classes, Kaupp and Lutz have helped to grow interest in burlesque in Bend. They're even opening up the stage this Friday to allow 10 new performers to experience what it means to perform burlesque and grow their skills.
"When we teach, we discuss how we have become more fully ourselves through the practice of burlesque. Your body is your canvas. My art form is my body. For us, burlesque is not about turning people on, but rather explaining what is going on in your life and resonating in your being," Kaupp adds. The pair sees this Friday as an open audition, to encourage more people to understand the role of burlesque, find some new performers to get on stage and support a growing community. There will even be prizes.
While Bend Burlesque Co. will be holding regular performances on First Fridays, the troupe is also working on a new show coming at the end of March, called "Ya Dig?" It's a collaboration with Company Grand, the band that helped bring Kaupp and Rutz together five years ago. The show, with Company Grand as live musical accompaniment, consists of both live music and the band, bringing the troupe up to 20 members—a true feat for any performance group.
While you can catch Bend Burlesque Co. every First Friday at Silver Moon, it's the new show the founders say brings new excitement. New performers and guests allow the troupe to continue to grow, inspire and showcase the true meaning of burlesque—a multi-faceted medium that encourages loving yourself and celebrating every body.
March is National Women's History Month! In honor of it, I'm writing a piece on a woman/women artists of Bend each week, featuring artists who work in a variety of mediums.
Bend Burlesque presents "Open Auditions"
Fri., March 2, 8 pm
Silver Moon Brewing
24 NW Greenwood Ave., Bend
Bend Burlesque's "Ya Dig?- All '70s Review"
March 23 at 2nd Street Theatre, Bend
April 6 at Silver Moon Brewing,Bend
April 20 at The Belfry, Sisters