Heard the sad news today of Joan Arline's death at the weekend. I was lucky enough to attend a class with Joan at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend. Being a trained dancer, Joan was passionate about grace, elegance and poise as a burlesque performer. Here she is showing us how to present and angle a leg to show it off to its best:
Though I only spent an hour close-up with her (and later saw her performance below) she had quite an affect on the way I think now about performing, especially the way I walk and present myself on stage. She was an incredibly feisty lady and I don't think anyone in the class would have dared cross her but she was also an incredibly giving person - at the end of the class she told us she was passionate about passing on skills to the younger generations. She offered us the chance and told us to spread the word that she was running her own personal burlesque 'boot camp'. We could go and stay at her house and work on certain steps or whole routines and benefit from her tutoring....and she'd cook!
She'd not only been a dancer all her life (including ballet) but had choreographed and taught dance for decades including I believe working with a young group of deaf students where she'd sign the movements to them off stage because of their inability to hear the music. She stayed with us way after the class had officially finished answering individual questions and giving advice, as well as poising for photos. As you can see she was very much in demand:
Anyway, I can't imagine what an affect she had on people she met with for longer than an hour, who knew her for all her life, because I can't say I'll ever forget her. I can imagine her shouting down from heaven "poise! stand up straight! be ladylike!" at all of us performing from now on.
I think I'm going to have to get the Behind the Burly Q dvd, check out how gorgeous Joan was up close (rather than my tatty iphone photos) at 25 secs and 1 min 29 secs in this trailer:
And because I don't want to infringe any photographer's copyright I haven't cut and pasted any photos of Joan, but there are some absolutely gorgeous photos here on Flickr.
You can also read about Joan's life and see some fantastic photos of her as a performer in the 50s and more recently in a tribute on the Burlesque Seattle Press here.
There's also Femme Vivre LaRouge's recap in Pin Curl of the Burlesque Legends lunch and Q&A which includes Joan and the other Legends we should cherish.
RIP Joan Arline - you truly are a Legend.