Lily Verlaine and Jasper McCann Usher in New Era of Burlesque
A new dance language has emerged in the Pacific Northwest: a theatrical blend of ballet, body, and communication with rich scripts and character development. For Lily Verlaine and Jasper McCann, it is the new era of burlesque, and no one highlights it in quite the same fashion as these two burlesque superstars.
“I want to import the traditions of classical dance into this new-world phenomenon of burlesque,” said Verlaine. “As in ballet, our dancers take on various roles and personalities during a show. We have the pleasure of working with a myriad of talented performers, and it is my job to bring the best out of each dancer and to honor their skills. I am creating work for the artists to interpret.”
Their production company, Verlaine and McCann Present, has been creating these large-scale, theatrical burlesque shows from the ground up for almost ten years. Their productions are evening-length theatre experiences, with first-class costumes, original scripts, thoughtful comedic timing, thematic songs, and beautiful choreography. Verlaine, a trained ballet dancer, choreographs every production and her classical background is an important thread throughout every show.
Verlaine and McCann Present’s crown jewel is their annual Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker, now in its ninth installment. Their work on Land of the Sweets was recognized by the Burlesque Hall of Fame when they were honored with an award for “Best Small Group” performance in June 2014 at the annual Las Vegas-held ceremony. Since its inception in 2006, the show has grown from eight cast members to a theatrical company of 24 cast, crew, and support staff. It has seen an 800% increase in ticket sales, and Verlaine, McCann, and their “corps du burlesque” are performing 33 shows in the month of December, compared to their initial four.
“Our original intent in creating this show was to give people a new, theatrical experience during the holidays,” said co-producer Jasper McCann. “Land of the Sweets is a great example of our new dance language in burlesque; a variety of immensely talented characters working as an ensemble to create a detailed, entertaining story.”
Verlaine and McCann don’t see this new era of burlesque going away any time soon. On the contrary, they want to bring this dance language to an even broader audience, with their eyes set on performing off Broadway or in Las Vegas in the future.
Throughout the year, Seattleites and visitors alike can experience all three Verlaine & McCann Present productions, including Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker during the holiday season, running December 11–27, 2014 in Seattle; Through The Looking Glass: The Burlesque Alice in Wonderland in the Spring; and their newest concoction, Burlesco DiVino: Wine in Rome in the fall.