New Orleanians are a majority people of color, yet they are represented in numbers nowhere near equal in the New Orleans burlesque scene, both as performers and as audience members. Blu Reine intends to change that. A staple of the New Orleans burlesque scene for several years, Blu decided to shift gear from burlesque performer to producer and bring New Orleans one of the few burlesque and cabaret shows in the country featuring exclusively people of color. I spoke with Blu about her show, The Roux, the need for more color in burlesque, and how burlesque is like traditional New Orleans cooking.
Tell me about yourself.
I’m a native New Orleanian who began her burlesque career with the New Orleans School of Burlesque in 2011. Since then, I have been fortunate to perform locally and nationally. I have performed on most of the stages in the New Orleans area, including The Irvin Mayfield Jazz Playhouse, The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, The Joy Theatre, The AllWays Lounge and Theatre, The Shadowbox Theatre, and The Blue Book Cabaret Hall. My passion for dance and performance led me to burlesque and I fully intend to continue to take the art form by storm.
What is The Roux?
I have recently taken on the role of producer to create the only burlesque show in New Orleans that features a full cast of burlesque and variety performers of color. The New Orleans burlesque scene is vibrant; however, it is not always a true reflection of the diversity that New Orleans as a city has to offer. In my show I’m seeking to highlight and create a space in the New Orleans burlesque community for the performer of color.
Why did you decide to call it The Roux?
There aren’t many traditional New Orleans dishes you can make without a roux. So, The Roux is a fitting name for something the New Orleans burlesque community can’t do without.
How did you choose the performers for The Roux?
I didn’t choose the performers. The performers chose me. Something about their character, spirit or work I have seen them do called out to me. Every artist I asked about being a part of the show immediately agreed with no hesitation—that speaks volumes about the spirit of this show. My favorite thing about the performers is that they all have a different style. Some are classic and some are more contemporary.
What kind of music will be performed for the dancers?
Music genres include blues, jazz, rock’n’roll, hip-hop, classical, and anything in between. The music is as diverse as the cast and will be performed by a live band, fronted by vocalist Michaela Harrison.
Why do you think it is important for there to be a burlesque show that is all performers of color?
I’m not necessarily advocating for people of color to run out and become burlesque performers but I do feel that if by chance they want to join in on the beautiful art form that is burlesque, they should definitely be able to. They should be able to readily find and identify people who look like them and can possibly relate to the message of their art. They should be able to feel just as comfortable in the burlesque world as anyone else.
The Roux: A Spicy Brown Burlesque Show is on Friday, September 12th at 8 pm at Cafe Istanbul, 2372 St. Claude Ave., inside the Healing Center. Tickets are $10 in advance, $20 at the door. More info at othersideoftherainbows.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/meet-the-roux