Categories
Cabaret Performing Arts Photography Variety Arts Video Women

Breaking Records and Spinning Heart-Shaped Hoops

Being in the Guinness Book of World Records twice isn’t enough for hula hooper Dunja von K. In between performances and teaching hoops three times a week, she’s in training for her third world record – being suspended upside-down hula hooping with multiple hoops.

She failed by a narrow margin in her first attempt a few months ago. “I can do 10,” she revealed, “but I needed to do 20 with a minimum of 3 rotations. I failed by half a rotation.” She is trying again before April to be in the next book. Out of the 40,000 record holders in the Guinness World Records database, only about 10% are published in the book, and even a smaller number are featured with a photograph. Dunja is in the 2019 book with a photograph and she is determined to be in the 2020 book.

She wasn’t born with a hoop on her hip. Hailing from a small town in northern Germany, she didn’t pick up a hoop until after she moved to London.  There, she got involved in theatre to improve her English, but this didn’t entirely satisfy her penchant for the weird and unusual. Through a workshop at the Roundhouse, she discovered that cabaret was more her métier. Then she saw that the Roundhouse was offering a hoop workshop by the legendary Marawa the Amazing. “I took the workshop for fitness,” she confessed, “I never thought I could do any hoop tricks.”With the encouragement of Marawa, she persisted in hoop training and her efforts resulted in her becoming one of the original members of Marawa’s Majorettes. She performed at the Olympic Games in 2012 and then at Glastonbury FestivalBestival, the Secret Garden Party, and at Kensington Palace.

As part of Marawa’s Majorettes, Dunja was one of the ten women who collectively rotated 299 hoops and set a World Record for the Most Hoops Spun by a Group. Then she decided she wanted a World Record of her own and got one for spinning 43 hoops on multiple body parts. She has since broken her own record by spinning 59 hoops.

After nine years in London, she decided to move to Berlin. “I felt like I couldn’t go any further in London. I wasn’t really growing anymore,” she stated and adds with a laugh, “I also wanted my own flat.” In Berlin, she teaches hula hoop workshops three times a week and performs at burlesque clubs and major events. “If I would’ve known how great the scene was in Berlin,” she said, “I would have moved earlier.”

Dunja von K at the Full Moon Cabaret, photo by Steve Gregson.

Her acts are different than other hoopers who create routines to show off their skills, “I come from a theatre background and a cabaret background,” she explains, “Usually, my hoop acts tell a story. It’s not just amazing tricks.”

Most of her storytelling has a sense of the macabre that fits well with Berlin. In one act, she is a bloody Jesus with barbed wire wrapped around a hoop. Another act is a frenetic hooping homage to Pulp Fiction complete with a tray of cocaine. Though she can spin 80 hoops at once and simultaneously keep hoops going on all four limbs, she continually looks for ways to expand her skills. She started training in aerial silk and now has a silk-and-hoop act where she is a spider.

But one of her favorite activities is hula hoop training. “I love teaching beginners who never thought they can hoop, because I felt like that,” she said, “It took me three months to keep the hoop up. I was really shit in the beginning.” From one beginners class in Berlin, her workshop series has now expanded to three classes per week and the addition of an intermediate hoop class.

Back in London for Full Moon Cabaret at the Vault Festival this past weekend, she strutted on stage with heart-shaped hoops in her high-energy Summer of Love act. Then she picked up four LED hoops and the audience went wild as the lights went off, leaving nothing other than the psychedelic flashing pink, yellow, and green lights of the hoops. For a grand finale, she picked up a massive stack of hoops and gleefully flung her arms up, wildly gyrating all the hoops at once. Revolutionary in more ways than one, Dunja von K is sure to set several more world records.

Here’s a video of Dunja setting her World Record.
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Categories
Cinema Film Performing Arts Story Teller The Public Theatre Under The Radar Festival Vaudevisuals Interview Video Women

Vaudevisuals interview with Janek Turkowski – Margarete

I attended the Thursday night performance of “Margarete” at the Public Theater. I was taken to a small room upstairs from the main stages in what seemed like an apartment. Small shaded lamps and circular rugs highlighted the room with a small 8mm projector and a laptop to the right of the main rug area. The seats were all living room chairs and a few small sofas. Maximum attendance was 16 people allowed.

The small movie screen with a clip showing from the 8mm films of Margarete.

I was offered tea, coffee or a glass of water by the young woman that greeted me when I arrived at the door. A very different ‘theater’ experience for sure. Janek Turkowski began the show by lowering the room’s lights with a control board and then began his performance/talk about ‘Margarete‘. This performance was part of Under The Radar Festival and as such, I realized it was unique and a charming theatrical experience.

“I rarely leave theater so much convinced that what I just saw is a touch of the unattainable, yet important and significant.”  teatrblog.pl

For ticket information go here!

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Categories
Cabaret Music Vaudevisuals Interview

Vaudevisuals interview with Jeremy Lawrence – “Lavender Songs”

Vaudevisuals Interview with Jeremy Lawrence

“Lavender Songs – A Queer Cabaret in Weimar Berlin

Songs and sketches of the period performed by Jeremy Lawrence in his own translations. Based on an evening created by Alan Lareau.
Directed by Jason Jacobs
With Ariela Bohrod on piano.
Produced by TOSOS

In Lavender Songs; A Queer Cabaret In Weimar Berlin, “Tante Fritzy,” a famous cabaret artiste, of Berlin Weimar Cabaret, takes the audience on a wild and racy ride through her gender-bender world, singing her favorite songs of the day.

The show is based on an evening created by Alan Lareau for the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. in conjunction with the exhibition Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals 1933-1945.

  • Thursday, November 10th @ 7:00 pm
  • Friday, November 11th @ 9:00 pm
  • Saturday, November 12th @ 7:00 pm
  • Sunday, November 13th @ 5:00 pm
  • Where: The Play Room Theatre – 151 W 46th Street, 8th Floor, New York, NY
    Nearest subway: A/C/E/N/R/Q/1/2/3/7 to 42nd street

“The real sophisticated thing…What at first seems sophomorically, iconoclastic-childishly perverse – becomes devastating and convincingly Kabarett.” – Backstage

“A witty, proud, and political evening.” – Q On Stage

Tickets: $20 in advance / $25 at the door

Categories
Art Book Shelf Jazz Music Photography

The Vaudevisuals Bookshelf – “Rebirth of the Cool.”

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Rebirth of the Cool –

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A visionary of the Greenwich Village nightlife scene in the 1950s and 60s, photographer Robert James Campbell vigorously documented New York’s jazz era, and its metamorphosis into the beat and folk movements. Despite Campbell’s artistic prowess–evident in his arresting images of the people who would shape the American cultural landscape for generations to come–Campbell died alone in a homeless shelter in Burlington, Vermont in 2002. His identity, and former life as an esteemed photojournalist for The Village Voice and Downbeat Magazine, would only be revealed by the unlikely discovery by a young college graduate of his ephemera and personal belongings within a trove of cardboard boxes.


Rebirth of the Cool
is the story of Robert James Campbell as reconstructed by Jessica Ferber, and born from tragedy; Campbell, once a wildly talented artist, but wrought by mental demons, financial hardship, and health failure, had to give up his passionate work at what should have been the prime years of his career, having succumbed to his deteriorating body and mind. Campbell left New York for LA and then disappeared into New England with little hope, but resolute to keep and care for his art he managed to diligently transport his negatives and images with him throughout his turbulent life, and ultimately with him into homelessness.

At the height of his photographic career Campbell captured the likes of John Coltrane, The Modern Jazz Quartet, Philly Joe Jones, Count Basie, Bud Powell, Richie Havens, Chuck Berry, and more. Shot onstage and off, the intimacy of the photos is moving and prescient. Rebirth of the Cool collects the best of Campbell’s work, shot at legendary clubs like Birdland, The Village Vanguard, and The Gaslight Café, as well as street photography, international work from his time spent in Germany, and tour photography. The era in which Campbell photographed was brief and precious, and the content he left behind represents a time capsule–a rebirth and regeneration–of a moment that was flashpoint for the culture and heritage of New York, and the nation as a whole.

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Categories
Clown Comedy Music Performing Arts Physical Theater Vaudevisuals Interview

Vaudevisuals interview with Joel Jeske – “What is funny”?

A few years ago I posed the question "WHAT IS FUNNY" to Joel Jeske. A very funny man.
He has a great answer to the question and I wanted to share it with everyone who didn’t see the video when it was originally posted 3 years ago.

Thanks Joel!

For more on Joel Jeske go here.