Following sell out shows at the Adelaide Fringe Festival and a recent sold out show at the Sydney Opera House, Adelaide-based burlesque show Polecats is heading back home, ready to take “the art of pole dancing out of the strip clubs and into the theatre.”
Director and creator Cathy Adamek began Polecats as a way to develop her love for pole dancing as an artistic and theatrical form of expression.
“I wanted to cross over between pop art and high art to create a work that would be interesting and accessible to non-traditional theatre audiences. It plays with ideas of popular female iconography through musical, visual and choreographic reference.”
Polecats reconceptualises the notion of traditional pole dancing by combining it with elements of contemporary and classical dance, burlesque and physical theatre.
“From an aesthetic perspective I wanted to challenge and dispel perceptions of pole dancing by placing it into a different performance environment, and display the high level of technique and physical expertise needed to perform it,” says Cathy.
Creating a fresh and unique dance experience, the latest Polecats’ tour features 4 new cast members, costumes by award-winning Mariot Kerr, light design by Nic Mollison and sounds spun by local dance maestro Cam Bianchetti, aka DJ HMC.
Mixing electronic dance textures with the high energy and athletic burlesque dance routines brings an ultimately modern twist to a cabaret classic. Cathy admits that HMC was an obvious choice when she chose to use house and electronic music as part of the current tour.
“He [DJ HMC] really pioneered the dance and techno movement here in Adelaide, so for me he was the ultimate go-to person to ask to do this music piece; I really wanted to get that underground club feel,” she says.
“I wanted the music to epitomize feminine energy. The nightclubs I’m referring back to were really the kind of places where women and gay men could just be free to express themselves in what they wore and how they danced. The music was such a big part of that. House music evolved from disco, and a lot of that freedom of expression was owed to the music. It was also different back then, you could experiment with aspects of your sexuality too without it being sleazy or offensive, which for women was so important.”
“As a ballet dancer, I would go out to these nightclubs and be completely in awe at the sounds I was hearing. I’d freestyle to the beats and improvise my own moves. There was a lot of breakbeats and hip-hop music in the clubs which has played a big part in my choreography, along with everything else that’s kind of found its way into the mix!” Cathy adds.
Trading his usual surroundings of clubs and DJ decks for poles and burlesque, HMC says the lack of dance floor was a big change, but working with Cathy and Polecats was “challenging yet rewarding.”
“This isn’t your typical burlesque show,” says Cam. “There’s quite a bit of acrobatics in the show so it works well with dance music. The two really compliment each other and the result is exciting.”
Despite nursing more than a few bruises after their opening night (“The dancers are getting more and more, I think it's becoming quite obvious to the audience!”), Cathy hopes that their bout of first-night nerves will make for an even better string of shows in Adelaide.
“We’ve managed to make things a lot tighter and oversee any technical difficulties, so the shows you’ll be getting in Adelaide should be perfect!” Cathy says.
Polecats’ Adelaide tour opens tonight at 8pm at the Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, with shows through to December 1. December 1 will also feature a special matinee performance at 2pm. Tickets available via www.adelaidefestivalcentre.com.au