Local Beats: All dolled up
Burlesque group shimmies and shakes to make the Valley even hotter
by Jessica White
It's not just a series of performing spank lines and shimmies while wearing fishnets, bootie shorts, corset tops and heels for the Ragdolls. This burlesque-style dance group, which includes some ASU students, consists of well-trained dancers, some who have been dancing since they were 3 or 4.
Creator of the Ragdolls, 23-year-old Lauryn Cody, got the idea because she used to be a Pussycat Doll. The Pussycat Dolls, dancers who are part of a novelty show, have revived the burlesque movement in Los Angeles. Created and choreographed by Robin Antin, and led by Pussycat regular Carmen Electra, the Pussycat Dolls have recruited headliners such as Christina Aguilera and Gwen Stefani to sing in the show. The Pussycat Dolls even made their way onto the big screen in the summer blockbuster Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. In the movie, Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu, and Drew Barrymore act as honorary dolls.
John Kenrick, author of A History of The Musical Burlesque: A Misunderstood Genre says, "Most people think that "burlesque" means female strippers walking a runway to a bump-and-grind beat, but that only fits the form in its declining years ... its influence reaches through the development of popular entertainment into the present."
Cody says their dancing is sexy but not in a stripper-like way. "It is burlesque dancing in a sense that we're all girls, and our styles are all feminine and our clothes are feminine. I know burlesque as a tease to men," she says. Cody adds the Ragdolls always keep the sexy aspect of the performance with flirtatious dancing.
Right now, the Ragdolls are performing for free. "Our goal right now is getting our name out there and making some money. We're performing anywhere and everywhere," Cody says. "Our major goal would be to work at a casino with consecutive numbers and a big stage show. I would love to have a weekly show," Cody adds.
Ragdolls performer Maggie Carvalho says, "We just want sexy entertainment but also to show off our skill and technique. The go-go dancers don't really have the entertainment and skill. They are just there for the appearance aspect." She says the Ragdolls are bringing a different type of company to the Valley.
"We wanted to take a different approach and have an entertainment company that has sex appeal, and that's what this city is all about anyway," Carvalho says.
The Ragdolls also feature ASU students. Captain of the ASU dance team, senior Julie Wolters, is a member of the Ragdolls. Wolters has been dancing since she was a little girl and performs all types of dancing from ballet to hip-hop to tap dancing.
"Once you get to be the age we are, there's not really a lot of dance opportunities, so anything you can join is great for a dancer," Wolters says.
The Ragdolls perform to the venue's taste. They have performed to songs such as Fever (Madonna), Toxic (Britney Spears) and others, depending on what the clubs chose.
Ragdolls dancer Amy Toliver says she joined the group because she thought it was a great idea for girls who are older. "There's just not a lot of opportunity for dancers in Arizona. We're trying to keep some of those good dancers here in Arizona instead of moving to Los Angeles. We want to provide an opportunity and a reason for them to stay," Toliver says.
Most in the group agree their burlesque dancing was not slutty but just dancing that reflects a very girly, sexy theme in sexy costumes.
Cody says, "I think people would enjoy it if they knew about it ... We're not a closed group."
The Ragdolls hold an open dance class once a month at Jeanne's School of Dance. Girls who love to dance are encouraged to attend. The next class will be held April 11.
If you are interested in joining the Ragdolls, contact Lauren Cody at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So I guess it is a dance group like the Pussycat Dolls with Carmen Electra. There was also a picture of amy and 3 other girls on the site but they were dressed in normal clothes.