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The Force is with These Burlesque Dancers

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Written by: Communicator StaffDecember 11, 2015

Written by Zachary D. Elick

The Fort Wayne Bombshells will pay homage to “nerd” culture at Calhoun Street Soups, Salads, and Spirits with their show, “Nerdlesque II: The Empire Strikes Back,” on Dec. 11.

Seven dancers from the burlesque troupe will dress up as various characters from “nerdy” pop culture and incorporating them into their risque and humorous skits.

In celebration of Disney’s new “Star Wars” film “The Force Awakens,” the second half of the two-act show will be dedicated to portraying “Star Wars” characters.

This decision seemed obvious to Vivien de Light, headmistress for the Fort Wayne Bombshells. Not only is she a huge “Star Wars” fan, but the show is being held just one week before the release of the new sequel.

As the Bombshells have been doing a Christmas-themed show every December for the past few years, there wasn’t much enthusiasm for doing yet another, de Light added.

“Merry Christmas! We got a ‘Star Wars’ movie!” she said, describing how the timing of “The Force Awakens” felt like the perfect Christmas gift.

De Light, who first joined the Bombshells in 2011, described their act as a “hybrid” of traditional and contemporary burlesque. They still feature female striptease mixed with comedy and other provocative antics, yet, with more modern music and modern sensibilities.

“Burlesque started off as parody, so we just keep the tradition,” fellow Bombshell Nikki Nightlight said. “And, why not see pretty girls in lingerie being funny?”

“Nerdlesque” is a popular trend in the world of burlesque dancing right now, de Light said. There are burlesque troupes throughout the country that she said do shows dedicated to niche pop culture that is typically considered “nerdy,” such as “Game of Thrones,” “Star Trek” and Disney movies.

“We decided to hop on board,” she said.

The Bombshells’ first attempt at “Nerdlesque” was held at CS3 last July. It was the troupe’s biggest show to date, according to de Light.

“Everybody enjoyed doing it,” de Light said. “We had too many ideas, so we had to cut things down. This is a chance for us to go back to things and do more — explore ‘Nerdlesque’ more.”

De Light was adamant that her and the troupe were not looking down on the idea of being a “nerd,” though she acknowledged that the word does have a negative connotation. She recalled having an affection for “Star Trek” in middle school but feeling afraid that her friends would make fun of her if they knew. These days, de Light says she feels very open about her “fandom” and notices this in others as well.

“There’s a lot of people who are into Marvel and ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Star Trek.’ They are taking ownership of what they love,” de Light said. “I really like that. I like people embracing who they are.”

The concept of embracing who you are is important to the ethos of the Bombshells, according to de Light and Nightlight.

De Light described the “drive to be creative” as the most important aspect she looks for when auditioning potential dancers, not any physical standards of beauty or body-type.
“You should not be ashamed of the way you are,” Nightlight added. “Every woman can feel beautiful in burlesque.”

The creative process the Bombshells undergo to prepare for each show is a mixture of individual work and collaboration between the members, de Light and Nightlight agreed. Everyone pitches in ideas and helps each other out, they said.

“I’ve always felt it was a great way to put the thoughts in my head and express them,” Nightlight said. “It helps with any stresses that I may have in day-to-day life.”

Nightlight said she particularly loves getting a reaction from the audience, even if it may not be an entirely positive one. For instance, during the Bombshells’ 2014 Halloween show she pulled a man around the stage from hooks that had been stuck into his back by a professional body piercer. Some in the crowd during that performance were unnerved, she said, though that did not bother her much.

“I just like doing things that I think are entertaining,” Nightlife said. “I love going on stage and making people have some form of emotion — sometimes it’s sad, sometimes happy, sometimes disgusted.”

Fellow Bombshell Tabitha Caine agreed with Nightlife’s devil-may-care attitude toward audience reactions.

“The worst thing would be for someone to say that one of my skits is boring,” she said.

De light will play Khaleesi from HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and R2-D2. Nightlight will be play the anime herione Sailor Moon and Luke Skywalker. Caine will be play the character Willow from the television series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and Darth Vader.