Anja Keister, Enforced ArchAnja Keister, Enforced ArchAnja Keister, Enforced Arch I can only imagine what playing Scrabble with this quirky  'Mover' must be like. Anja Keister's choices teem with hilarity and keeps you entertained on all levels. Her innate creativity developed two alternatives to the cruel usage of feathers for traditional burlesque acts.

The group known as D20 Burlesque had a show entitled "Boards and Broads" where each performer took the stage and cleverly constructed or performed their unique rendition of popular games. One lady even built the entire game of Mouse Trap while on stage which left me on the edge of my seat! Anja Keister, a compassionate 'Mover,' was not only the producer of this popular evening at The Parkside Lounge but also performed two acts of her own. Her first performance featured a Scrabble Chip Fan that she constructed herself and for her second performance  she made a beautiful wheat headdress which was part of a game called The Settlers of Catan.  Then there was her faux lambs head heals. Amazing!

Rather than feel defeated by what struggles may come with finding an alternative to feathers, Anja took this opportunity to be creative and in turn expanded our minds and enlightened our evenings!

For more on Anja Keister visit her 'Movers' page!

Foh Real? Faux Feathers!

Bettina May & James Koroni Where in the world is Bettina May? Well she's in New York City. Certainly wouldn't be the same without her. Her innovative performances are more than just fanfare. Every bit of her costuming, performance and smile are genuinely committed to ending cruelty. She showed up to teatime today in a FAKE full length fur coat with matching hat. When I asked her where she acquired her matching set, she said, "I sew, made it myself." Well that's impressive! Little did I know she envisions and creates all of her own costumes. Her resistance to the mainstream costuming industry is that traditional Burlesque dancers use feathers, leather, and fur in all their performances with little thought of who they took it from. You don't need these items to entertain, be creative, innovative and inspire others to not feed into unfortunate tradition. We must not get involved with indulgent lifestyles that breed thoughtless performance rather evolve along with the environment and return the respect. Very refreshing to meet such a unique 'Mover' in our industry!

Check out her home made "Feather" Headdress in a performance entitled,

'Don't Touch My Tomatoes!'

Live PluckingWhile one end of a feather is soft to the touch, tickle worthy and awe inspiring there is another end of this quill that isn't quite as lovely. Live plucking is of commonplace among feather producing farms. If you thought getting hair waxed off was painful, imagine living a lifestyle, against your will, where being "waxed" regularly for anothers kicks and giggles was all you understood.

Alternative choices are available!

Coquette Faux Furriers

Bettina May's Links

For more on Miss Bettina May check out her website, click on the link below!

Bettina May

Hotter than Hell

Sarah Chergui is steamy, romantic, complex and enchanting. Salsa Dancing can be sultry or playful and Sarah exudes both of these attributes. She brings a heat that is irresistible to watch. Her partner Felipe Polanco is the most sought after Salsa dancer in the world and together they have danced for audiences worldwide.

Sarah recently became vegetarian and was asked to teach a few steps at Paris Vegan Day’s Latin night. She was thrilled to be a part of the festivities. The rhythm was addictive and kept me moving for hours without fatigue. I was able to learn a few valuable steps while working up a sweat. Within minutes the entire room found themselves moving as one entity.

James Koroni, Sarah Chergui

When partnering it is imperative that you avoid stepping on your comrades feet. The irony is that dance shoes are soled with suede leather! Leather isn't made of feet but skin rather and certainly isn't something I want to step on. If stepping on someones toes is the #1 misdeed one can make then let’s do our research and solve this obnoxious offense.

Here we have a beautiful alternative provided by Ethical Wear, an online store committed to showcasing cruelty free alternatives to traditional styles of foot wear.

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Stands Not Within the Prospect of Belief

Macbeth Footwear is know for having an isolated page on their website for compassionate soles. This hardcore shoe company makes durable, cruelty free and handsome footwear for musicians, artists, dancers and hardcore kids alike. I frequent MooShoes in the East Village of NYC where they have a charming selection from this socially conscious shoe company. Check out a few of their Fall 2010 season.

Dance in Someone Else's Shoes

Natalie Portman Black Swan

Natalie Portman, the actress playing in an upcoming film called Black Swan, lives a compassionate lifestyle. She has been vegetarian since childhood and recently took the necessary steps to become a vegan. When she took on the role of Nina Sayers in Black Swan she must have come across the same challenges we face as dancers every day such as, "What am I trying to communicate? Not only with the movement but by the tools used to express the movement?" When looking for ballet slippers, she did her research and found Cynthia King Vegan Ballet Slippers. These shoes remain cruelty-free and cause less environmental harm by using man-made synthetic materials. The cost is only $24.95 a pair! VOGUE magazine recently requested Cynthia King Vegan Ballet Slippers for Natalie Portman to wear in their January cover shoot!

Natalie Portman Black Swan

You might be asking yourself why there is a need for Vegan Ballet Slippers.

The truth is that we are stepping into someone else's skin every time we slip on our ballet shoes. Beneath our slippers we have leather padding that provides friction and gives us the control needed to move with grace. Sounds splendid when only seen from this perspective but who's skin or shoes are we wearing? What other perspectives are involved?

Veal Calves

Young male calves are used for leather production. The dairy industry has no need for them so they have found a way to make a profit off of these "useless offspring." They're sold to veal farms where they are removed from their mothers within 24-48 hours after birth, fed an anemic diet, and kept in a cage so small that they cannot turn around or lie down comfortably, preventing them from developing muscle tissue. They live their lives standing in their own excrement and are slaughtered at approximately 4 months of age.  All of this is done so that the calves taste tender. Then the skin is separated and shipped out to a Tannery. Preserving the skin involves harsh chemicals such as mineral salts, formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives, and various oils, dyes, and finishes, some of which are cyanide-based.  These chemicals are tough on the environment and many of these facilities are located on rooftops causing water pollution and bad odours for families living nearby. All of this in the name of "leather." This word certainly sounds better next to clothing titles such as ballet slippers or jackets or whips. Unfortunately that only exists after the damage has already been done.

Veal Calves

Leather TanneryWhen we dance in these ballet slippers we support this type of cruelty and it doesn't stop with calves, other animals are used in leather production; horses, sheep, lambs, goats, pigs, zebras, bison, water buffaloes, boars, kangaroos, elephants, eels, sharks, dolphins, seals, walruses, frogs, turtles, crocodiles, lizards, snakes. Now this can certainly be overwhelming to hear initially but there are alternatives to leather soled ballet slippers

You can get yourself a pair of these cruelty free vegan ballet slippers at the following web address: http://cynthiakingdance.com/vegan-ballet-slippers/

Cynthia King Ballet Slippers

Other cruelty free dance shoe alternatives are being researched and will be featured on future posts!