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Read producer Katia’s rundown on some behind the scenes Heartstoppers processes and secrets, as well as her personal account of all the performances at our fifth Heartstoppers showcase on Sunday 31stMarch. 

Words by Katia Schwartz | Photography by Mia Maraschino

Emcee Porcelain Alice talks on the microphone while Leah, the Auslan Interpreter translates what she is saying.

Emcee Porcelain Alice talks on the microphone while Leah, the Auslan Interpreter translates what she is saying.

Sunday night was our fifth Heartstoppers event at the Vanguard Theatre. Producing events is something that I am extremely passionate about. Creating safe and supportive spaces for performers to explore their creativity is one of the most fulfilling parts of my work. There is a lot of effort involved with creating an act (especially for the first time!) and also a lot of emotion, and so much of the performer’s soul that goes into it. To be able to witness the final product of that emotion definitely takes my breath away. 

 We had over 70 applications for this Heartstoppers, and with only 20 spaces on the evening – choosing successful applicants can be a very difficult (and heartbreaking) task. We accept applicants of all experience levels and across a number of dance and apparatus genres. Performers can select during their application process whether they would like a paid slot (for professionals) or a non-paid slot (for beginner performers and stage virgins). We look through all of the applications individually first, and we place all of the applicants into categories of “No”, “Yes” or “Maybe”. There are usually only a few definite “No” and “Yes” applicants, while the majority of the applicants are in the “Maybe” column. 

In terms of the evening’s structure, we divide the number of performance slots into a number of different categories so that we can achieve balance:
Burlesque
Lyra
Pole 
Sling 
Miscellaneous (this would be troupe performances, Hula Hoops, Illusion, Singing etc.)

Once we have removed the definite “No” applicants and slotted the “Yes” performers into their categories – we then place the “Maybe” performers within the different categories. Slowly we revisit all of the “Maybe” applicants and remove them from the categories to achieve our final numbers. It is a variety showcase, which means that we can’t have an overhaul of one apparatus or even style of show. 

 The successful performers are then required to send us an extensive list of (pretty much) everything about their show. From their choice of music, costuming, act concept, performer bio and lighting/stage specs – the acts are screened so that we can ensure no “offensive” acts slip through the cracks. Heartstoppers is a production that's inclusive of the LGBTQI+ community, people of colour and other minority groups. We are very strict with ensuring that performances do not exclude individuals, which is why we place a lot of restrictions on performers and require all of the information in advance. 

Designing the running order of the acts on the evening is a job that I do myself for all of the shows I produce. Not only do I think about how the evening will run in terms of the type of act (and also apparatus) variety, I need to think about performer experience level (eg. I don’t want all of the elite or beginner performers one after the other) – I also have to think about the rigging, and how quickly my team can construct the pole and then remove it. There is so much thought that goes into ensuring the night runs perfectly, and planning is definitely not the most interesting aspect of show production (I much prefer watching the final product!).

This particular Heartstoppers sold out online two weeks out from the event, and we even sold out with standing tickets at the door - which is an absolute first! The event has certainly grown since our first one over one year ago. Heartstoppers was the first “outside of Sky Sirens” event that I produced, so it really holds a very special place in my heart. It’s also special to me, because it’s a stage that a lot of my students (and those of other studios) perform on for the first time. Watching all of the performer’s creativity and personal style embody their show makes me feel all of the feels.

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Porcelain Alice
Black Mambo | Glass Animals

The night kicked off with the beautiful Porcelain Alice, who fluttered dusty pink feathers and sparkled in handmade champagne undergarments. Starting the show with Porcelain Alice can never be a bad thing as the audience were intoxicated by her slinky movement across the stage. 

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Gaybie
Rainbow| SIA 

After Alice’s introduction, Gaybie performed on the Lyra, with an uplifting act dedicated to a friend of this that passed away. The performance was based off “My Little Pony” and featured lots of rainbows and LGBT+ representation. His spins, strength and stage presence were the highlight of his performance. 

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Kittyhawk
Control | Halsey

Kittyhawk, our beautiful Instructor performed Aerial Sling after Gaybie’s act. She wore a stunning gold leotard and hairpiece, and flowed through the Sling seamlessly. I love to watch Kitty perform because her strength, lines and fluidity are always perfection. 

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Genie & The Fembots
“These boots are made for walkin” Nancy Sinatra
& “I touch myself” Divinyls

Genie and her Fembots (Bunni & Sarah) were up next. Their show was upbeat and had a retro-revival vibe. Genie, dancing on the pole in the middle of her synchronised blonde bombshells in soft Baby Pink hues was an aesthetic that I personally can’t get enough of. Watching Genie dance is always a treat, because her flow and timing make me a very happy Aerialist. 

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Nicoletta Noir
Cherry Lips | Garbage

Baby Pink haired, tattooed beauty Nicoletta Noir made my heart melt. Dancing to Garbage’s “Cherry Lips”, Nicoletta created intricate floor transitions and dynamic pole combinations. I am a sucker for mesmerising floorwork and smooth, slinky vibes. 

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Maddie Belle
Lost Without You | Freya Ridings

Maddie Belle’s Sling performance made literally everyone in the venue cry. Her show was about losing her pet, and how difficult it is to move on from that heartbreak. I love watching Maddie dance because she makes you feel something with her movements. She’s emotional, raw and took my breath away.

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That Circus Freak
Get out alive | Three days grace

I sat amongst my Deaf friends during the evening, and throughout the entirety of Miranda’s show, I was tapped, waved at, literally pushed back and forth out of my chair (cough* Sam and Gareth *cough) by their level of excitement. The sign for “jaw-dropping”, like “wow, I’m stunned!” is literally using your hand to mimic your jaw dropping downwards. They were signing their jaws dropping to past their crotches. They were talking about it during the show, straight after the show, the whole interval, the entire second interval… and then after the show. Miranda, “That Circus Freak” is an Instagram sensation. At only 18 years old, she can flip herself in, around and above the Lyra like nobody I’ve seen before. Her show was dynamic, seamless and it literally stopped my heart on multiple occasions (I think I had a heart palpitation on several of the drops).

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Sofia & Rose
Blow | Beyonce

Our Doubles Pole instructors, Sofia and Rose created a modern-pinup “diner girl” themed show, dressed in pink and red (my favourite colour combination). I loved this show because it went by a traditional showgirl method: themed costume to Strip, ‘talent’ section (ie. Pole work) and something wet and messy to finish. Think squirty cream and one hot red head on top of another hot red head. 

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Scarlett Moon
Roads | Portishead

I was really looking forward to watching Scarlett Moon’s show, because it was her very first time performing Lyra on stage. I loved witnessing her creativity come to life, and seeing how she had combined what she had learnt in her classes at Sky Sirens with her own personal style. Wearing a three-piece lingerie set, her act was slow and sensual with contemporary undertones and beautiful shapes. 

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Amy
We were in love | Ta Ku

Amy’s Pole performance was absolutely incredible. She was wearing a sparkly gold outfit, which blended in with her beautiful golden skin. Her movement was so fluid, smooth and captivating. Her flexibility and strength were next level, and it made her shapes perfect and clean.

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Rosa
Lovely | Billie Eilish (with Khalid)

Rosa performed a breathtaking Lyra show. Her movements were purposeful and controlled, and she floated through the hoop sensually. Her costume was a champagne coloured leotard that she had sparkled herself. It caught the light in such a magical way, and worked so beautifully with her performance. 

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Mel
Crazy in Love (50 Shades of Grey Remix) | Beyonce

Watching Mel perform on the Lyra is honestly a privilege. Not only does she have incredible strength and contortion-level flexibility, her transitions are seamless and all of her combinations flow together with perfect sense. She manages to combine sexy and circus together in a way that inspires me so much. 

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Mac Galleon
Pony | Genuine

I asked Mac Galleon to perform, because I thought it was about time that Heartstoppers gave our audience a taste of Boylesque. I desperately wanted him to perform his “Doughnut” show (I’m sure he has a better name for it… but he knew what I meant!) as the last time I saw him perform this act was at a Hen’s party that I booked him for. I remembered thinking “I need to get this on a Heartstoppers’ stage!”. Porcelain Alice was interrupted during her introduction of Mac with a radio voiceover between “Officer Galleon” and another Law enforcement unit. There were red and blue lights flashing, and Officer Galleon strutted through the crowd and snatched the “narcotics” that Porcelain Alice had in her possession (ie. a Doughnut). Officer Galleon proceeded to eat the said narcotics, despite the radio warnings – which then caused him to strip off his uniform and get messy with a box of Crispy Cremes. 

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Writhe
You Should See me in a Crown | Billie Eilish

When my friend Deb Roach expressed interest in performing with her troupe “Writhe” at Heartstoppers, I was very excited. I was pretty much like, yes – you’re in – please submit an entry… like today. The three dancers performed an exotic floorwork number, perfectly in sync. Their black, strappy costumes and pleaser heels worked so beautifully together and this type of act was a Heartstoppers’ first. 

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The Bolly Bombshells
Work | Kelly Rowland

The Bolly Bombshells starred Bolly Golightly, Eva Devore and Wednesday Baddams. This act was so special, and meant so much on too many levels for me to articulate in one small paragraph (keep your eyes peeled for a Blog entry about it in the near future). The performance incorporated a colourful fusion of Bollywood dance and Aerial Hoop. Choreographed by Bolly Golightly, our Indian-Australian Bolly Burlesque superstar, the act portrayed how we can culturally appreciate without appropriating. 

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Lottie Lamont
I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl - Lisa Simone

Burlesque debutant and Sky Sirens student Lottie Lamont performed her “Candy” act for the first time on stage! I was excited for Lottie’s performance, because she had been working so incredibly hard for weeks. Her costume, stage presence and performance were polished and we were so incredibly proud!

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Phoebe Linguini
“Showstopper” | Brandon & Leah

Phoebe Linguini manages to incorporate breathtaking hula-hoop tricks with flow and high energy. Her show was uplifting and wow’ed the audience with every movement and shape she created. I have never seen someone work hula-hoops in the same way that Phoebe does. It’s fun, rhythmic and captivating. 

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Allegra Ivory
King Princess | 1950

Aerial Sling seductress Allegra Ivory looked like pinup perfection. Her red hair, pinup makeup, tattoos and black bullet bra set the scene for King Princess’ LGBTQIA+ anthem “1950”. As a queer artist, Allegra’s act was paying homage to the time where queer love could only exist entirely censored. Revealing her sparkly rainbow flag pasties under her entirely black costume at the end of her show reinforced this message.

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The Diamond Dolls
Sparkling Diamonds | “Moulin Rouge” soundtrack

Six Burlesque babes on a Heartstoppers’ tiny stage was not an easy feat. The Diamond Dolls from the Pole Palace utilised the stage and runway with creativity and professionalism. Their act was an exciting use of shapes created with lot’s of bodies, changing their placement consistently. It combined Burlesque and Cabaret elements and their concept was that, “every body has a burlesque body!”.

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Katia Schwartz
Electric | Khalid & Alina Baraz

I closed the show after the Diamond Dolls performed. I was feeling really sick that day, and was throwing up all afternoon after my rehearsal. I didn’t feel super confident performing the show that I had choreographed with Dahlia – so I decided to remove my dress from the show (instead I performed in pasties, underwear and heels) and eliminated a few tricks, making it a little easier for me. Leah, my Auslan interpreter signed the lyrics of the song for me – so that I didn’t lose my place. I feel like having the song Interpreted adds something special to my act. I loved twisting through the hoop and spinning sensually – combining erotic undertones with Aerial is my unique style and I think overall I was happy with my show.

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Even though the show is over, there are still a lot of tasks to complete in the aftermath. There’s the packing away, editing of photos and videos and then planning the next event! Our next showcase is Glory Box, which will be held at the Factory Theatre on the 26thMay 2019. Applications are open to perform at Glory Box now! Our next Heartstoppers event will be on the 4thAugust.