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Culture

January 28 2014

Burlesque Artistry in Gastown: Q&A with Nicky Ninedoors of Pandora & The Locksmiths

Photo credit: Ninedoors Photography


Could you tell us more about your background in performance arts?

I started performance arts as a young girl in dance classes, speech arts, and music lessons. I continued dabbling in theatre while heavily pursuing classical piano and voice through my late teens.


What led you to become a vocalist and burlesque artist?

Oh, that’s such a path full of many signs along the way! Even as a five year old piano student, I always wore underwear that matched my shoes!


How do you define burlesque artistry?

I think one of the things I enjoy about burlesque so much is that it’s not easily definable. It has saucy elements and strip tease (though it doesn’t have to!) and whatever the individual performer wants to create over top of that. There is such a wide variety of styles – it’s really an ever-shifting folk art.


Is there a common misconception that people have with burlesque artistry?

Any time sensuality and sexuality is put on display, there will be misconceptions. The way society stigmatizes female sexuality consistently is always a challenge. There’s a bit of the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” effect when it comes to the whole “empowering/degrading” debate that can come about. The bottom line is that anytime someone gets up on stage and is proud of themselves in all their glory, it’s a positive thing. There may be a few people who don’t like it, but not all art is for everyone, and that’s fine.

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Photo credit: Ninedoors Photography


Could you tell us about how you got involved with Pandora & The Locksmiths?

It was a natural evolution of performers gravitating together and liking it. I am a co-creator with fellow Pandora members Miss Fitt, Delilah Dare, Voracious V, and Carole Brunette, as well Locksmith members John Bews and Sean Bayntun. Over the past three and a half years we have grown from eight official members to seventeen.


What can people expect from a Pandora & The Locksmiths performance?

A combination of a sonic and visual spectacle. We re-interpret a large range of music, so a production is known to have Debussey, Hendrix, and Bjork all in one show, arranged to our specific instrumentation. The performers are all pretty visually indulgent, and we tend to work with talented designers. We love our art form and the creative license it allows us.


We noticed Pandora & The Locksmiths has performed in many popular venues in Vancouver. What do you like the most about performing at Guilt & Co?


Guilt & Co is our home stage! It’s intimate, the staff are fantastic, and most importantly, the venue has believed in us and supported us strongly in what we do for over three years.


Your performances require a lot of energy and multidimensional talent. How do you and ladies of Pandora and the Locksmiths prepare for an upcoming show?


Each performer prepares in their own way, but we also have full group rehearsals together with the band in addition to our own process. The day of, I must set my hair, have a full bath, warm up my voice, and do yoga before running through my act anywhere from two to four times. But each performer is different, and we all have our own rituals that help us get into showgirl mode


Are there any musicians, artists or dancers that influence your work?

Oh, I am just a sponge for inspiration, so it can come from anywhere! I personally really enjoy the lush music and poetry of Bjork right now. But really, there’s such a range of things that spark my interest. It’s very hard to narrow it down.


Do you perform original music at your shows? If so, could you tell us more about that?

I have in the past, but then I started hating my own song, so I fired that act. I have been feeling the urge to write again, so I imagine it will happen again in the future. But I need to figure out how to balance the five jobs that I do in order to make time and energy for more creation in my life. It’ll happen. My life is a bit of a jigsaw puzzle at the moment!


We must say the costumes are jaw dropping! Could you tell us a bit more about your costumes?

Ah yes, the costumes! They are a combination of performers being crafty, and performers knowing very, very talented designers such as Jessica Bayntun, Sandra Stuart, and Misty Greer. And we’re all very loose with our rhinestone spending budgets…it’s a bad habit, constantly reinforced by our inner magpies.


What are some upcoming plans for Pandora & The Locksmiths?

Well, we’re currently working on developing a new show centered on awareness and awakenings. The first show of that run also coincides with the launch of the Ninedoors Photography gallery showing. It’s going to be a very dreamy Spring!

Check out Nicky Ninedoors and Pandora & The Locksmiths at their dynamic live show on Tuesday, February 11 and every second Tuesday of the month Guilt & Company.