Showcasing yet another incredible Philly area performer: Isa Ardiente! Look for her new quarterly show Nudey Tunes at Ruba where she and HoneyTree EvilEye create an original storyline combining live music and burlesque! Nudey Tunes: Prohibition on March 17th features the live music of Drew Nugent and the Midnight Society with a stunning lineup of burlesque stars. Get tix here.
How long have you been involved in Burlesque? Why?
I have been doing burlesque for a year now. Why do burlesque? Well, I’ve been a fan of burlesque for many years and it was always something that seemed so exhilarating and empowering. I’ve been a performer my whole life, but I usually have directors, choreographers, costumers tell me what to do, how to move, and what to wear. I wanted to have a space to decide such things. As an actor, it’s hard to not be pegged into a type. I just wanted the chance to be sexy, or goofy or whatever I decided.
One night while attending 6 Appeal I leaned over to Tesla Tease and whispered in her ear, “Do you think I could do that?” and she squealed and then replied with an emphatic, “Yes. Do it.”
I booked a gig at Tongue in Cheek at Tabu and borrowed most of the costume pieces and just gave it a go. It scared me so I knew it was something I had to try.
How/why did you choose your stage name?
I knew I wanted something to reflect being Latina since my given name doesn’t at all. Isa was my mom’s nickname growing up and it’s a name I’ve always loved. I thought- either save this for a future child of my own, or create a burlesque persona out of it. It seemed a fitting tribute to the strong and sexy woman who has been such a tremendous role model. Ardiente- It just isn’t that deep. It means burning, fiery, ardent. It had a nice ring to it. Some people say they’re not sure how to pronounce it. (Arrr-dee-ehn-teh) Give it a go; I know you can do it.
How would you describe your persona onstage?
Isa is confident; she knows how to work the crowd. Audience interaction is one of the best things about burlesque for me and I love developing a relationship with the audience. Isa is sexy in a more classic way, but she’s also silly and she really loves playing with her hips. I have a theatre and dance background and often pull from the two when performing burlesque.
I want to tell a story. I want to make you feel something.
Why do you love performing for Philadelphia audiences?
Philly burlesque audiences are the most loving, accepting weirdos I know. They are enthusiastic, they show up, and they are game for just about anything
How do you invent/create your costumes?
I don’t often make things entirely from scratch. I sometimes take a piece and rework it, or add to it. I’ve also commissioned pieces for a couple of acts. When I’m looking to put a new act together, my OCD runs wild and I have to comb through the city and online to find the exact right pieces that will match what’s in my head. It’s tedious. Really, I want costumes that put me in a particular mindset. I want pieces that feel good or give me a different walk, a different swagger, etc., and also things that are fun to play with when removing.
Where do you get your ideas for different acts? Good story about any one in particular?
Ideas usually come from one of a few places. 1- I have an existing character I want to interpret. 2- I have a song I just NEED to build an act around. 3- I have a particular costume piece that is just so awesome I have to create an act around it.
I do a marionette act to the Yael Naim cover of Britney Spears’ Toxic. It’s been on my Spotify “Burlesque?” playlist for months now but one day I listened to it and just knew she had to be some kind of puppet. A puppet that liked being controlled.
From there it was only a matter of figuring out an apparatus that would be entirely self-contained and transportable.
If money were no object, what would be your dream burlesque act?
Ooh, I’m not entirely sure! It would definitely involve using a live band. Maybe I’d sing. Anyone want to help me find out?
Seems like the dream is coming true March 17th! Check out the show at Ruba!