Turning go-go dancing into an art form
No, Carolyn Valencia won’t dance topless for you. So put away your glitter, stash the body molds and don’t even think about hot wax. Yes, she is a go-go dancer, and sure, she will wear hot pants, crazy boots, maybe even a sexy lace top, but she is dancing, not just shaking it. So don’t get any ideas.After all, Valencia, 29, of Greeley, has fought that stereotype for years, ever since she began dancing a year before she graduated from Santa Clara University in 1999 with two degrees in dance performance and history. She’s a little tired of it. Valencia has her own go-go dance company, and she and her performers just started dancing at Jack’s Place in Greeley about once a month. Things have been good so far, especially since what she first faced with as a performer in San Francisco and Denver.”I danced for MTV, I worked music videos, and I had a level of professionalism I wanted to hold onto,” said Valencia, who works part-time for the Tribune in classifieds. “I was horrified at these positions the girls were put into.” The girls were encouraged to get drunk or do drugs and asked to wear obnoxious, revealing costumes. That’s not what Valencia was about.She considers go-go a form of improvisational dance to music spun by DJs.She doesn’t use a cage, but her performers do dance on a small platform 4 feet high and 4 feet wide. And she will only hire trained dancers. She even loves to incorporate her yoga training – she is an instructor in Fort Collins.”For me, dance is spiritual,” Valencia said. “It is the best form of expression I have. I feel like I’m walking in heaven when I’m dancing.”Don’t ask her to soil that with those crazy requests for nudity or putting her boobs in a mold, as one Denver nightclub asked her to do (when she refused, she was fired but asked back).She formed her own dance company during her three years in Grand Junction after she left Denver. When her relationship there ended, she moved to Greeley in August.One reason for the problems probably stems from the fact that no one really knows how to define go-go dancing. Valencia calls it an art form. But Google.com calls it many other things, with some Web sites spouting serious discussions about how the music evolved from tribal and conga beats, house, jazz and disco, to others that would get you in serious trouble with your workplace’s human resources department if your boss saw you looking at them.”It can be a lot of different things,” said Lynn Bassett, owner of Dance Factory, 2956 29th St. in Greeley. “But I don’t think just anyone could do it. It does take some type of talent to dance to the music and interpret it.”Bassett said usually go-go, if done well, incorporates hip-hop, jazz, maybe even tap, all elements she teaches in her studio. She had a student, in fact, who danced in a high-class L.A. night club. Bassett said the more training go-go dancers have, the better.”You would have more to draw from that way,” she said.But the second reason for the stereotype might come from the clothes go-go dancers wear. Valencia encourages her dancers to dress sexy, with bright neon wigs and boots past their knees and hot pants.”Sure, it’s eye candy,” Valencia said. “Sex does sell. I want people to see something out of the ordinary. It’s theatrical.”That is what Désirée Van Hall, 22, of Loveland loves about go-go dancing. She also is a yoga instructor with extensive dance training.”it’s an alter ego for me,” Hall said. “I’m a calm person, so getting out there and dancing in my underwear is not something I would normally do.It’s like Superman and Clark Kent, you know. “When I told my mother, her jaw dropped, and she asked if I had to take my clothes off. I said, ‘No, Mom, that was my first question.’ “Valencia wouldn’t stand for that. She has too much at stake.”There’s integrity in it,” she said. “I’ve had my parents come and see me when I dance. If you can do it in front of your father, it’s probably OK.”Vail, Colorado
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