'Decadence' founder grew up at Tahoe
If you’re looking for entertainment kissed with a touch of the risqué, you’ll want to check out “Decadence,” a cabaret experience taking Harrah’s Reno Hotel & Casino by storm. The run of the show, presented by Prestige Productions, has been extended through March 5.
“Decadence” features a live vocalist and 11 dancers, plus aerialists performing hot moves to music ranging from hip-hop to musical theater to burlesque to African.
“There’s really no limits,” said Madeline Feldman, founder of Prestige. “One of my favorite numbers is a ratchet remix of ‘The Little Mermaid.’ It’s definitely a crowd favorite.”
The ‘Mermaid’ portion of the show features the slightly alarming sight of a 7-foot tall male Ursula in heels. Other memorable moments include a performance by an absinthe fairy on a trapeze, krumping Mario Bros and a gravity-defying pole routine.
It’s all part of the strange, silly and sensual mix — half bump and grind, half variety show — that characterizes the genre of burlesque. It’s a heady combination but one that is often misunderstood. “There’s the reputation of stripping and such, but there’s a bit more to the dance industry,” Feldman said. “Every performer is highly trained. These are wonderful performers.”
If you’re in the market for some sex appeal, not to worry. The performers may be serious about their craft, but they are willing to don some revealing costumes for the sake of sizzle.
“We promote confidence,” Feldman said. “These are talented performers in front of hundreds of people. They are comfortable in their own skin and comfortable being goofy.”
The skimpiness quotient gave Feldman’s family some qualms when she first began performing in burlesque shows, and later dove head-first into creating them.
“My dad kind of bit his tongue,” she said.
Having seen the creativity and drive evinced by both producer and performers, however, her father has now been to every show.
Just as there’s more to burlesque than meets the eye, there is more to Feldman than her talent for dance.
She was born and raised in Lake Tahoe. Reno, she notes, was were she and her friends went when they wanted to go to the mall. After some time away, the dancer and choreographer returned to the area to study business and psychology at the University of Nevada, Reno -- disciplines that help her as she forges a name for her company and its performers.
What happened next was unexpected.
“I came back to Reno conditionally and ended up falling in love with it,” she said. “These are some of the nicest people in the world.”
Feldman was dancing in burlesque revues when she began thinking about how she’d do things differently if she ran the show. In 2013, she launched her own company, debuting Prestige Productions with a show at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe called “Peek-A-Boo.” Enough people showed up to take a peek that the show was a hit.
Feldman, 24, hasn’t looked back. She says she is just one of the many people working to return Reno to its glory as an entertainment mecca.
“I think it’s exciting to be part of this generation, especially in Reno. There are so many young entrepreneurs,” she said. “These are creative times.”
Feldman, who also teaches at area dance studios, gets a charge out of providing work for worthy dancers and performers.
“It’s amazing that such a small little area produces the amount of talent Reno does,” she said. “One of the great things in the industry is all of the people involved are passionate.”
She also enjoys being part of a genre’s renaissance.
“Burlesque is an era and a style that has been around for years,” she said. “It involves allure and tease and comedy. It is very appreciated.”
Feldman is pleased that the show has been granted more time at Harrah’s. “We had hoped it might be extended. We are extremely excited to be able to do something for the talented performing community that Reno that has to offer,” she said.
She said you’d be surprised at who turns up to enjoy what “Decadence” has to offer. Crowds are both young and old. And the show, as it turns out, is as versatile as burlesque itself.
“It’s a late-night show that you can enjoy to end your evening after dinner,” she said. “Or, you can use it as a pre-game event for a long night out.”
After the run is done, “Decadence” will take to the road and Feldman and her crew will take in the ambience of some new cities. Someday, she hopes to bring a show to Paris.
In the meantime, Feldman always has her eye on the next new thing. Recently, the performers tried some new routines, including one involving fire. It’s innovation that keeps the show fresh.
“We’re a different flavor,” she said. “Anyone who comes to one of our shows can see it’s a new era of cabaret fun.”