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Alumna serves as artistic director of WLVd

Larshell Green

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The Wicked Little Voodoo Dolls created their name through a late night discussion about the image and performance style they wished to have. The group performs a variety of shows in the local area. 
Courtesy of  Stacy Rutherford   
 

Local women, including some with connections to the university, initially came together for one common goal: to entertain audiences through music, live theatre, song and acrobatics in the form of classic New Orleans burlesque shows.

The current active members of The Wicked Little Voodoo Dolls are Crystal Schayot as Crystal Kiss, Felicity Prosperie as Violet Haze, Madeline Pourciau as Moonlight Mist, Scarlett Strauch as Ruby Spell, Ashley Lewis as Maizy Mae, Christa Sevin as Indigo Dream, Courtney Turgeon and Dionne Bates.

“Any other members of the original formation of the group have either moved out of state or have pursued other goals and aspirations,” said Schayot. “All members of the group are variously talented artists who have previously and are currently pursuing multiple endeavors.”

Schayot described The Wicked Little Voodoo Dolls as classy and sassy. Each show has a different theme with different music and is performed over the course of a month at different venues. Each performer has at least one solo during the performance.

“Our shows incorporate a wide range of dance styles and variety acts,” said Schayot. “I love using everyone’s diverse talents and incorporating them into what we do. The shows are mainly dance-based, but other types of acts are incorporated and welcomed. For the dancing, I try to include as many styles as I can including jazz, theatre jazz, contemporary, tap, ballet, pointe and hip-hop. For the other acts, we have incorporated acrobatics and singing, but I am very open to other possible variety acts.”

Schayot is the artistic director, lead choreographer and performer for The Wicked Little Voodoo Dolls. She is a 2013 alumni of the university and has graduated with a bachelor’s degree in performing arts, as well as concentrations in dance and theatre. She has been a member of the group since March 2015 when it was created. 

“I am a lifelong dancer and artist,” said Schayot. “Dance is and has always been my main focus and passion, and this group is one more way for me to express that to anyone willing to watch. I am inspired by so many things that sometimes it’s hard to keep track of it all, but it’s a good problem to have.”

Senior general studies major Prosperie will be returning to the university to finish her last semester. She is a dancer and singer and has been with the group since it’s beginning stages. 

“In general, I was excited to perform with singing, dancing and acting which are all loves of mine,” said Prosperie.

Prosperie admits that some of the goals of the group were to expand the French Quarter culture of New Orleans while incorporating burlesque.  

“I’m a performer at heart,” said Prosperie. “So for Crystal to bring the idea to me to create a group with the intentions of putting together a classy but entertaining show with a New Orleans feel, got me excited.”

Pourciau is a senior theatre major at Louisiana State University. She joined The Wicked Little Voodoo Dolls in September 2016. 

While searching for a job on Craigslist, Pourciau saw an audition filler and was immediately drawn to the idea of a variety group. 

“I had never seen anything like that before and was really driven to become a part of it,” said Pourciau. “It’s not often I find jobs in my field that I’m one hundred percent excited about, but WLVD was different. I knew I needed to do my best to join the group, or I’d be kicking myself for letting the opportunity pass me by.”

Lewis, a university alumni of 2011 and former university dance professor, earned a bachelor’s degree in business management and later returned to study as a graduate student. She joined The Wicked Little Voodoo Dolls in October 2016 as a dancer.

When choosing a name for the group, Schayot and the rest of the members wanted to choose a name that would be relevant to her hometown of New Orleans have uniqueness and be recognizable. 

“I have always been intrigued by any and all things related to our city and culture, including voodoo,” said Schayot. “Thanks to all the research, it was also helpful in the process of choosing stage names, music and even costumes. The pins that are used on a voodoo doll to represent different things, such as love or good fortune, are the core of how we base our performance details.”  

The Wicked Little Voodoo Dolls typically perform in venues such as dance halls, auditoriums, bars and clubs. From time to time, the group switches up the places in which they perform at. 

“Non-typical events and venues we would be able to perform at may include anything from a convention, to a parade, to a party, a wedding, an outdoor show/concert and the list can keep going,” said Schayot. “We performed for Hammond Horror Fest this year, and we’re looking to do a few other things now such as marching in some of the Mardi Gras parades, maybe even perform at a Mardi Gras Ball, and there’s even some talk about performing at the New Orleans Comic Con next year.” 

The group’s first show at Hammond Horror Fest has held a special place in the heart of Pourciau. The challenging bits, introduction to other artists and bond with her fellow members of the group solidified the new journey the women were beginning. 

“I felt like we became family on that night,” said Pourciau. “I want the audience to feel inspired, to feel that they too can find their outlet and share their creativity with others. It’s a magical thing when art brings people together.”

Like Pourciau, Lewis also enjoyed performing at Hammond Horror Fest and she stated that recognizing the benefits of working, as a team has been her most valuable lesson as a member.

“We each have different talents from singing, dancing and even creating art,” said Lewis. “We are all simply artists. Everything you see we create ourselves from the merchandise to even our own dance costumes.” 

Prosperie believes that the diversity of the members is the most unique quality of The Wicked Little Voodoo Dolls. She also believes that having a live singer as a part of a burlesque show is a unique addition to performances by creating a vintage New Orleans live show.

“We have different girls from different backgrounds with different abilities coming together as one to entertain our audience,” said Prosperie.

The most valuable lesson learned for Prosperie through being a member of The Wicked Little Voodoo Dolls is to do what she loves which is performing. She enjoys getting feedback from the audience after performances.

“Performing in our group feeds my soul in the sense that I am doing purely what I enjoy, entertaining,” said Prosperie. “No matter what problems may arise, or what obstacles I have to go through, at the end of the day, it’s all worth it because I’m a part of something that is bringing joy to others.”

Pourciau has also learned the art of dedication since joining The Wicked Little Voodoo Dolls despite not having a dance background. 

“Crystal has helped me to grow in ways I never thought possible,” said Pourciau. “I’m really happy with the progress we’ve made and am so grateful for her time and patience.” 

Pourciau has since seen changes in her work ethic and personal life. 

“I’m more willing to boldly take on challenges and work for what I want, rather than let my anxiety hold me back,” said Pourciau.

According to Schayot, The Wicked Little Voodoo Dolls are always taking applications and conducting auditions. Interviews and auditions can be held in a variety of ways.

“The first option is to meet with me in person to show your talent and continue with a brief casual interview,” said Schayot. “The other option is to email your audition to [email protected] with your full name, contact info, photos, headshot and full body, and two shorter 30 to 45 second videos to show your talents.” 

Although Schayot keeps an open mind when searching for new members, the most important qualities that she considers are personality and attitude. Having positivity and eagerness are imperative to being a part of The Wicked Little Voodoo Dolls. 

“I love being able to incorporate everyone’s versatile talents into the shows when I can,” said Schayot.  “Being technically trained is helpful, but not always necessary. If you are willing to work hard, I’m willing to help you get to where you want to be. As a teacher, that is my job and I love it.” 

The Wicked Little Voodoo Dolls can be seen at Cate Street Pub in Hammond on Tuesday, Jan. 31 to perform their “Twisted Ritz Glamour & Glitz” show, which will include tunes of musical theatre.

For more information, visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/WLVDnola or email them at [email protected]

Although women with multiple backgrounds and personalities joined together for the purpose of performing and entertaining audiences, it is their hard work and dedication to their craft that bonds them together.

“I love being able to choreograph and perform and just do what I love to do,” said Schayot. “The fact that the other members of the group can come together to do the exact same thing makes it absolutely worth all of the time and energy we put into everything. We would not take the time to make and embellish our own costumes and props and merchandise and choreograph our dances and practice and everything else that goes along with being a performance artist if we didn’t absolutely love it.”

 

 

 

 

The Wicked Little Voodoo Dolls’ first performance was at the Hammond Horror Fest, an annual festival held in the beginning of October that showcases the local arts community. Felicity Prosperie, Violet Haze, prepares for the performance backstage that marked the beginning of a new journey for the group.
Courtesy of Crystal Schayot
 

 

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