Walking into the dress rehearsal of the 12th annual Vogue Charity Fashion Show, I was met with a slew of bending legs, bumping booties and a surprisingly diverse group of dancers and models.
This year’s co-chairs—Brandon Rasula and Aleks Bibić—are giving the long-standing Queen’s event a facelift with several changes from years past.
Rasula explained some of the challenges the pair faced in taking on the show.
“In the past there has been a somewhat narcissistic view of Vogue, this year we really wanted to diversify the cast and give everyone an opportunity to be involved,” he said. “We wanted to make it fun again and throw out that cookie cutter image of our show.”
Proceeds from the show this year are going to Camp Outlook, a Queen’s charity that takes underprivileged and at-risk youth from the Kingston community on weekend and 10 to15-day wilderness camping trips. In the past, participants have cited Camp Outlook as a positively life-changing experience. It’s clear everyone involved in Vogue this year is passionate and honoured to be raising awareness for the cause.
One of the most notable changes to the production this year is the change in venue from Grant Hall to the Grand Theatre in the heart of downtown Kingston. But Rasula said there have been some ups and downs faced so far in their rehearsals for the show this weekend.
“Grant in the past gave us a sort of ‘anything goes’ attitude in terms of seating,” he said. “Backstage, we could in a sense get away with anything. Here, however, there is more of a sense of structure and professionalism.”
Rasula added that by changing the venue to the Grand Theatre, he and Bibić hope to bring more notoriety to Vogue, not only across campus, but also throughout Kingston.
“Though the show may not be as interactive as it was in Grant in some ways, now there are better seats, better views and an all around new and exciting experience,” he said. “The invitation to the Kingston community is an essential part of change and it will hopefully give Vogue a more city-wide name making it bigger and better than ever.”
After having the privilege of seeing a dress rehearsal on Wednesday night, it’s clear that whether you are a Queen’s student, professor or Kingston resident, Vogue will exceed your expectations. Backed by a soundtrack dripping with current dance-worthy tracks, the show will have you moving in your seats.
An energetic, talented and united group tackles all aspects of the show, impressively covering a plethora of genres both in the dance and fashion. Headed by lead choreographer Ashley Jenkin, hip-hop, jazz, lyrical, stomp, swing, disco and modern are only a handful of the dance styles mastered by the group.
The dispersed modeling showcases are also equally entertaining with some refreshingly different independent design choices.
Ranging from swimwear and sequined evening gowns to lingerie and male kilts, the pieces are a unique and interesting snapshot of some of the great design talent within Queen’s.
One of the most evident aspects of the Vogue environment is the camaraderie between the cast members—the constant cheering during the dress rehearsal demonstrated this dynamic in the large group.
“Everyone here is here to do what they love, whether it be photography, dancing, modeling, film,” Rasula said. “We all work together to ultimately give back to the community, and in the process we’ve become a little Vogue community ourselves.”
“We just want people to leave excited, happy and with a smile on their face,” he said. “We want Vogue to grow and get bigger every year and that will only happen through people enjoying the work”
With a warning splashed across the sea of purple shirts worn by the performers—“Last year wasn’t hard enough…”—it’s worth going to see just how hard Vogue 2009 can go.
The Vogue Charity Fashion show runs at The Grand Theatre March 5, 6 and 7 at 7 p.m. with a 1 p.m. matinee on March 7.
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