With their hair pieces, corsets and bustles, there's an air of Old West sexuality to the ladies in the Vagabond Misfits. In fact, founder Cleo Katra (who requested we use her stage name), when searching for a way to describe her year-old dance troupe in an e-mail, settles on "Wild Wild West saloon girls."
Of course, that's just the beginning. Overall the group, which includes her adult daughter, tags itself as "a steampunk ensemble," with some of the six or so members sporting the goggles-and-pistols aesthetic. The description of their dancing is a little fluid as well: family-friendly with an edge, maybe.
"I teach my dancers belly dance, but I blend it with modern and jazz and other things that I have experience in," Katra says in our initial phone conversation. "And we do all-original choreography for our troupe numbers — we build it together as a team."
To get that experience, Katra, who was born and raised in Portland, Ore., spent the '80s traveling the country as a cabaret-style stripper. She also practiced the aforementioned belly-dance for 14 years, and says she even performed for some of the national teams at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002.
"All is brought to the stage, kind of morphed," the 44-year-old writes of the troupe's dance numbers. "I'm letting the audience and the public know that a dancer can be confident, beautiful (hopefully) and sexy without having to show flesh and still rock a show."
That combination will hit hard when the Vagabond Misfits perform with fire-eaters, jugglers, magicians, slack-liners and fortune-tellers, among others — as well as a host of other in-state bands, including El Toro de la Muerte, Grant Sabin and Animus Invidious — at the Time Traveller's Circus, for which Katra's also the event coordinator.
One group she's excited for is Denver's Itchy-O, a 32-piece taiko-style techno marching band with its own Chinese dragon. Laughing, Katra says, "There's no way you can beat that, I'm sorry."