If there’s anything I miss, it’s the glitz and glamour of the good old days. Imagine going back in time and seeing a full production with a big band, singers, and last but not least, dancers!
The Starella Sisters are here to bring you a glimmer of that glorious past. I’ll let Sanjna Starella take it from here…
The Starella Sisters are not actually sisters, although we may as well be. We sure know how to laugh, cry, love, and have the occasional disagreement, just like sisters.
The Starella Sisters got their start a few years ago when we performed with the Jenny Finn Orchestra at the Secret Society Ballroom. Pearl Stokes and I had just started our own duet after being involved previously in other vintage dance troupes. We were very excited to collaborate and express our shared ideas and vision. The name Starella is a portmanteau of our last names, Stokes and Varela.
Shortly after our debut, Justin and Greg inquired about our choreographing a funny pre-flight skit/dance to perform at Tiki Kon. The theme that year was vintage airline travel. We decided to be “Pan Am girls” and dance to Frank Sinatra’s “Come Fly with Me” following a brief pre-flight skit with Justin and Greg. Our retro stewardess costumes were quite a hit with the attendees and gave us the confidence to feel we were on to something.
It was a decent first attempt at choreographing, but we’ve since then honed our skills as well as grown in number. We added Kristen Behlings to create a trio and performed officially as the Starella Sisters with Tony Starlight. Allison Kramer joined the group shortly afterward and Julie Boucher is our most recent acquisition.
We all share a love for vintage style, music, and dance and strive to create an overall ambiance that harks back to the golden era and beyond. Among the group we have varied backgrounds of ballet, tap, jazz, swing, Irish dance, ballroom, theater, costuming, and vintage hairstyling, all of which makes our group the Starella Sisters. We aim to transport you to a place of fantasy, glitz, and glamour not often seen nowadays.
We have had the wonderful opportunity of performing at quite a few memorable events over the past few years. The coolest? Well, a packed house at Revolution Hall with a full-sized big band to celebrate what would have been Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday is definitely up there. We also have fond memories of our first Tiki Kon performance on an outdoor stage by the Columbia River at sunset, which was pretty amazing.
Crazy stories…we always have at least one crazy/funny story from all of our gigs! One that comes to mind is the time that I had a major wardrobe malfunction as we were finishing up a number at one of Tony Starlight’s Copacabana tributes. The guests were seated at dinner tables and for this particular number we were dancing our way around the floor among the audience rather than on stage. I became aware in the middle of the number that the zipper on the back of my strapless sequined gown was gradually pulling itself apart. Instead of freaking out, I was trying to play it cool and gracefully make my way to the dressing room before inadvertently turning the dance into a burlesque number. Kristen had noticed what was happening and was frantically trying her best to get behind me in order to minimize the number of audience members noticing. Kristen was so worried about me that she hadn’t realized the zipper on her gown had given up the ghost early in the number. It’s a miracle her dress stayed on despite the zipper gaping open all the way down her back. Pearl says she’s never had to conceal laughter so determinedly in her life. We must have looked like a comedy skit!
Now, on to Tiki since this is a Tiki blog. My favorite Tiki drink is the 1944 Mai Tai, followed by a rum old-fashioned in close second. Our favorite Tiki bar? Hale Pele, of course! Everyone is so personable and the atmosphere is amazing! A true escape.
What does the future hold for the Starella Sisters? I feel like we’re just getting started! We are about to start working on a piece for the Oregon Historical Society’s History Makers Dinner in October. We also plan on performing at Miz Kitty’s Parlour this upcoming season and were recently asked to perform at Tiki Oasis down in San Diego in 2018.
We are grateful to have formed this special group of ladies. Sharing our ideas, bringing them to fruition, and experiencing this creative outlet together brings us so much pleasure. We hope to spread our joy and our particular manifestation of retro glamour for years to come.
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