Last night (April 11) on Smackdown Live, we were introduced to the new incarnation of Lana via the above video package – and it was not good.
Would it be dramatic to say my eyes rolled so hard I gave myself a headache? Yes.
Is that what happened? Absolutely.
From the point of view of both an avid wrestling fan and a burlesque dancer, let me break it down.
- Why is it shot in soft focus? Come on, WWE — you have fancy cameras! I’m sure the effect of blurry edges was supposed to transport us to a sultry, dreamy cabaret, but it hardly worked. Especially since it was clearly shot on the entrance ramp. Did anyone else think this was a Fandango throwback for a second? Because I sure did. Get out of here with that Drag Race season one nonsense!
- What is going on with the color scheme and costume? The lights are bright purple and blue, which on its own is not a terrible choice but when paired against a bright red tango dress and silvery space boots it clashes terribly. Not to mention the Party City top hat! It doesn’t even have any rhinestones or glitter to make it feel like not a Party City hat! WHY? Also top hat ≠ cabaret. It’s so tired.
- The music. Oh, boy. How does Lana go from the bad ass “Attention!”, a powerful character appropriate entrance song to what I like to call iPhone ringtone “Burlesque”? It’s not sultry, it doesn’t have a good beat, it sounds cheap, and clearly is very difficult to dance to…
- Who taught this girl to dance? The choreography doesn’t match the music... not even a little bit. There are snap sound effects in the song that don’t correspond to the actual snaps Lana is doing (to be fair she does hit, like, one of them)! There is no character development, no build in the structure of the dance, nothing. It’s just 45 seconds of Lana kicking, shimmying, and spinning around a chair while the music swells (I’m being generous) to result in the final moment of a blown kiss. Again, tired.
As a burlesque dancer I found this bit so upsetting. A chair dance is meant to draw your audience in, to make the audience jealous of the chair! It is not just a prop for you to balance on while you kick about. Every moment she touched her legs, or flipped her hair should have been a moment of tease to the audience. A moment of “You want more, don’t you?”
Take for instance the moment behind the chair when she did an impressive grand battement (back kick). She could have stood behind the chair and made smoldering eye contact with the camera while she caressed its curves. Then punctuate the move with a surprise back kick and a knowing smirk. Voila, bring the audience, shock them, make them want more.
Of course, you can’t draw the audience in if you make zero character choices and only make eye contact with the camera at the end of the dance. It wasn’t even done in a “Oh, hello there. I didn’t know you were watching me…” sort of way. It was more like “I’m out of breath from all this kicking. Would you like this kiss now?”
(And yes, I know that WWE is still PG. She still could have made some choices and thrown in a couple of moments of “tease” without turning into Sable. Teasing can be playful. It doesn’t always have to be raunchy.)
I know I’m being harsh. After watching this video and plenty of Lana spinning around on Total Divas, she clearly can dance. She is very flexible, has good body control, etc.
What is also very clear to me is that Lana is a trained dancer, and not a choreographer. The video looks like she was told to “dance” for 10 minutes and then they spliced together the “sexy bits”, threw some cheap music on top, and called it a day, hoping the crowd’s familiarity with her and her pretty face would be enough to distract us. Not to mention that “dancing” gimmicks hardly ever get over and when they do, they don’t tend to last or lead to any spectacular storylines.
It’s just another prong in the downfall of Lana as a character. I long for the olden days of severe buns, crushing the weak, and riding out on tanks.
What is so wrong with being an excellent manager? Lana was strong, powerful, and effective, as both a woman and a pro wrestling character. Now it seems she’s fallen into the “Diva” trap.
I do hope I’m wrong. I hope her wrestling shocks us with how good it is, and her character work makes me eat crow.
But right now I have to go find my eyeballs because they just rolled out of the room.