Presenting Lola Ohlala & Cabaret Versatile in LA!
Read French version :Interview avec lola Ohlala
Dancer, choreographer and producer , Lola Ohlala, born Axelle Marcuéÿz ( name she only uses in the role of the producer) trained in ballet and modern dance at the young age of 4 and embarked into the world of theater along side talented artists such as Jean-Claude Cotillard (father of the famous Marion), Amédée Bricolo Mérouse or Nicole at the National Conservatory of Dramatic Art of Orleans and then played with several theater companies. Her passion for Cabaret was born naturally with dance and drama intertwining always with a touch of French glamor of “joie de vivre” and humor that always accompanies her performances!
During the last ten years, Lola Ohlala has danced and choreographed cabaret performances in France Bourges, Paris, Orleans and St Tropez. Carpe Noctem the first show she wrote for the Los Angeles public with her Cabaret Versatile Demoiselles nominated for the Best International Show and winner of the prestigious award for Best Cabaret Show Variety at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in 2012.
Today, it is with great pleasure that we meet Lola Ohlala ( in the center of picture) smiling and overflowing with energy on the eve of her show entitled “Femmes” (Women) The second edition of a collaboration with the troupe of belly dance-burlesque “Bell-esque” with the Cabaret Versatile on February 16th at Skinny’s Lounge in North Hollwyood (NOHO)!
Bonjour Lola, where are you from in France?
I am the youngest of a family of 4 children, I was born in Gien but I lived over 20 years in Orleans so I’m really a Orleanese (and no, nothing in common with Joan of Arc for the wise owl!)
Why Los Angeles?
Well, I never really never had the American dream or some delusion of grandeur. I much prefer the spirit and passionate fever of the creative artistic troupe. My main reason for moving to the US was the only one who could compete with my love for the French countryside and Parisian nights … falling in love 😉
Where do you get your inspiration for the dance?
At 4 years old, I put on my first ballet shoes (or rather my socks). At 8, I discovered Michael Jackson’s BAD album. Then at 10, I took my first classic & modern Jazz dance classes and being a little too undisciplined for the bars with “ants in my pants” … I prefered and loved all the great classic musicals and discovered Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Ginger Rogers and the whole gang. I already devoured the Lido and Moulin Rouge shows rebroadcast every year at New Year’s Eve. It was only much later after watching the first film Cabaret for a theatrical production that I finally discovered with utmost delight the world of Bob Fosse and grand ladies such as Zizi Jeanmaire, Ute Lemper, Liza Minnelli, Eartha Kitt and many more …
How was your passion for dance born?
If only I knew! I think that passion is a part of ourselves at an early age. It is active and you cannot control it. I tried many times to choose another path or an easier “sure” path in life. I’m not from a family of entertainers and if cabaret, dance and theater were not a passion I would simply not be here today!
Tell us about your career?
I started the cabaret after a period of intense acting and drama. Having stopped dancing for a few years, I had the pleasure of spending more time in the theater and in particular to study at the Conservatoire National d’Orléans with the great Jean-Claude Cotillard (father of the famous Marion), but also Nicole Merouse of the Comédie Francaise and Christian Massas (aka Amadeus Bricolo) student of the “Commedia dell arte” and mask work. Working with different companies, I had just never imagined doing cabaret, until a theatrical production made me cross the road when I met an extremely talented artist (Jérome Marin) who opened my eyes to the world of cabaret. From that day on, I felt a connection to the Cabaret world and grabbed every opportunity to discover, learn more and more, alongside songwriters, comedians, mimes, acrobats, ventriloquists and other colorful characters … What I love the most about Cabaret is this melting pot of artists who all breathe and live for the same thing and for the success of the show. For me, to exist, a cabaret artist must be “versatile”.
Your guilty pleasure?
Massages … and I confess that “gourmandise” is my biggest weakness! (not many dancers will tell you otherwise!)
Your favorite saying?
“When you got to go on, you got to go!” This is not really a saying but it is a phrase that sums up the state of mind that an artist must have if he wants to survive. Whether it’s about mustering up courage before going on stage or getting motivated to do a performance that does not really fit his or her artistic desires … or simply to get up when we do not know when the next contract will come in.
Or in English, “The Show Must Go On!” ?
Sorry, but I do not like the saying, “The show must go on!” Actually, I can not stand this cliché. For me, the phrase “When you got to go on, you got to go” means “The show is always on” and to say “must” is a utopia when the stage is your passion. For me, performing is not a task that has to be done it is a passion exercised for the audience’s enjoyment! This difference is very important to me.
A typical day for preparation of a show?
Haha! It all depends on how many days till showtime! ? But, typically I get up at 8 am, have breakfast in front of my computer screen, check mails, social networks update, research music, work on business of the day, on costumes, push the furniture out-of-the-way to work and develop new choreography. Go to rehearsals, back to work on photos for com, website, and even respond to emails, questions for future shows. I generally enjoy some more personal phone calls when I walk my dog. So when the phone rings, he goes crazy and gets his ball for his walk! Sometimes, I stay awake into the wee hours of the morning especially in the creation phase. The quiet of the night gives you the feeling that time stops and stands still, lets you escape and sometimes it’s the sounds of the first morning birds that bring me out of my dreamy bubble. (Here is a video interview during rehearsal)
What is the “French Cabaret”?
From my point of view there are two forms of cabaret. The “authentic” cabaret, born in the belly of Paris in the late 19th century cafés, wine bar rather than theater, where singers mocked society in the form of songs, poems, and shadows in exchange for a drink or two.
Throughout the years, the Moulin Rouge gave birth to Cancan (snubbing the aristocracy of the time, which later became the British and more “chaste” French Cancan), then cabaret made its entrance in the US Music Halls. With feathers, rhinestones and glamor , cabaret became a show of luxury losing its humor and sarcasm to retain only the dream and magic of the show. With Cabaret Versatile I try to embody some of that authenticity while keeping the freshness of French glamor through the dancers interpreting a variety of rich and unpredictable characters. The male sex is also represented in turn by an actor, an acrobat and then soon an outrageous male character … should join the “Demoiselles Versatile!”
Was Cabaret Versatile born in Los Angeles?
Yes! Lola Ohlala is French but Cabaret Versatile began in Los Angeles. At the “Hollywood Fringe Festival 2012”, we had the honor to receive the Award for Best Cabaret & Variety Show and nominated for Best International Show! We are currently wanting to participate in the 2013 edition because we really enjoyed the Ben Hills’ ( Festival Director) work and team organization.
To be “versatile” was and will always be the key word in the world of entertainment, especially in the Cabaret. From the Roxy Theatre for a concert of electro-rock with the band Shotgun Radio and the famous Metalachi, the Hollywood Blvd Theater for our show Carpe Noctem, to our outdoor performance at the Bastille Day Los Angeles in Elysian Park, I love unpredictable choreographic challenges to explore new worlds always with a “French glamor” touch seasoned with a touch of humor…
For this reason,while we originated in Los Angeles, we are a traveling troupe with a mission to bring the French cabaret wherever you want! Is it not the fundamental purpose of a passion? To want to share it with the world!
See you soon!
Artist Management: SPLASH PR/Claire Arnaud Aubour
Photo Credits: Emmanuelle Choussy