Wednesday, Dec 05 2012 03:49 PM

Pour some Sugar on your holiday

BY ASHLEY FISCHER Contributing writer

Sugar plums, beware: you won't be the only ones dancing through people's heads this holiday season.

The ladies of Bakersfield's Sugar Sugar Cabaret dance troupe will return to The Empty Space this weekend for their annual winter performance: "Seduce Me."

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Sugar Sugar Cabaret presents 'Seduce Me'

When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Where: The Empty Space, 706 Oak St.

Admission: $10

Information: 327-7529 or sugarsugarcabaret@gmail.com

Note: This group performs some "burlesque-style" dance not recommended for children under 16.

But troupe founder and director Diana Cortez is aiming to achieve a whole lot more with her show than some simple seduction; she hopes to delight and entertain audiences with her unique blend of modern dance performances and live comedy.

"With my dance troupe, I wanted to go back to the vaudeville kind of thing; I just wanted to entertain," Cortez said. "You're going to see some character pieces, some comedy, and a lot of different dance styles all kind of meshed together. My main goal is for my audience to not be bored."

Packed into this two-hour show (two acts separated by a 15-minute intermission), are 17 dance numbers, all choreographed by Cortez, with a little help from the other troupe members. Many of the acts will debut at this performance, while others are returning audience favorites.

Each of the seven members of this diverse group of dancers has received assorted training, so audiences can expect to see (and hear) just about anything -- hip-hop, jazz, tap and even belly dancing. More concerned with fun than technical perfection, Cortez has a friendly, open attitude toward dance that is reflected in the free-wheeling format of her shows.

"It's a lot of fun," she said. "Our emcee, Julie Jordan Scott, really engages the audience. And every show I do always involves some audience participation. At some point, everyone there gets up and just starts moving and dancing. Really, it's anything goes. Cortez wanted to avoid giving her show a holiday-specific theme; however, for those looking for a little bit of holiday spirit, there will be a few Christmas skits, and local performer Jordan Scott -- "the mistress of ceremonies," as Cortez has dubbed her -- will be crooning a classic Christmas tune.

Cortez, who recently turned 54, founded her dance troupe shortly after moving to Bakersfield from Ventura.

Getting her start as a dancer in her 30s, Cortez wanted to encourage other women, no matter what their age, to get up and start moving.

"Dance was always something I wanted to do as a child," she said. "But I didn't have a chance to do what I really wanted to until later in my life. I really want to encourage women my age to dance. It's a fun environment, and it's an excellent way to relieve your stress. You forget about everything else that's going on in your life, and you just dance."

"Seduce Me" will run for two nights only: Friday and Saturday.

This will be Sugar Sugar Cabaret's only performance until they return for their spring show in April, so be sure to get your tickets if you want to catch this group in action.

"I think many people come not knowing what they're getting into. But basically, they're going to be entertained. I hope they laugh, and I hope they enjoy the music and the dancing I put together for them."

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