Tonight at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, TCM Classic Film Fest opens with a poolside screening of Neptune's Daughter, a 1949 musical featuring Esther Williams, Betty Garrett and Ricardo Montalban. In the spirit of Williams' famed water ballet scenes, the screening will feature a performance from L.A. performance troupe, Aqualillies.
Aqualillies are no strangers to the Roosevelt. Last year, they held a Thursday night residency at the hotel. The company, which features twenty synchronized swimmers and dancers (typically between six and twelve will perform at a time), has played numerous events and private parties over the course of the past year. They have also held synchronized swimming lessons and have a new series of courses coming up this June at the Annenberg Beach House.
Mesha Kussman founded Aqualillies after noticing a pool at a party. "I saw this pool and I thought, this is a stage," she says. "This beautifully lit blue pool is a stage and there needs to be performers in it and around it."
A dancer, choreographer and director, Kussman studied at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and created installation theater pieces in New York before headed out to L.A. in 2003 with a goal to make dance theater "accessible."
"A lot of times, people will go to the theater to see dance or to see a play and one of the things that excites me is bringing the theater to the audience and the party environment is a great way to do that," she explains. "People are always pleasantly surprised and it kicks the party up a notch to suddenly have this really unique theatrical experience happen right in the party environment."
Aqualillies are a mix of old and new Hollywood. The swimmers and dancers, who perform in and around pools, are costumed in 1950s-styled swimsuits, designed by Nicolita in these shots, and perform to remixes of songs by Marilyn Monroe and other tunes that invoke vintage glamor queens. They've taken the style of the legendary swimming sequences from Esther Williams' films and reinvented it to fit modern pool parties.
"My hope is that Aqualillies will help to bring about a renaissance of synchronized swimming as entertainment," says Kussman. "So far, people are really responding to it."
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For more information, check out Aqualillies' website.
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