Amid the pulsating music and swaying bodies in South Beach’s nightlife fantasy world, a theatrical genre known as High Fashion Circus has become an essential element in the success of top-tier nightclubs, and at the center of these petite productions stands a creative mind that is responsible for some of the most strikingly innovative costume designs and choreography in the business.
Olga Saretsky’s Kikimora Studio produces costumes and spot light performances for nightclubs and posh private events that range from elegant to outrageous and always possess a touch of whimsy.
While her choreography is characterized by fluid improvisational motion, it is her dramatic costume designs and character creations that transcend the typical skimpy garb worn by go-go dancers in lesser markets. Bizarre creatures that sparkle in the darkness and invade the night with their impish theatrics are the hallmark of Olga’s work.
I first met Olga when she was performing at the late night Eyeliner Subculture party on Lincoln Road, and soon after realized that it was she who had created so many of the memorable events I had photographed in Miami. Only then did I come to understand the essence of her work. Olga Saretsky and the artisans at Kikimora Studio create special moments in time—exquisite works of living art that are true vignettes of glamour.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Olga about her work…
How many shows and events do you do in a typical year?
“Kikimora studio usually does around 2-3 performances a week at various clubs and other entertainment venues as well as social and corporate events. We do over 100 events a year.”
Each one of your costume designs seem to be based on a character that has a personality all its own. When you’re creating a new design, which do you envision first, the character, the choreography or the costume?
“Thank you for noticing the unique character in every creation! For me, choreography and costume tie together in such a way that when I envision a new character I see it in full costume and moving. If I don’t see a full character from the beginning, but the desire to create is strong, I start from the costume’s head piece and trust that the rest of it will come to me and be beautiful no mater what. After all is done, I then do a “test drive,” I stretch the skin of the new creature on my body and let it go wild in my studio. I record on video the first steps and build in more movements that complement the shape of the character.”
From a new costume’s initial sketches and renderings, to its first live performance, how long is the development process?
“Development time is always different. If I start a project immediately after first sketch, next is material shopping—hoping that I find all I need—that takes about 2-3 days, then construction itself takes from 2 to 7 days. I would say that simple shape creation take me about 2 to 7 days to bring it to life.”
Where do you find inspiration for your creations?
“Inspiration for new creations comes from almost anything… nature, animal kingdom, the elements, music, colors of life itself. But sometimes I see creations in my dreams or a daydreaming state of mind. Creatures like “Polkadots Fox”,“UFO”, “Fire Queen” and “Zebra Lady” come to me over a good night sleep. There is also time when I pick up a pen and start doodling on piece of paper next to me while I’m talking on the phone, and before I know it there is a new design staring at me from under the pen. A great living doodle example is a creature name “Lips”. Never underestimate doodles!”
All of your performers have beautifully sexy physiques, that’s a given. But, what else do you look for in a performer?
“Good question! I can name 3 major qualities right away…
I’m always looking for a “creature” inside of every performer that love’s people and love’s their self—a creature that isn’t scared to bring their own personality, their own essence that expresses who they are in a playful way through movement and sound…[laughs]… yes, some of my creatures can produce funny or weird noises to complete the character.”
“The dance and theater background of a performer is very important, but I also find “creature talent” in non-trained performers as well, that are sometimes the most unique of all.”
“Very important is responsibility and ability to learn fast—learn the dance routine , learn how to put on the costume , learn how to help others. A female performer who allows herself to be liberated from the social mask of ego and make-up on their own face that has been attached to go-go dancing. She must be the creature of playfulness, mystery and light inside herself that I believe is at the core of every woman, and I like to help manifest this.”
Do your costumes have to be tailored/fitted to each individual performer?
“I tailor the costumes to my type of body and that fits most of the performers.”
Do you personally perform at every show or event?
“Yes, I do perform myself most of the time and have available talent with me to keep me company and complete a duet if needed.”
Have any other designers influenced your work?
“There is no one in particular that influenced my designs, but I do get inspired by looking at the art of Nick Cave, Madam Peripetie, Ivan Prieto, Lin Tianmiao and many others. I love finding beautiful art online and can swim through abstract art pictures forever! It brings me hope that my art can be accepted and recognized just like their art is, it inspire me to go on. It widens my world and extends the possibilities!”
Do you collaborate with anyone else in your design and choreography work?
“Yes, for past year I have been collaborating with Amir Sultan Roth, we already gave birth to one of my favorite creatures “Gremlin,” where Amir’s idea of big ears, isolated eyes and his biological aesthetic from nature moved me to make a sketch come to life as a full-size creature. Amir’s air brush fine art breathes life into the character and made it uniquely his own style. Amir Sultan is a multi-talented creator, he is not only a beautiful painter, but he is also an exceptional percussionist that builds his own uniquely tuned instruments and composes music for my creatures. We perform together often.”
Where did the name “Kikimora” come from?
“Kikimora was my nick name in my early childhood, so when the time came to pick a stage name, Kikimora came up in my mind naturally and I kept it. Same thing with my company, I was thinking about many names but Kikimora studio felt the most comfortable. If you look deeper at the origins of the word Kikimora, you will find direct connection to my eastern European upbringing—lots of mystical meaning and mystery, just like I like it!
What range of performers and services can Kikimora Studio provide?
“Kikimora Studio provides live statue entertainment, mime, interactive creatures, precision performances with dancers, circus acts with fire dancers and acrobatics, cultural dance performances and unique original music. We also custom build decorations and props for events, photo shoots and theater productions. We’re always up for a challenge!”