Brian Scott Bagley Pays Tribute to Josephine Baker in Montclair, New Jersey


Dancer/Producer/Choreographer Brian Scott Bagley never imagined his homage to the late Josephine Baker, a dance piece he’s ingeniously titled ‘Josefiend’, would steal thunder from the unstoppable sexpot Dita Von Teese. But that’s just what happened – unintentionally of course, as Bagley and Von Tesse are friendly colleagues – when “La Gentry de Paris Revue” opened to raves overseas just two weeks ago.

Now Bagley’s visiting stateside through the end of next weekend as both a choreographer and dancer in another Baker-related production, Jerome Savary’s “A La Recherche de Josephine” (“Looking for Josephine”), in which Jersey homegirl Nicolle Rochelle has her turn playing the revered icon. 
 
Not unlike the late Baker herself, Bagley is an American in Paris, having lived there for the past three years (though he hasn’t surrendered his citizenship as Baker eventually did). Residency there has allowed his career to morph into something far more complex than what American Idol viewers might recall from the 2005 season when Bagley was one of the more memorable DC auditions, thereafter dubbed, ‘The Dancing Janitor,’ (a reflection of his employment at the time).

The Idol connection may have brought some fleeting recognition, but it wasn’t until he moved to Paris that Bagley – a former Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre Student – found some real footing in his career. Working on Savary’s ambitious storyline that celebrates African-American spirit through song and dance while juxtaposing Baker’s fiery legacy against a post-Katrina New Orleans (thus mirroring the civil rights issues from two different periods in American history), Bagley networked his way into the newly revitalized Parisian burlesque culture. At the center of the revival is a performer called ‘Gentry de Paris’ (Gentry Lane), and it was through Lane that a connection with Dita Von Teese was forged.  Choreographic work on another Savary production has since followed, “Don Quichotte Contre L’Ange Bleu” (“Don Quioxte against the Blue Angel”) starring Arielle Dombalse, (you may remember her from “Miami Vice” but Bagley insists her current status as ‘France’s opera singing Aphrodite’ is a more accurate representation).
 
So, you can just imagine Bagley’s astonishment when the European press erupted over his performance of ‘Jospefiend’ in Lane’s “La Gentry de Paris Revue.” Known for her affinity toward Betty Grable and an aura that marries Bettie Paige with a miraculous concoction of depravity and elegance, surely Von Teese would steal the stage. And yet the European tastemakers still made plenty of room for Bagley.

CURRENTLY PLAYING AT MONTCLAIR STATE UNIVERSITY’S KASSER THEATER THROUGH SUNDAY, 9/28.
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