SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, April 22, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — Meg Hinds is both the brains and the beauty behind the madcap theatrical kaleidoscope known as the Kiki Cabaret, a thrilling and titillating monthly variety show with performances, creative art installations, and a plethora of immersive themes.
Kiki, at the Alliance Theater in Trolley Square, is populated by burlesque and circus acts, live musicians, drag queens and kings, comedians, jugglers, pole dancers, aerialists, acrobats, stilt walkers, unicyclists, and other talented artists. The theme and the performers change every month, and guests are encouraged to dress up and be immortalized by a professional photographer.
The event, which is produced in collaboration with Utah Arts Alliance, is held on the last Sunday of each month.
Hinds, as well as being a certified yoga instructor, is a professional belly dancer. She has danced with award-winning troupes across the United States, and has made guest appearances and taken part in workshops in Australia and India. She has a background in classic cabaret-style belly dance as well as fusion, burlesque, and fire performance.
“I have been studying Middle Eastern dance as the majority of performance that I do, so I’ve studied belly dance for over 20 years and I’ve also studied samba and salsa and burlesque and jazz and modern and whatever else I could get my hands on, but belly dance definitely is my love, for sure,” Hinds said. She said she started belly dancing around 24 years ago.
Hinds also has a background in event planning and supplying staff for special events.
“I started organizing events with the mission to not only elevate performances for fringe communities, like if you’re working with the samba community or the West African dance community, or anything like that, I feel like there’s just not as much promotion and/or places for them to be seen that aren’t, just, like your state fair type of a thing; we’re not treated like the ballet,” she said. “So I was trying to create some spaces, not only for us to be able to perform and elevate those art forms that are kind of fringe-ish, or considered cultural arts, instead of just, they’re arts. But also I love doing variety shows, because not only for the audience do I feel like it’s very engaging, but also for performers to be around, that co-mingling and cross-pollination of art forms, and history, it’s very inspiring.”
Hinds said she has been working with Derek Dyer, the executive director of Utah Arts Alliance, for approximately 12 years, and that both he and she loved the idea of bringing a variety show to Salt Lake City. She said performers can apply to take part in a Kiki Cabaret on the Utah Arts Alliance website.
“Everyone is welcome to apply,” she said. “I’ve just been in this community for so long and it’s kind of an integral part of what I do, so it’s kind of a breeze finding really, really talented people in Utah, because we’re kind of up to our ears in them.”
She added: “I love hearing from people years later that their first professional gig was with me. Because you can pick the people that are just ripe, that are just ready, and they just need a little bit of a push, and you put them next to people that have been doing it for years and years and years and they just shine. It’s absolutely brilliant. It’s a chance for all people to get a chance to do what they love, as long as they’re ready.”
She said it is very important to her to pay her performers. “It’s all about supporting your arts community,” she said. “So when you’re coming to Kiki Cabaret, knowing that we are striving to give, especially with the pandemic, and how performance art … the world has just changed, so getting that person-to-person support, and also you can join the live stream, but all of that is going towards supporting artists, which is amazing.”
Hinds also talked about her proudest moments as a performer. “Mostly I’m proud of not shying away from opportunities even when I’m intimidated by them,” she said. “If that was something I could pass on to other people; art is putting yourself out there, in a very vulnerable state, and I think a lot of up-and-coming performers get stuck on trying to be perfect, and trying to deliver the most perfect thing; when I’m like, you’ve just got to be you, do the best that you can do, do all the work you can do, but just come down to realize, take the opportunities as they come.”
Hinds said she is impressed with the Salt Lake arts community and how fast it is growing.
“I’m am absolutely thrilled with the amount of growth Salt Lake has seen, just population-wise and people moving in from other places,” she said. “I think it’s giving us more support in these opportunities to do what the Utah Arts Alliance does best, which is support the movers and shakers; the people that are pushing forward and pushing boundaries, and like really opening up new ways of thinking and new ways of being, and I think that the variety we supply at Kiki Cabaret is going to keep growing, and keep diversity alive in Salt Lake City, and really supporting that idea of, just acceptance, humanity; bring your humanity and let’s celebrate it.”
The next Kiki Cabaret is on Sunday, April 24, and has the theme “A Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.” The show begins at 7 p.m., and tickets are available here.
More information is also available on the Instagram Kiki Cabaret page here.
Guests also have the option of watching the show from home. Hinds mentioned that a future plan for Kiki is that guests will be able to purchase a subscription to the shows, and there will also be a Kiki Cabaret bus in the Utah Pride Parade.
Weber County residents can also attend a weekly pop-up performance night at Ogden’s Own Distillery Side Bar at 615 W. Stockman Way every Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.