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Life & Work with Jade Bills

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jade Bills. 

Jade, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I’ve loved to perform and dance for as long as I can remember. I used to force my friends to let me dress them up and teach them dance routines. When I say that I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do back then, they tell me “You ALWAYS knew what you were going to do!” And we laugh because I now do exactly what I used to make them do. 

I went to SCAD for Performing Arts & Dance and while I was there, I started my Modern Burlesque Cabaret/ Performance Troupe, The Downtown Delilahs. I was particularly fascinated with vaudeville, cabaret & burlesque when I studied Dance History. I was inspired to take my favorite elements of those styles and combine them with modern costume, modern music, and modern dance styles. We have our home base Cabaret theater inside a private speakeasy called, The House of Mata Hari. The venue itself is intentionally off the beaten path and unique, for some it’s even a little hard to find. Even our theater is hidden behind a secret door inside the speakeasy! We’ve been performing at this venue consistently since 2014 and we are so proud to call Mata Hari our home. This year we were also voted Best Performance Troupe and Best Theater Director by the readers of Connect Magazine. 

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
I took a deep breath when beginning this answer because I don’t even know where to start! It hasn’t been a smooth road, to say the least. Just like anyone else with a dream, I’ve gone to extremes to make things happen the way I want them to happen. Of course, there have been too many sleepless nights to count, and so many tears shed along the way, so many sacrifices made. But I suppose that’s a given! 

It’s hard to pinpoint one answer but I think the hardest thing I’ve done is teach myself things like screen printing (for our merchandise) and lighting design & tech. When I wanted things to happen, but couldn’t afford a professional to make them happen, I just learned how to do them myself. Thank goodness for YouTube! We started our performances with regular bulb house lights and one light switch on the wall. Over time our production has grown to something I can say I am so proud of! We’ve added so many lights & tricks to our venue, I think people are always pleasantly surprised when the lights go down…and the show really starts! 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I’m the Director, Choreographer, Costumer, Lighting & Set Designer for a Modern Burlesque Cabaret and The Downtown Delilahs performance troupe. 

I specialize in dance and choreography but over the years I think I’m learning that Directing & Costumes may be fighting for that spot. We’re known for taking the vintage styles of cabaret & burlesque and mixing them with a modern twist! We perform flirtatious dance numbers covered in feathers, rhinestones & pearls! 

I’m proud of the places we’ve been featured. We’ve been on national tv multiple times and performed for many famous faces! We’ve been featured in The NY Times & The Travel Channel. I’d say I’m pretty proud of that! 

But what I’m most proud of is how far we’ve come. Every time I do something I aim that it is better than the thing I did before. I never settle and I never give up. No matter what! If I could see what we are doing now in 2014, I don’t think I would’ve believed it. My team is full of professional, kind, and creative people. And together we have created something that brings me to tears on some nights, just watching it! 

Who else deserves credit in your story?
The credit goes to my parents, my husband, and my team, that’s for sure! 

When I thought I could only go to college for a “real job” my parents were the ones that told me, my passion could be a real job. They supported me and also sent me to college for what I really loved to do. Both of my parents are entrepreneurs and because of this, they have been able to give me the best advice and support. 

My mom is there for me whether I’m frustrated about costumes or lights (and anything in between) and she always reminds me that all I have to do is, just finish, just get it done. I’ve watched her do everything herself since I was a little girl. If she wanted something to happen, she made it happen. That is why I have that exact trait in me. 

My Dad always told me how important it is to do something I love. He always told me, “One day it will still be a job. So, make sure you love it.” And boy, was he right! I have to tell myself that on the hard days! 

My husband is, and has always been, so supportive of my job and understands how much of my time it takes. He’s also behind me pushing me and supporting me to do my best. I also want to thank my kids, London & River, for pushing and inspiring me to do my absolute best!

Last, but most certainly not least, my team deserves all the credit in the world! Mostly for putting up with me but also for creating a work environment that seems more like fun than work. They deserve credit for their professionalism, consistency, and in general, overall amazingness. 

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Image Credits
Sam Owens

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1 Comment

  1. Linda

    November 18, 2021 at 8:33 am

    Extremely talented with determination the likes of which I’ve never seen. Great personality with genuine concern for other people as well, a rare commodity in the entertainment field. She is truly unique and refreshing!

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