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IMPRESSIONS: Xana DuMe, the Drag Tap Dancing Queen, at the Triad Theater, NYC

IMPRESSIONS: Xana DuMe, the Drag Tap Dancing Queen, at the Triad Theater, NYC
Robert Johnson

By Robert Johnson
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Published on April 13, 2023
F. Galganni with C. Byrne and N. Wong; photo by Kevin Jackson

Starring: Felipe Galganni as Xana DuMe
Director: Felipe Galganni
Pianist: Helio Alves
Xana Girls: Nicole Wong and Ciara Bryne
Costumers: Rob Lewis and Abraham D. Levy
Guest Artists:  Tallulah Talons and Jackie Ribas

The Triad Theater stage is not a large one, and with a grand piano crammed into an upstage corner, there’s hardly any room left for a girl to move. Luckily Xana DuMe (Felipe Galganni) is not the sort to back away from challenges. Squeezing into the space, she quickly takes command, striking glamorous show-girl poses, warbling songs, and punishing a wooden tap floor with her silvery, size-12 pumps.

Woman in long red wig, heavily made up, wearing a blue midriff top with flounces around the shoulder, blue wristlets, blue high cut underwear wtih a blue ruffled skirt. She is singing and tap dancing in her silver shoes
Felipe Galganni as Xana DuMe singing and tapping; photo by Kevin Jackson

No, this isn’t a typical drag show. Xana DuMe, the Drag Tap Dancing Queen, which closed its too-brief run at the Triad on April 4, has a go-for-broke energy that transcends its archness. The star never drops out of character, but when the dancing becomes hectic she grows eager, delighting in her speed and physicality. Xana is a dancer first, and only secondarily a style-setter and fashion plate.

She is an eyeful, nonetheless, appearing first in a spangled blue costume with a maritime theme. The cut-away skirt ruffles like the ocean, revealing her slim figure and elevator legs. Rhinestone breast-cups dazzle like twin lighthouses, and Xana’s snaky hair threatens to strangle the Florida coastline like a Red Tide. Later, she will exchange this clever outfit for an astonishing pink bustier that encases her in a hard, shiny carapace. Substituting new lyrics for “The Girl from Ipanema,” she wryly sings that when she goes walking “they look at my clothes but not at me.” You can see why.

Drag queen with long red wig dressed in a pink 'swimsuit-like' spangled costume
Felipe Galganni as Xana DuMe; photo by Kevin Jackson

Xanadu, this dancer’s magical place of origin, lies somewhere in Brazil, and Xana has brought that country’s music with her. Beginning demurely, she sinks with a curling movement of her hips, and then produces a flutter of steps, swooning gently as she awakes to “Manhã de Carnaval,” which her fluent and deadpan accompanist, Helio Alves, plays on the piano. “Madalena” brings a broad smile to her face, and she snaps her fingers and claps her hands responding to the more emphatic rhythm with an expression of joy. In “Tin Tin Deo” she is sly and catlike, delicately pawing and scratching the floor. Xana comes unchained, however, in the “Bossa Drag Trio,” a wild and playful exchange among the dancer, the pianist, and singer Jackie Ribas, all performing to the hypnotic “Só Danço Samba” of Antônio Carlos Jobim. Here the space can barely contain her.

All the while, Xana keeps up a comic patter, introducing her backup dancers Nicole Wong and Ciara Byrne, whom she supposedly discovered late one night at Empanada Mama. In between bouts of rhythmic exuberance, Xana sips judiciously from a glass of water---her elaborate costumes don’t allow for bathroom breaks. She answers questions from the audience, and shares intimate details of her private life. Xana recalls dramatic incidents that produced blackouts and traumas, like leaving her cell-phone locked inside a friend’s apartment. She coos like a pigeon. She winks and giggles; and at one point, while chattering about her boyfriend, she releases a long, satisfying fart. Ahhh... such a relief.

Drag queen in red wig and sparkly blue 'maritime-esque' costume with two women back up singers in blue, all gesturing with left hands on left diagonal, elbows bent
Felipe Galganni as Xana DuMe with backup dancers, Ciara Byrne and Nicole Wong; photo by Kevin Jackson

While Xana is off-stage, changing, her associate, the talented Tallulah Talons, entertains us with a burlesque number. Dressed as a Sea Creature, she performs a wriggling strip-tease all the way down to her mottled green skin, toying with a feather boa and spanking herself. This aquatic ecdysiast’s musical tastes run more to industrial rock than to bossa nova. After a breathy rendition of Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer to God” (“I want to fuck you like an animal”), Tallulah volunteers to dry-hump audience members in the splash zone. Then she does.

So much glamour. Xana’s adoring public can’t get enough of it, and by the end all anybody wants is another round.

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