Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Humble beginings and Modern Burlesque

I have been involved in theatre for as long as I can remember, the first grand entrance being as a dwarf policeman in the musical “Sweeny Todd”. I was a member of a youth theatre company all through school competed in everything I could get my paws on from Eisteddfods and Shakespeare festivals to Short film competitions and back yard clay-mation.

I clearly remember going to my first burlesque show, and from that day on it has been a little obsession of mine! To see this woman on stage absorbed in the simple task of removing a glove I was breathless. She had the whole audience eating out of the palm of her hand and she had only just walked on stage. With a flick of the wrist and a bump of the hip she tore down any inhibitions remaining in the audience and left a mess of hollering, flush-cheeked and grinning woman and men with a glow and a spice that I still don’t have a name for.

This, I thought to myself, this is what something I might try.

And I did.

Burlesque has grown so much since the original 1950’s strip-tease shows and is now truly becoming a contempory and constantly evolving art form which can be as political and thought-provoking as it is titillating and entertaining.

Burlesque is one of the only performing arts that I know of where the performer has complete creative control of her show from choreography, to costume and set design, to sound design, marketing, scripting, character development and styling. She has 3-5 minutes to engage the audience, win them over, navigate the logistics of corsets and garter removal, entertain, seduce and (something I am still working on) twirl her nipple tassels to high heaven! This whole production is then packed neatly into a vintage suitcase and lugged on teetering heels from show to show.

The Modern burlesquette is a creative and fiercely independent woman. Burlesque is blossoming in every corner of the globe, from New York to Copenhagen, Shanghai to Tasmania. There are so many opportunities for performers, and if there are none I bet your bottom dollar that they will create one for themselves.

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