Forty Elephants burlesque homage in Alberta
Send in the Girls Burlesque in Alberta has a history of blending classic burlesque and theatre in ways that make narrative burlesque performances into something very special. With up to 22 participants - often all onstage at the same time - creating encapsulations of women throughout history, their shows can be both satirical and oddly reverential. Their latest offering, Bust ‘Em Up Burlesque is a reference to the 40 Elephants gang - a women only criminal sorority who had many more than forty members and were famous for swarming into high class shops and stealing everything they could lay their hands on. Because there were so many of them, staff and police could not hope to catch them all and from the mid Victorian era the gang, which drew its name from its Elephant and Castle location, was a thriving success story. By the 1920s it was notorious and the Bust ‘Em Up title relates in part to the fisticuffs, which were commonplace as women in the gang vied for position.
The show runs until 19 March - we wish we could be there!
League of Exotique Dancers - documentary and investiture etiquette
The largest documentary film festival in America is Hot Docs, and its headline film this year will be ‘League of Exotique Dancers’ by Indo-Canadian filmmaker Rama Rau. This latest documentary covers three different activities - the legends of burlesque as they prepare to give a live performance at the Legends of Burlesque Hall of Fame in Vegas, the process of inducting new members into the Burlesque Hall of Fame itself, and exploration of the home lives and personal experience of famous burlesquers away from the stage - an often substantially different lifestyle.
So what does it mean to be an inductee to the Burlesque Hall of Fame? It requires having made a substantial contribution to the art of burlesque, having stood the test of time and having been an example or mentor to the next generation of burlesque performers. Rama Rau creates a powerful and often moving contrast between the golden days of burlesque, the fantastic costumes, Hollywood lifestyles and glamour of the performers in their prime, and the more hardscrabble existence that many burlesque dancers experience as they age.
So that investiture - there must be a dress code, right? Well yes, it turns out there is. Zandra Rhodes famously went knickerless to her Investiture at Buckingham Palace but what does one wear to a Burlesque Hall of Fame investiture in Las Vegas? It turns out that the glamour of an investiture is absolute - we’d recommend our blue feather fascinator as a first step. Costuming is respectful and not garish but corsetry, gloves and excellent hosiery are always evident. Oddly, the ladies are quite restrained about inductee costuming and you could mistake them for any upmarket group of matrons … until you catch the twinkle in their collective eyes!
The Hot docs festival opens on April 28th and features titles from 51 countries. Read More