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Burlesque is just not cricket!


Cricket Dinner BurlesqueWestern Australian Cricket Association is a very straight laced organisation with an extremely strict dress code, so it was a surprise to many members, and indeed non-members, when photographs of its black tie awards dinner were published online. They showed  a burlesque dancer, wearing nothing more than a gold-string, splashing around in a martini glass.


More than 800 guests attended the dinner and it seemed most of them were ‘blindsided’ by the dance whilst many more called into a radio station to express their shock and disgust at the cabaret show. Burlesque aficionados might be raising their eyebrows at another matter … the martini glass is known to be the hallmark act of Dita Von Teese and while there’s no such thing as a trademark for a burlesque performance, it’s often considered in poor taste to ‘hijack’ another burlesquer’s act.

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Posted By Victoria Barber

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. 

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Posted By Victoria Barber

Bestival and the FT make rather unusual bedfellows - and when the common factor is burlesque, you can bet the bed is large, pink and feathered! So this week’s news shows just how pervasive and adaptable burlesque is, and has always been.


Festival barnstormers


The four day Bestival on the Isle of Wight has become one of the UK’s premiere music festivals in

the past decade and this year one of the show stopping acts included is going to be Lucha VaVOOM which will play the Big Top stage. Featuring a blend of Mexican wrestling (Lucha Libre) and Buxoticas - burlesque acts ranging from raunchy to ridiculous - in between each wrestling bout, this is the most full-on spectacular including trapeze acts and incredible choreographed ‘wrestling’. We’re particularly looking forward to Hula Hooping burlesque artist Karis whose act is definitely both erotic and athletic. The commentary in Lucha VaVOOM alone, is worth the entry price!

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Posted By Victoria Barber

For some reason it surprises people that those in the burlesque industry don’t spend their entire lives with pasties glued to their nipples, or in a spangled top hat and tails. So a Birmingham local paper has run a story about Samantha Hastings, from Nuneaton, who’s both part of the Disneyland Paris spring show and a burlesque performer.


What? Why is this news? Like most burlesque performers she’s obviously talented (having attended the Italia Conti and the London School of Musical Theatre) so why wouldn’t Disneyland Paris hire her? And when she’s not working for them, what could be more natural than to put in some time with a burlesque troupe, in this case The Folly Mixtures?


It really shouldn’t be a surprise that burlesque performers who have to be able to dance, often to sing and to deliver great comedy are multi-talented. It’s just a little bit more of that old-fashioned prejudice that separates burlesque from the other performing arts.

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Posted By Victoria Barber

Provocation or marginalisation - university burlesque challenge


Burlesque has always been provocative - disturbing the comfortable could be described as its job description!  However, Northwestern University students appear to have an interesting edge on this  feature - they’ve complained that the fourth Annual NU Burlesque show is not inclusive enough.


Apparently, when students auditioned for solos, duets and trio performances, the feeling was that the choices weren’t diverse enough and that ‘marginalized experiences were not sufficiently represented in the selected acts, reported The Daily Northwestern, the Northwestern and Evanston newspaper.


Jean HarlowOne commentator has pointed out that the role of burlesque was one of empowerment, and of challenging censorship related to race, colour, gender and size. The radical nature of burlesque both provokes and threatens the status quo, which makes it a complex issue to navigate. The other part of burlesque is the natural process of selection - good artists make it through, less good ones get to go away, lick their wounds and learn to improve (or quit and do something else) and this appears it might be one of those times where the ‘real’ world of auditions and the heightened political awareness of campus politics has come into sharp conflict.

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Posted By Victoria Barber

High culture burlesque for Valentine’s Day


Valentine’s Day - just about the biggest day of the year for love, romance and burlesque … and anthropological research! The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (Penn Museum) is offering an interesting exhibition SEX: A History in 30 Objects.


For adults only, on Wednesday 17th February there’s “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” with a gallery of Ancient Lust and a burlesque show by Philadelphia Burlesque Festival! Now we’ve seen burlesque in some pretty special places but never, ever in a museum … what an amazing idea!

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Posted By Victoria Barber