it’s burlesque, baby…

20090917 I’ve been a little quiet on the blog front lately, while I’ve been tending to other creative projects (and adjusting to the demands of full-time French school). One of the fruits of my labour is this cover story in Hour, a Montréal arts and entertainment weekly. I had the pleasure of  talking to Scarlett James, organizer of the first annual Montréal Burlesque Festival, which starts today and runs until Sept 20. While researching the story, I was surprised to discover that burlesque faces some of the same challenges as yoga ~ tradition vs evolution, commercialization, hybridization, and the risk of being “dumbed down” as the art form becomes more mainstream. I’ll have more to say about that later… in the meantime, you can expect some kind of recap of the festival, since I’ll be checking out some of the gala events and participating in workshops and drinking martinis all weekend. Glitter and tassels and feathers, oh my!

Read about my brief flirtation with burlesque.

  1. Believe it or not, I found myself at a burlesque show in Milwaukee quite by accident!

    My son Sam, a NY guitarist, was on tour with a country band from D.C. that was booked before and after a Burlesque show called “Alley Cat Revue” at the Stonefly Brewery.

    They used the musicians as prop for their comedy routines! It was very entertaining.

    Bob Weisenberg

    • Bob, I love this story. I think it’s great that you unexpectedly found yourself at a burlesque show in Milwaukee. LOL!

  2. I was under the impression that the current burlesque revival is kind of a response to the way that burlesque was dumbed down to the point of being unrecognizable a long time ago–i.e. strip joints, which, from what I understand, still had comedians and decent live music as recently as the 60’s (Carlos Santana, Jan Hammer, loads of major jazz musicians started out playing behind strippers). So, perhaps it’s something that simply needs to be renewed periodically…

    • Hmmm… yes and no. I’m no expert, but I think the burlesque revival is based in something a little more complicated. My feeling is that it started in the mid-90s as a response to second wave feminism (which can be anti-sex and repressive) and a dominant culture which tells women that their bodies must look a certain way. At the heart of the neo-burlesque movement, I feel, is a celebration of female sexuality and bodies.

      So the way I see it, it’s not so much a response to what burlesque became, but how our culture interprets sexuality. Which always needs to be renewed periodically…

  3. Hey, congrats Row-Z. It’s a good article.

    A question, are there any burlesque dancers with less Roller Derby names? Like maybe even single names, a la Brazilian soccer stars? Might be the wave of the future….

    • lol, “less roller derby names!” there are a lot of similarities between roller derby names and burlesque names. i’ll keep my eyes open for single named burlesque starts… at the moment, none come to mind.