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What is burlesque dancing? Brief history and best dancers ever

Over the past ten years, burlesque dance has grown in popularity thanks to its originality and boldness.

But a lot of people are still confused about what burlesque is nowadays. We'll now break down this distinctive form of dance for you. Let’s start.

What is burlesque dancing?

Burlesque is a style of dancing that uses theatrical aspects to give the artists on stage more force. It's a narrative technique that also incorporates sarcasm and comedy.

Many people who haven't attended a burlesque show mistakenly believe it to be a spectacle with female strippers dancing. Burlesque, however, is more of a provocative musical act or cabaret-style variety show.

It leaves more to the imagination than stripping does. This is because the actors who perform on stage are never entirely naked.

What is burlesque dancing?

Burlesque history

The Italian word "burla" is the root of the word "burlesque." Burla means humor or joke in Italian, hence this dance style's comical character. Because it mocks its themes by humorously portraying them, it belongs to the literary genre of satire. Because of this, a parody is a form of burlesque.

The American burlesque act is what results from fusing the word's literary connotation with the sensuality and empowerment of dance.

Burlesque history

In the late 1800s, American burlesque first appeared on the scene. It was once perceived as a variety program with perfectly shaped, ill-dressed ladies. Because they would mock upper-class social customs, these ladies were seen as brave.

By the 20th century, musical theater elements had been incorporated into the style. As a result, during the 1920s and 1930s, it began to resemble what we would see at a modern-day concert, which includes satire, singing, and dancing.

This aggressive and comic dance started to decline after the 1940s arrived. The United States had just emerged from the Great Depression when it joined World War II. It goes without saying that folks weren't thinking about parodic cabaret acts.

The movie "Burlesque" came out in 2010 and brought back to the world what it had been missing. The movie featured Cher and Christina Aguilera, two well-known singers and performers. The roles they took on provided a realistic picture of what burlesque dance is today: a fun, powerful outlet for female entertainment.

Famous burlesque dancers

Dita Von Teese

Dita Von Teese has had such an impact that many people refer to her as the "Queen of Burlesque”.

Dita initially intended to train as a classical ballerina. But when she went to a strip club for the first time at age 19, she was "blown away" by how unoriginal the routines were. She then transformed into a lady on a mission, determined to transform the exotic dance industry.

Dita Von Teese rose to prominence as a burlesque legend. When Dita reaches the stage, her vintage outfits and distinctively painted eyes further captivate the crowd.

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker must be the most prominent of the several burlesque luminaries from the 1920s whose names are recorded in history. The majority of Josephine's works focused on France and its capital, Paris, despite the fact that she was born in America but subsequently moved there and "fell in love" with the country.

Even from the beginning of her career, Josephine had a huge fan base among concertgoers. Josephine's shows at the prestigious Paris cabaret venue Folies Bergère were frequently sold out.

Josephine's outfit, which consisted of a short skirt fashioned of fake bananas and jewelry, became synonymous with the Jazz Age and the 1920s.

Isaiah Esquire

Isaiah, who goes by the nickname "Glamazon," draws attention to himself as soon as he enters the room.

His choreography combines a variety of dance genres, including drag, burlesque, and contortion. This, together with a unique temperament that is both emotional and vivacious, readily makes him a noteworthy performer in the burlesque scene.

From the US to Finland to Jamaica, Isaiah has performed in venues all around the world.

Jean Idelle

The first black exotic fan dancer was Jean Idelle, also known as "Sepia Sally Rand." At the age of 20, Jean was seen by a Broadway talent agency, which launched her career. She had some instruction from a fan dance choreographer and demonstrated a special talent for the line of work.

Amazingly, Jean played at white-only clubs and did all of this while segregation was still at its worst. Long before the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Jean's hypnotizing choreography and beautiful feather fans were able to dissolve racial barriers.

Perle Noire

Perle Noire doesn't have a stage persona, unlike other well-known burlesque performers. According to one interview, she conducts herself outside of the stagelight in much the same manner as she does on it, including how she speaks, behaves, and dresses.

Her vibrant and endearing theatrical character is genuine. Because of this, in addition to being a well-known performer on a global scale, she has had great success mentoring aspiring dancers at her own dance company, the House of Noire.

Benefits of burlesque dancing

Is healthy

In contrast to going to the gym, burlesque is a fun and inventive kind of exercise. Burlesque routines necessitate the use of numerous body parts, so learning and practicing one necessitates this. Dancing in heels may help you develop stronger core muscles throughout your body, develop your calves and legs, and improve your cardiovascular fitness.

Additionally, dancing burlesque is a fantastic way to maintain your mental and physical wellness. You may learn about body respect and self-love in burlesque, which have a lot of positive effects on your general welfare.

Is healthy

You gain confidence

You will gain greater consciousness since burlesque dance emphasizes body positivity and self-love.

Alter egos and personas are frequently used by burlesque performers as a means of self-expression. Your burlesque dance coach can thus assist you in incorporating this into your routine, which will therefore enable you to express yourself.

You learn new skills

You can learn something enjoyable and novel with a group of like-minded people by signing up for a burlesque class.

Although you might feel apprehensive at first, burlesque dancers are trained professionals who are skilled at encouraging people to accept themselves.

You don't need previous dance experience or any other background to study burlesque. Just a desire to experiment and have fun while doing so.

Is 100% inclusive

Everybody is welcome to participate in burlesque dance, regardless of size, shape, or gender.

Is 100% inclusive

Burlesque is also a great way to practice self-love and appreciate your body and all that it is capable of. Men may also study burlesque, so it's not just ladies who can enjoy performing it.

The main theme of burlesque is to embrace your body, regardless of how it looks. Consequently, loving your body will be a major focus of a burlesque lesson.

What is burlesque dancing - Conclusion

We hope that now you have a better understanding of what burlesque dancing is, and if you are on the fence about trying it or not, don't be. Just give it a shot and see for yourself how you can profit from this dance genre that isn't expected to slow down anytime soon.

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Written by CalypsoRoom Editorial Team
The CalypsoRoom Editorial Team is a skilled and diverse group of writers, researchers, and industry specialists who have access to Calypso's data and information in order to give you broad knowledge about the music industry as well as helpful advice to help you manage your music and dancing career.

Updated January 2023


What is burlesque dancing? Brief history and best dancers ever

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