Burlesque beats the blues
The dance form is good for your body and soul and is a huge amount of fun, writes BIANCA COLEMAN
ONE OF the best things I have done this year is take up burlesque classes. It helps women – and men – feel sexy and glamorous and I’ve made some wonderful new friends.
But as the puzzled Uber drivers always ask me when they pick me up after class, “What is burlesque?” It’s more performance art than dancing, which is useful for someone with two left feet, although there are choreographed routines to learn. It’s fun and cheeky and sexy and, yes, most of the performers will remove items of clothing, but it’s not only about stripping. It’s less about revealing and more about choosing what you conceal.
Classy, seductive and containing a substantial comedic element a lot of the time, burlesque is theatrical as dancers develop characters, personas and costumes. It’s feather boas, high heels, glitter, stockings, gloves, bumps, grinds, and struts. And if you want to find out what it’s all about you need to diarise next Saturday for the second Grand Exhibition.
Besides a spectacular show featuring solo and troupe performances by nearly 50 lovely ladies (and one man), the event will have a market where you can shop for frills and finery, food vendors and a bar. All funds raised go directly to Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust.
“I personally know far too many women who have been victims of rape, sexual abuse and assault. Many women live in constant fear of attack and I believe burlesque is the ideal medium for women to take back their power and autonomy over their bodies,” said Tenille Lindeque-Joshua aka Lady Magnolia, who conceptualised the event.
“As burlesque dancers, we celebrate the beauty and strength of our bodies and our sexuality and I feel that it is our duty to try to extend that celebration beyond our immediate community.”
Lady Magnolia also hosts the Cape Town leg of World Belly Dance Day, which has raised more than R120 000 for charity over the last eight years. Inspired by this global event, the intention is to unite burlesque dancers around the world, and celebrate burlesque on the first weekend in August annually.
The first Grand Exhibition events took place in Cape Town and Johannesburg last year and together raised more than R48 000 for Rape Crisis and the Breast Health Foundation. This year they hope to equal or better those figures.
“Burlesque is now at that point where the community is just starting to get big enough to create an event like this,” said Lady Magnolia. “Apart from raising funds it can bring everybody together. Because it’s a lot of different burlesque performers, we also reach a wider audience as each of them has their followers.”
Upon arrival, you will first walk through the market. There will be tables which you can claim to sit down for something to eat and drink and from which you can also watch the show. “Burlesque works best when people feel like they can get involved,” said Lady Magnolia. In addition there will be theatre seating and a balcony for your viewing pleasure. Get there early for a good spot as seating is unreserved.
Artists working in different media who use burlesque as an inspiration for their work will be exhibiting and 10 of these pieces will be auctioned (again, money raised goes to Rape Crisis). There will be an opportunity to have your portrait done in burlesque style. Besides all the burlesque accoutrements your heart desires, you’ll also be able to buy pamper products like shimmery body lotions.
“Once everyone is seated, the show will begin with Pique-aboo electro swing band to set the tone and warm everyone up. Then there are between 40 and 50 performers. The big groups are Black Orchid and the Rouge Revue and Dance Studio Cape Town will be making their burlesque debut,” said Lady Magnolia. “And then a number of solo artists including Scar-lit Hearts, Kitty Fay who has a kind of gothic slant and Dear James from Black Orchid who will be the only male.” The Grand Exhibition – An international Burlesque Benefit takes place on Saturday at City Bowl Market on Hope, 14 Hope Street, Gardens.
Doors open at 7pm. Show starts at 8pm and tickets are R150 through Quicket, where you also have the opportunity to make an additional donation to Rape Crisis as well as buy posters and lucky draw tickets to win one of two fabulous hampers filled with goodies valued at nearly R2 000.
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to www.therougerevue.co.za.
Baby Ray from the Rouge Revue Burlesque Company in full stride.
Black Orchid Burlesque troupe.