Monday, March 11, 2013

Show me how you burlesque!

Oh my gosh, almost a month has gone by since our first burlesque gig on Valentine’s day. So as promised, in this post I’m going to ramble a bit about burlesque in general, what I think of it and so on. Beware, wall of text coming right up!

So, what is burlesque? Wikipedia states:

“Burlesque is a literary, dramatic or musical work intended to cause laughter by caricaturing the manner or spirit of serious works, or by ludicrous treatment of their subjects. The word derives from the Italian burlesco, which itself derives from the Italian burla – a joke, ridicule or mockery.

Burlesque overlaps in meaning with caricature, parody and travesty, and, in its theatrical sense, with extravaganza, as presented during the Victorian era. "Burlesque" has been used in English in this literary and theatrical sense since the late 17th century. It has been applied retrospectively to works of Chaucer and Shakespeare and to the Graeco-Roman classics. Contrasting examples of literary burlesque are Alexander Pope's sly The Rape of the Lock and Samuel Butler's irreverent Hudibras. An example of musical burlesque is Richard Strauss's 1890 Burleske for piano and orchestra. Examples of theatrical burlesques include W. S. Gilbert's Robert the Devil and the A. C. Torr – Meyer Lutz shows, including Ruy Blas and the Blasé Roué

A later use of the term, particularly in the United States, refers to performances in a variety show format. These were popular from the 1860s to the 1940s, often in cabarets and clubs, as well as theatres, and featured bawdy comedy and female striptease. Some Hollywood films attempted to recreate the spirit of these performances from the 1930s to the 1960s, or included burlesque-style scenes within dramatic films, such as 1972's Cabaret and 1979's All That Jazz, among others. There has been a resurgence of interest in this format since the 1990s.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but in my opinion nowadays burlesque is a performing art that usually includes comedy and striptease. However, not everybody agree on that! Some say it’s pure comedy with no erotic aspects, others say it’s just striptease with a fancier name. One of the most common opinions is that it’s just a chance for fat chicks to shake some booty too. When I heard that I actually felt quite insulted at first but later I started to notice a seed of truth and here’s why.

I have been a total fan of burlesque for several years. I think I’ve gone to most burlesque events in my city for several years and last year when we decided to form our own little burlesque group and start practicing I felt thrilled. But why? I’ve always felt that burlesque is very empowering. The scene is filled with brave women (and men) who dare to show off their erotic side on stage! And well, let’s face it… for me the most amazing thing has always been the diversity of nearly nude human bodies, beautiful in some very different way that in mainstream media.

So yes, burlesque is a chance for fat chicks to shake some booty. However, the same chance is for all others too. For that shy girl with glasses and body as a twig, or that single mom with deflated breasts, or that goth kid with stretch marks and skin pale as Finnish landscape on winter. In think it is fairly pointless to argue if burlesque is more theater or striptease, that is not important. To me, burlesque is all about embracing our bodies and the “faults” that come with it, and loving ourselves despite (and also because) of them. Most of the people who come to see burlesque (at least here in Finland) are women and I think that the cheer that emerges whenever a piece of clothing hits the floor is not because of progressing nudity, it is a cheer for bravery and also a cheer of relief (“Oh my gosh, that girl in there is just as… normal as me..!”).

Since I started doing burlesque my self confidence has increased so much! I feel more accepting towards my body… Of course I still want to improve it by training and diet but I also want to pamper it (which is fairly new to me). And I’m more forgiving towards myself, too, more allowing. So to me, the whole point of burlesque is to bring joy to people. That means both the audience AND the performer.

Speaking of performance, I think our show was a huge success! So many people came to see us they actually had to close the doors at some point because the bar was so full of people! Haha, the bar management definitely didn’t see that coming! I’m so happy that so many of my friends came to show their support, even though some of them had to leave because of the huge mass of people it really meant the world to me to see them there.

The show went well enough, I made a few mistakes and almost tripped when my heel got stuck to my skirt but I managed to pull it off in the end and I was happy with it. Next time I’ll do even better!

Truth to be told I think I was more nervous about what people, especially my family would think of this new hobby than about the actual performing. I must say that for a while I thought that this would make me a bad daughter, affect my possibilities to find work, etcetera… but then I realized that I personally don’t see anything wrong in doing burlesque (quite the opposite!) and it would be stupid of me to think that if someone else would judge me that persons opinion would be more important than mine own! I’m not perfect and my choices aren’t perhaps the choices that someone else would make, but they are my choices, and I should stick to what I feel to me is the right thing to do!

Below a couple of shots of me during our show, if you’d like to see more pictures of us go check out our Facebook page! ♥

© Pauli Tavasti

© Anniina Holappa

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