April 14 2008
If you haven't notice lately the art of the Burlesque show has seen a revitalizaton through out the country. Some of you may not know what Burlesque is. Most people think it is all about a strip tease which it is not.
In the 19th Century, the term "burlesque" was applied to a wide range of comic plays, including non-musicals. Beginning in the 1840s, these works entertained the lower and middle classes in Great Britain and the United States by making fun of (or "burlesquing") the operas, plays and social habits of the upper classes. These shows used comedy and music to challenge the established way of looking at things. Everything from Shakespearean drama to the craze for Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind could inspire a full-length burlesque spoof. On Broadway, the burlesque productions of actor managers William Mitchell, John Brougham and Laura Keene were among Broadway's most popular hits of the mid-19th Century.
By the 1860s, British burlesque relied on the display of shapely, underdressed women to keep audiences interested. In the Victorian age, when proper women went to great lengths to hide their physical form beneath bustles, hoops and frills, the idea of young ladies appearing onstage in tights was a powerful challenge."
When most people think of the shows, it is usually involves a very euro-centric performance, until now. The Trace Magazine blog introduced me to the Brown Girls Burlesque out of NYC.
"Brown Girls Burlesque (BGB) is a collective of women of color dedicated to creating our own reflection in an art form that we have supported and enjoyed but traditionally, has not well-represented people of color. Our mission is to take our rightful place on the stage to celebrate our cultures, sexuality and artistry with humor.... *In case you really need clarification, all self-identified women of African / Black/ Caribbean, Arab, Asian & Pacific Islander, Latina/o, and Native/Indigenous descent."