Burlesque dance is dying…can we make it new and fabulous again!?

First off, my moment of star gossip…Dita von Teese filed for divorce from Manson today. Shocker! She’s got a brain, though, so she’ll be okay. Supposedly, that crap-ass actually ditched her out in favor of his booze, and left her alone on Christmas. That’s just ugly. I hope he gets what he deserves. It seems that she’s not asking for spousal support. She’s a better woman than I. 😛

The point of this post, however, is to comment on burlesque. Hearing about the divorce made me think about burlesque dance, and how it’s morphed into something that doesn’t seem to have much substance. Looking at the biggies of today such as Dita Von Teese, Julie Atlas, and Dirty Martini, I’m not wholly convinced of the creative merits of what I see. I think that the predominate resistance to change that I see can make burlesque really tired and boring.

Check out the site G-strings Forever. It’s a smorgasbord of titties, tassles, and g-strings. And this, my friends, is one thing that I have to bring up about nouveau burlesque. One of the grandes dames of burlesque, Dixie Evans, never wore a thong. She wore bikini panties- usually sheer with bead work, fringe, or sequins, but her ass was covered. I’ve been thinking for a bit that wearing a thong for burlesque seems a bit…stripper-ish. Aren’t they trying to avoid that? Where’s the elegance in showing your ass for all and sundry? Leave that for the poll girls.

I also have a bit of an issue with the choreography that I see. Youtube has a veritable mess of burlesque videos, old and new, and…well…I’m just not seeing much originality. The girls these days use the same old music, the same old grinds, the same old, same old. Dita Von Teese is guilty of this as well. I have to say, I got bored after about 4 of the new videos. The girls that I see at some of the events in NYC are boring as well. Many of them can’t dance. Oh, I know, I know…I’m a big meanie. But, it’s true. They’re stiff, unpolished, and just there to get attention and take their tops off for the crowd. It’s not titillating (hee! I said tit).

There’s an art to taking off your clothes. That’s one thing that separates the successful nouveaus from the week-enders. It would help greatly if, while learning and perfecting burlesque technique, people actually took ballet or jazz in order to learn proper placement, carriage, and flow. Professional dancers are just that because they’ve made certain to be well-rounded, versatile artists- not just attention-mongers looking to traipse around on a stage. Sure, it’s easy to capture and and keep a crowd of club-goers interested in your act by getting naked as quickly as possible. Yet, would you rather be remembered for your breasts, or for your sexy moves?

I almost imagine that a great modern burlesque artist would be brave enough to take risks. They would, instead of using Gothy or jazzy big band standards, perhaps use classical or trance music. For costuming, it’d be lovely to see someone wear a business suit with some sharp heels. In other words, if you’re going to do it, be an artist about it! I know that it’s a tribute to the olden days of subtle sexuality and such, but it’s tired already. Take on the task of being elegant and sensual without crossing that line to exotic dancerdom. It would be something really amazing to behold, rather than seeing the same dry routines over and over again.

Now, back to Dita von Teese. I really do think that she’s the same as many…except that she has more expensive costumes, better sets, and a kick-ass website. She was a dancer in her youth, which would explain her smoothness of movement (see, told you.), and also fell in love with lingerie early on. From there, she was a fetish model, and seems to be one of the first to aggressively emulate Bettie Page (now a common rocker girl look). Her biggest break came when she got her Playboy cover, and everyone realized, “Hey! Burlesque is art! Burlesque is cool!” From that, you got a slew of people taking a few signature burlesque moves and stretching it into a five minute routine.

Believe me, I love burlesque, but make it something new, along with the old! I’m going to try and take Jo Weldon’s master classes at the School of Burlesque in NYC. Hopefully, I can use my dance background to create something really cool…and drag some of my dancer girlfriends along for the ride!

 

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~ by isiskali on January 6, 2007.

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