Burlesque, the theatrical blend of extravagance, satire, dance, and sensuality, has been entertaining thousands since the 19th century. This empowering art form is renowned for celebrating the human body and pushing societal norms while bringing comedic joy to all. Today, we are going to discuss the evolution of burlesque and how it started as a playful and exaggerated parody and slowly spread all over the globe, becoming the fusion of dance, comedy, costume, and creativity that we all love today.
Burlesque: through the eras
Classical Burlesque (Late 16th Century - Early 20th Century) – Burlesque began in Italy during the 16th century and gradually spread throughout Europe. The shows relied on multiple props, extravagant costumes, and exaggerated masks to enhance the audience's experience. The show would typically follow the order of a Burla (mockery), then into a comedic break, and lead into music, dance, and other classical forms. The central performer was known as the burlesque queen, whose provocative routines titillated and entertained the audience.
Golden Age of Burlesque (1920s - 1950s) – This was when Burlesque reached its height in popularity, and theatres began to open all over. From the famous striptease dancing of Gypsy Rose Lee to the feather routines of Sally Rand, popular burlesque entertainers were popping up everywhere. This era saw burlesque incorporate traditional vaudeville and comedic routines infused with elaborate sets, live music, and increasingly sophisticated performances. This is where the art form became more polished than ever before.
Decline and Resurgence (1960s - 1990s) – During this time, the popularity of burlesque began to decline due to shifts in societal norms and other forms of entertainment taking prominence. However, during the 1990s, a desire to reclaim the empowerment burlesque brings to its performers and audiences caused a resurgence of interest. This saw the rise of a regenerated form of burlesque that was diverse and inclusive, welcoming performers of various backgrounds and celebrating their differences.
Modern Burlesque (the 2000s - Present) – Throughout the 21st century, we have experienced an extraordinarily vibrant revival, celebrating a fusion of traditional burlesque and contemporary creativity. Modern burlesque comes in a vast spectrum of styles and routines, from classic and glamorous performances to politically charged avant-garde acts. Burlesque is now a celebration of diversity that challenges body norms and provides an incredible platform for all-inclusive self-expression.
Want to Delve Deeper?
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