I must admit, I’ve learned a lot from the research carried out on this one.
Burlesque, derived from the Italian word “burlesco” which in turn is derived from the word “burla”, literally means
ridicule, mockery or a joke. In fact, Burlesque was used in theatrical and musical works to cause laughter by caricaturing the essence of serious works or by mocking their subjects. Until the late 17th century, Burlesque was used under this context and applied on several famous works including works by Chaucer and Shakespeare to mention a couple.
Entering into the Victorian era, Burlesque had become popular in London theaters between the 1830s and the 1890s. Following their footsteps, shows were entirely focused to promote a comical experience. In London, the Burlesque went out of fashion at the end of the 19th century and was quickly replaced by the Edwardian musical comedy.
In 1840, during the flourishing days of fame in London, the English Burlesque spread its roots in New York. British Burlesque was only popularized in 1868 when Lydia Thompson and the “British Blondes” staged their first show in New York. Whilst in London the Burlesque era approached to an end, the American style flourished. As expected by the Americans (you naughty pervs!), the shows were increasingly focused on female nudity.
As expected, the shift from the old classical Burlesque to actual strip tease shows was very gradual. At first, soubrettes would appear showing off their figures whilst singing and dancing. Whilst some were less attractive than the others, they compensated by appearing in elaborate stage costumes. The singing and dancing soubrettes were quickly replaced by the strippers. By 1932, there were already 150 strip principals around the US. By the late 1930s, Burlesque shows would have at least six strippers on stage with one or two comics and a master of ceremonies.
No respected article about Burlesque can avoid talking about the pioneer in the early 1990s, Dita Von Teese. Dubbed as the Queen of Burlesque, Dita began performing in 1992. She helped revive the Burlesque arts which have lost all their fame in the previous years. Dita described her performances as putting the tease back into the striptease with long, elaborate dancing routines with props and characters inspired mostly by musicals from the 30s and 40s. Amongst her shows, the most memorable were the one which featured a giant martini glass and her feather dance inspired by the Burlesque dancer Sally Rand, which featured the world’s largest feather fan which is now on display in Hollywood’s Sex Museum.
Recently, the Burlesque style is also reviving in Malta. I attended their first show during The Vampire Renessaince held at Remedy. Impressed with their show, I was interested to get to know more about it. Asking around (as usual) to get information, I had the opportunity to talk with Marianne Galea. Marianne is the founder of the Vampyrazz Showgirls, a dance troupe which specialises in Burlesque dance routines amongst other forms of dancing.
The Burlesque style taught by Marianne has nothing to do with the American style I talked about before. This kind of Burlesque is more aligned with the Cabaret style which involves sexy costumes and stylish dancing.
We don’t do any stripping of any kind, not like abroad. This I stress a lot in Malta
Marianne teaches the dancers to empower their femininity, to bring out their inner and outer beauty via routines of sensual poses and movements.
We don’t do any vulgar dancing or expose intimate parts of our bodies
Marianne continues to explain how men can learn to see a woman differently through her dancing. It’s intended to help men appreciate the beauty of a woman dancing in a stylish, elegant way without the use of sexual means. Marianne’s Burlesque style of dancing is influenced a lot from the movie Burlesque of Cher & Christina Aguilera.
It’s my typical type of Burlesque. Very sexy & Cabaret type without having women taking off clothes & ending up half naked on stage.
Their next show will be held on Halloween Night on Thursday October 31st at The Hades Halloween Massacre where the Rejects crew are gonna be the official photographers for the event. So don’t be shy join us for some meet and greet. We have planned some cool costumes for the event.
You can also follow Marianne and the troupe on their official Vampyrazz Showgirls Facebook page:
We thought it would be nice to show you a couple of songs Marianne teaches to her students, which are also performed during shows. These are both taken from the movie Burlesque. This might help you grasp more the concept of the Maltese Burlesque.
I’ll definitely continue to follow and see how this art will further evolve on our local scene. Stay tuned and keep on attending such events to help in the evolving.