Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Evolution of an art-form: growing pains

The more politically driven performance art pieces are at the heart and forefront of the neo-burlesque movement, but as the word "burlesque" becomes more mainstream, it also becomes another style of entertainment to become capitalized upon and made corporate.
Just as many people feel that Broadway became corporate and "Disneyfied" and lost its creative soul, there has certainly been a lot of that involved in the burlesque scene for several years. Companies like the "40 Deuce" clubs and even Cirque De Soleil have capitalized on the rise in burlesque's popularity and in doing so have projected a more homogenized, glamourized and less alternative body-positive image than previously presented in the neo-burlesque revival. Since corporations like those have the money and power to project their vision of the term "burlesque" on the mass public, it creates difficulties for the more avant-garde professional burlesque artists to be able to walk the line between getting paid bookings and creating art. Especially in less urban and artistic areas. Simply stated, the audience has now been taught to expect an idea of beauty and style that is not necessarily at the heart of the movement, and performers within the genre have had to acclimate and conform in order to survive as working artists. It's a plateau every art-form crosses as it grows. I have found myself in that same rut as I have been spending more time creating performances I think the audience wants to see, rather than creating the art that I want to express myself. It's interesting to see this topic come up now, as recently through conversations and workshops on new pieces I have noticed a lot of performers on the scene begin to feel the same need to return to their more subversive and social-political roots as performers.
So, if you're discouraged by the influx of traditional burlesque recently, rather than discounting the movement, why not keep your eyes peeled as it emerges from the safety of its current cocoon and takes wing on its next glorious and shimmering form!

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