Beautiful and Satirical Burlesque

Burlesque, a word that many associate with sensual striptease, glitter and glamour, revealing outfits and enchanting ladies. While all of these assumptions are true, there’s more than meets the eye. Burlesque offers much more than just surface level beauty. Body positivity, sexual freedom and self expression play an integral role in this performance art. In addition, a sense of satire, comedy and ridiculousness has been prevalent in burlesque since the beginning. Intrigued and wanna know more about burlesque? Let’s dive in!

Affinity Star on stage.

What is Burlesque?

In essence, burlesque is a parody of serious topics in a theatrical manner. The idea is to get a laugh out of people by ridiculing or mocking tough subjects. Like the funny-looking, morphed and humorous depictions of prominent figures in newspapers, burlesque also was a type of caricature. Although it was firstly a literary term, it is also used to describe a type of variety show. 

History of Burlesque

Back in the day, burlesque performers were female dancers who would mix comical adaptations of contemporary issues with sensual and theatrical striptease. It was a largely popular form of entertainment between the 1860s and 1940s. Burlesque events served as a way of relieving stress or blowing off some steam from daily struggles both for the performers and the public. American filmographers of the 1940s were mesmerized by the art and found it fascinating to showcase in Hollywood movies, thus garnering more widespread interest in the craft. The resurgence of interest for burlesque became apparent in the 90s and was re-popularized by talented women like Julie Atlas Muz and Dita von Teese, now deemed the ‘Queen of Burlesque’.

Honey Ginger on stage.

Burlesque in the 21st Century

Contemporary burlesque is a fusion of a wide array of different types of stage entertainment, taking varying forms and displaying more nuance than ever before. Performances can include striptease, dance, singing, political and/or comically absurd humour, handmade and unique costumes, theatrical acting, drag and so much more. It is also commonplace to honour the Golden Age and time-honored burlesque dancers by new performers. Additionally, nowadays men can take the stage and perform boylesque, a version of the art lead by a male performer. Freedom of expression, assertive bodily and sexual self confidence plays a huge role in today’s burlesque scene, where people are welcome to just be themselves on stage. If you want to see these performances for yourself, then many burlesque evenings and festivals take place around the United States, Czech Republic, Finland and France. But those intrigued can also get acquainted and experience the performance art during various Fringe festivals across the world. And did you know Estonia also has a Burlesque agency?

What’s Estonia got to do with Burlesque?

Estonia has a captivating and fascinating burlesque scene that has taken the mission to introduce and showcase this unique artform to the localers. Burlesque Estonia is a non-profit organisation that comprises local talents of the art that can be booked for any venue or private event. Furthermore, they can host introductory workshops for bachelorette parties and even give weekly burlesque training lessons. Performers include Affinity Starr, Foxy Suzy, Katarina von Schatz, Hot Blade, Titi de Sweetie, Eeben Früülep, Wickler Wild, Thornback Rosie and even some stage kittens. If you want to see these lovely ladies and gentlemen on stage, then you can check out their shows here in Heldeke, Uus Laine or in other venues around Estonia. To see where they’re coming next, check out their Facebook Page!

Burlesque Estonia dancers on stage.

Burlesque in Heldeke!

Heldeke! Burlesque is a monthly, three-day event series where a selection of Estonian performers take the stage and demonstrate their enchanting acts. More often than not, guest performers from around the world also venture out to our parts and display their talents. It’s a mix of comedy, tease, flirt and glamour, all served with boas, tassels and ribbons. An unforgettable experience is guaranteed!

Every year from the 18th of August until the 18th of September, short performance festival Tallinn Fringe takes place in various venues across the capital, including Heldeke! It is a multi-genre festival encompassing music, circus, comedy and any type of performance genre you can think of. Burlesque shows are one of the most beloved, intriguing and sought-after performances to come and see. Not only do our local performers take part and give shows, but also troupes from New York to Iceland! Keep your eyes peeled for when the official program comes out to book a ticket for a burlesque event during Tallinn Fringe!

All in all, burlesque is an incredible performance art where people can openly be themselves through various forms of expression. Displaying disagreement towards political movements, showcasing physical self-irony or simply giving a memorable and erotic performance, burlesque encompasses it all. To see when the next performances take place in Heldeke, check out our homepage calendar, Facebook page or Fienta. Cheers!