Adelaide Fringe Review – A Deli Burlesque

What is burlesque? What is neo-burlesque? Where do allied performing arts interface and intersect with either, or both?.

Circus. Cabaret. Vaudeville. Show Girl/Boy. Dance. Physical Theatre.

Why am I asking?

A Deli Burlesque has thrown up some challenges to me – about what I expected to see, versus what I saw.  Performers Emmaline Macartney and Gemma Falk presented a series of vignettes that straddled a number of genres, some sitting within traditional territory, others less so. They themselves describe it as a show of cross-pollination. And it is only natural, both are devotees and proficient in no small number of disciplines. As the late Robert A Heinlein wrote “Specialisation is for insects”.

Just to cover a selection of the performances

“Babes on Bikes” was a Newton-Johnesque routine on exercise bikes that exuded 80’s jazzercise glam, but at the same time was a little open ended as to the intended narrative.

“Bride” was a solo piece by Gemma Falk that mixed mime and dance in a story arc of the descent into deadening domesticity often hidden beneath the happy billows of the wedding gown.

“The Underwater Hula-Rena” was a standout hoop routine by Emmaline Macartney that made this prop an aquatic metaphor to great effect.

There was more than a cursory nod to the traditional arts, with an elegant and sensual “Lady Bird Fan Dance” by Ms Falk, that was a dancing wildlife documentary complete with David Attenborough commentary.

Emmaline’s most striking physical theatre piece, albeit minimalist, also invoked something of the sensuality of burlesque. Titled “MADE (Pandora is…)” , like a forest dryad she emerged from the foliage and sprouted into a natural bloom, counterbalanced by the eventual decay and decomposition, a return to the metaphorical humus. It was quite a powerful performance, and again seemed to achieve their lofty aims of developing a neo-burlesque style that draws from very different performance traditions.

Because what they are doing is so new, I think there may be some expecting more traditional fare who might react negatively to what was performed. But I think you need to let it incubate a bit, question your own preconceptions and biases, and question whether burlesque is really a museum exhibit or a tradition under active evolution.

Remaining performances are sold out but keep these two on your memory list – I suspect there will be further Dawinian transformation in Fringe Festivals to come.

Jonathan Mar 6th 2010 10:25 am Burlesque,Culture,Events,News,People,Reviews No Comments yet Trackback URI

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