Burlesque workshop sassifies students

Hula-La teaches students floor work
Hula-La teaches students floor work

By Gabbie Corral |Staff Writer|

The glamour, glitz and risqué art of burlesque dancing comes to CSUSB.

The Women’s Resource Center in the Santos Manuel Student Union (SMSU) held a workshop on May 7 that taught students the history and evolution of burlesque dancing as well as choreography typically found in modern performances.

“I’ve always liked burlesque. I’ve seen it on TV and I just love the costumes, so joining my friend was fun even though I wasn’t that good at the moves,” said student Carolina Mejia.

Burlesque dancing first originated in Europe during the early 18th century as a form of theatrical entertainment performed primarily by women.

The early performances were much different than the performances we are familiar with today. Burlesque used to mock popular operas and theater plays in a comedic, risqué style that differed from traditional stage traditions.

“Burlesque is much more westernized now and typically loses its popularity when it reaches Italy,” said Hula-La, the Burlesque dancer who hosted the workshop.

Performers used to primarily dance for money and as a profession, but today burlesque dancing is primarily performed for fun and entertainment by women and even men.

According to Hula-La, burlesque is for every type of woman– big, small, short, tall. Many forms of dance require their dancers to look a certain way, but in the world of burlesque, there is no set image that performers must obtain.

The evolved risqué form of entertainment incorporates many different styles of dance into the performances like ballet, jazz and belly dancing. It is a very versatile form of expression that usually incorporates a theme into each act.

“[Burlesque] is very thematic with the music and costumes,” said Hula-La. “As women, we’re always told to stop being dramatic. But in the burlesque world, the more dramatic the performance the better!”

The dancers usually base their act off of the show from the theme of the night. Themes can range from Western to Vegas to wild animals and the performers will shape their act around it, incorporating costumes and props.

Costumes and props are a vital part of the performances and are usually very elaborate, extravagant and can be expensive.

Hula-La has heard of dancers who have spent up to $500 on a costume for a single performance. But she emphasizes the fact that you can do “burlesque on a budget.”

“More affordable costumes can be made, for example, by purchasing a cheap bra from Wal-Mart, adding fringe and rhinestones from Michael’s Crafts and throwing on jewelry from Claire’s,” said Hula-La.

Burlesque dancers are often associated with incorporating a strip-tease into their performance, which is why costuming is so important.

However, burlesque has become much more than the stereotypical provocative scene that has been connected to it for so long. It has evolved into a great form of physical fitness and activity.

Dancers are required to do multiple leg lifts, technical spins and ab workouts in order to provide an entertaining performance for the audience.

“Burlesque is all about finding that inner playful side and finding something that makes you different,” said Hula-La.

One way the dancers find self-expression is by giving themselves a unique, playful name like Hula-La gave herself.

The SMSU Women’s Resource Center will be presenting All That Glitters: Rockin’ Women in Burlesque on May 18 at 6 p.m. in the SMSU Events Center. The event is free for all students.

The show will feature Burlesque dancers like Hula-La, Little Miss Vicious, Jessabelle Thunder and more. All proceeds from the raffles will be donated to the Busted Foundation which supports the fight for breast cancer.

Photos by Gabbie Corral