South Africa: The Healing Power of Burlesque


Burlesque has been around for centuries and yet it is constantly in flux, taking on new meaning one nipple-pasty at a time. What makes the contemporary niche of burlesque so special is arguably that it is not so much for the audience that the performers perform, but for themselves. Which begs the question, is burlesque a form of therapy?

When we think of burlesque, we often think of a striptease. In actuality the art form is so much more than that. What arguably sets the humorous performance art apart is that, at least in the case of Cape Town's Rouge Revue, it is not for the male gaze, but for the performers to celebrate their femininity.

The show begins with an introduction from the Headmistress, dressed to the nines and endowed with a flute of champagne. From the get-go the audience is told that photographs are not allowed. This is so that each performer can have full autonomy over their bodies in that moment, able to withdraw consent if they please.

The Headmistress, Lady Magnolia aka Tenille Lindeque, precedes the show with a quote about loving one's body, followed by the very true fact that this space is one of...

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