The band had started to play and my heart was racing with nervous excitement. I had performed several times before but never like this. There was no turning back now, and so on cue I took my very first step on stage as Trixie Minx the tassel twirler. With the beat of the music and applause of the crowd I danced until my costume slowly stripped away to a pair of sparkling red pasties and panties. It was then like so many before me I fell in love with Burlesque: the art of tease.
What is burlesque?
The etymology of burlesque comes from the Spanish word burla meaning to joke. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines burlesque as “theatrical entertainment…comic skits, and sometimes striptease acts”. This is all important information to understanding burlesque but what does it mean? Due to its rich history burlesque means many things to different people. According to anatomyofburlesque.com the earliest known performance was in 411BC in Aristophanes’ Lystistrata where women used their sex appeal to rebel against war. Some modern day burlesque artists use it as a medium to express opinions on current events. However, burlesque primarily is performed for the purpose of entertainment. To me and many others it is the Art of Tease: a form of dance where the performer uses wit and charm through movement to engage the audience.
Prior to my career in burlesque I was a classical ballet
dancer. I trained and performed throughout the US until I broke my ankle
leaving me unable to go on pointe. With much heartache I resigned myself to
stop dancing. Not long after a move to
Burlesque has given me a new outlook on performing. I sincerely believe I have always been Trixie but just never knew quite how to express myself. In ballet I was often told to tone it down with regards to my personality. My friends would laugh when I played the ditzy goof and ridicule me for behaving in a ridiculous manner. As Trixie I perform almost exclusively comic strip tease. Every choreographed turn ends with a wink that makes you laugh. I love using dance technique to create a story that encourages the observer to think and enjoy the playfulness between them and the performer. With this method the burlesque audience is never passive but as active as the dancer on stage.
Last year I founded the Fleur de Tease Burlesque Revue. I wanted to bring back what I considered to be the highlight of burlesque history, a true vaudeville show where the focus was on the art of the performance not the nudity of the dancer. The Fleur de Tease cast consists of dancers, magicians, comedians, fire eaters, and trapeze artists who all come together to create a unique entertainment experience that delights the senses. Last season we were the entertainment for the New Orleans Ballet Association and for the Contemporary Arts Center fundraisers and this season we are hoping to continue contributing to the arts community.
Dance is an ephemeral art and it is the people who perform and attend the shows that keep it alive. As Trixie Minx I hope to keep burlesque bumping and grinding here in New Orleans for a long time to come.
Trixie Minx is a member of the Fleur de Tease Burlesque Revue, based in New Orleans. We thank her for taking the time from the troupe's busy performing schedule to write for Root Magazine.
All images courtesy of Fleur de Tease