Burlesque show leaves little to the desires

The word "burlesque" implies partaking in extremely naughty activities. But burlesque isn't just a strip show; it's meant to be more tasteful. For The Provocateurs, however, that wasn't exactly the case.


Last Wednesday night, Nov. 24, Club Eleven of West Hollywood hosted The Provocateurs for an evening of burlesque, to partner the opening of Christina Aguilera and Cher's new movie, "Burlesque."


Slated to begin at 10 p.m., the dancers didn't appear on stage until more than an hour later, and that was just the beginning of the disappointment.  The room was full to the point of frustration with visibility scarce, and waiters barely able to squeeze their way through the packed crowd.  Most people resigned themselves to watching the live feed on the televisions scattered throughout the club, and gave up on seeing the dancers on stage.  


Attendees already felt a little daring and adventurous for even being there, but the half-naked girls weren't even visible. And the glimpses one could catch started to convince the audience that they really weren't missing much, bringing up the performance background these girls had, or didn't have.

"I would've thought they would be more graceful," said audience member Kimberly Shantz. "This isn't really sexy."

And it wasn't. For people excited to be swept up in a Fosse-esque darkness, The Provocateurs failed to succeed.  They had the sexual force of Prince behind them, and yet they still couldn't arouse an audience.  

The stage at club Eleven is suspended over the first floor of restaurant style seating, and directly in front of the second floor.  Its precarious placement, with only a couple of wires across the front to keep performers from falling off, made it fairly difficult to see the show unless you were privy to a reserved table on the second floor.  

What really hindered the performance was the showing of classic burlesque dancers like Bettie Page on the television screens for an entire hour before The Provocateurs went on. Page wooed audiences by being whimsical and sexy, while these girls managed neither. All six of them went in the aggressively sexy direction, and they didn't hold their own.  

Being classically trained in dance isn't a requirement to successfully pull off a burlesque show.  It never has been.  But the movements are supposed to be seductive, not jerky and awkward.  It makes much more sense to take a dancer and turn her into a burlesque dancer than to take someone who seems sexy and fit for burlesque and try to make them graceful

Knowingly delving into a world of questionable morals sounds evocative and exhilarating, but being greeted by The Provocateurs deadens the rush you might have felt. Their performance was extremely lackluster and left audience members confused.  

"I'm not sure if I desperately want to see ["Burlesque"] now to reassure myself that this really was bad in comparison," said audience member Nathalie Shipp, "or if I'm turned off of burlesque forever."

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