Burlesque has its roots in performance art, parody and satirical drama or literature of the 16th Century.   While a history of burlesque would be as deep and wide as the Pacific Ocean, what we Americans know as burlesque has its root in Victorian and Minstrel variety shows.  The American cabarets, full of sketch comedies and chorus dances, began to increasingly focus on revealing bits of female nudity.  Today, neo-burlesque is a nostalgic mix of theater and dance, encompassing everything from the traditional striptease to intense dramas.

Sally Rand

In the 1930’s when the authorities began cracking down on public nudity, Sally Rand was one of many famous burlesque dancers who found classy, subtle ways to continue to tease and titillate audiences without falling afoul of censors.  Ms. Rand is most renowned for her fan dance performed for the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, in which the traditional nudity was simple an ”illusion’ created by her act of hiding behind the luscious feathers.

Sally Rand Feather Dance


Sally Rand’s Bubble Dance and Dita von Teese’s Tribute to Sally Rand


A Visit by Burlesque Queen Bonnie Fox

Atomic Ballroom had the honor of hosting lindy hop instructor and the International Crown winner of the 2013 World Burlesque Games, Sharon Davis (aka Bonnie Fox), for a burlesque workshop this past Sunday. Sharon is dedicated to bringing dance back into the forefront of burlesque. Using her jazz roots and lindy hop training, she is incorporating belly dance, Latin, ballet and even hip hop into creative and breathtaking performances.

Check out these clips of Bonnie Fox! Use it as inspiration for your solo jazz dancing or find a new nostalgic piece of history to obsess over…I know I do!

Fan Dance at LindyFocus VIII


Fan Dance en Pointe: Killer Dillers at Camp Jitterbug 2010


Brush Up On Your Burlesque and Solo Jazz Skills

Take advantage of solo movement classes at Atomic Ballroom with Belly Dancing on Saturday mornings or Tap with Rachel on Sunday afternoons. Check out Jitterblast classes, which incorporate solo jazz and lindy movements into an action-packed workout routine. And check out these videos by Sharon Davis to help you shimmy and breezy knees your way to becoming a burlesque dancer.

Before you know it, we could see you up there doing your own burlesque and cabaret routines or joining the Atomic Cherry Bombs to show-off your skills in the chorus line!