History of Burlesque and Bollywood Dance

History of Burlesque and Bollywood Dance

We all love to dance, whether it be at a party, in the privacy of your room or just about anywhere. But do we know where dancing originated from and how it has evolved from prehistoric times? Dance has long been apart of ceremonies, rituals and celebrations. In ancient cultures all across the world dance was an integral part of festivities such as births, marriages, harvest festivals and religious celebrations. The tradition of dance accompanying an important event has been passed down over the millennia and still to this day is a popular form of celebration. It is a lively, enjoyable, humorous and social art form so why not incorporate one of the most festive traditions into one of the most festive events, a hens party!

We offer both burlesque and Bollywood hens party packages where our insanely talented, sociable and fascinating instructors will lead you through the basics of the art form and give you tips, tricks and advice throughout the class. We assume no prior dance experience but if a few in the class are learned dancers our teachers are adept at altering the difficulty level to suit each individual. You may be thinking, “this sounds like a fun, exciting and unique hens party idea but what about if some guests don’t like dancing or aren’t very good at it.”. Well, our parties are perfect for those people too! A lot of people dislike dancing because they don’t feel they look good whilst busting out their favourite moves and hence feel self conscious. Attending an enjoyable, pressure free dance class with your best friends is the perfect way to kick start your confidence in your moves and get you out on the dance floor. If you need more tips on how to get all the guests you want to come to the hens party have a look at this article.

Although dance has been around for most of human existence, the type of dance classified as burlesque only surfaced in the seventeenth century during the Victorian era. The term burlesque was originally used to reference the style of literature in theatre wherein the playwright would make a mockery of one or more characters or turn a particular situation into a parody for comedic effect. This evolved in London into short shows where a popular musical or opera was taken and ridiculed, creating a comedic parody of the original. These shows can hardly be thought of as risqué by our standards today but back then caused quite a stir. Women came on stage adorned with long dresses that flowed down over their legs and stopped above just above their ankles. This small portion of skin, which was covered still by flesh coloured tights, outraged (yet thrilled) England. It caused such a scandal which, of course, meant seats were constantly filled. Technically, their ankles were still covered, albeit with something thin and skin coloured, however, they were portrayed as sexual beings. From this strip-tease was born.

What we think of when we think of burlesque dancing today, really was formed in America when the star English burlesque performer Lydia Thompson visited New York in 1868 with her troupe the “British Blondes”. The short one hour shows were stretched into events which lasted all evening and included comedy routines, chorus girls, acrobatics, magic and political satires on top of song and dance. The famed Moulin Rouge opened in 1889, and with it a place where people from all walks of life could come and enjoy themselves. Whilst not technically classified as burlesque, the Parisian ‘cabaret’ and American ‘burlesque’ shared many similar qualities not in the least the inclusion of scantily dressed women.

As burlesque went out of fashion in the United Kingdom towards the end of the eighteenth century, it gained popularity in the United States. Burlesque, once classified as the “poor persons theatre”, gradually enticed a larger and larger clientele of business men and members of the upper class who came to “see the comic” and less of exclusively blue collar workers. It’s risqué nature and sensual portrayal of the female form became the forefront of the performance style and the other elements were lessened or phased out. Strip tease became an enticing form of entertainment that all different men could enjoy. As the demand grew, more shows were created, often by women for an all women cast. Burlesque not only became a symbol of female confidence and power, it empowered women in business and in the arts.

Burlesque dancing is an empowering art form which is guaranteed to make you feel sexy and confident. Take a page out of the burlesque stars’ book and come wearing something flirtatious and intriguing (which they wore despite the laws restricting how short their hemlines could be). For more tips on costume read our article on what to wear to a burlesque party here. To feel even more the party have your makeup done in a burlesque theme by one of our talented makeup artists. Walk away from the party with a new spring in your step that will get head turning almost as quickly as you’ll be turning in the class.

Bollywood has a vastly different history, stemming from traditional Indian dance, however, like burlesque, was also influenced by the styles of other countries and contemporary culture. The name ‘Bollywood’ comes from combining Bombay (the Indian city now called Mumbai) and Hollywood and refers to the gigantic Indian film industry. A distinctive quality of these tremendous and mesmerising films are the elaborate choreography and dance sequences often combined with original soundtracks. For more information on Bollywood read our article which focuses exclusively on it!

Originally the dance numbers were based solely on traditional Indian classical and folk dance. This evolved in the 1960s due to choreographers wanting to include more dancers in the Bollywood numbers, which hence, altered the dance style slightly. From this time the technique and quality of the dancers increased tremendously and the intrigue, energy and captivation associated with Bollywood dancing was born.

With the increase of globalisation in the seventies came the growth of the Bollywood dance style. Cabaret was the first alternate dance style to have an large influence on Bollywood dancing, and was closely followed by the effect of disco fever which was encapsulating the world. The Bollywood industry gained immense popularity and this lead to a saturation of immensely talented dancers, which in turn, lead to a ‘free era’ of Bollywood dancing due to the development of each famed dancer’s own personal style. The eighties brought MTV, and with it, larger exposure of western pop culture and dancing styles. The nineties came with the world wide web and information on the dancing styles unique to different cultures. Both decades impacted ‘Bollywood’ style dancing and the Bollywood that we have come to love is now a fusion of a number of dancing styles including classic and folk Indian dance, jazz, hip-hop, belly dancing, salsa and the director, choreographer and individual dancers own signature style.

When you learn Bollywood you are learning techniques practised for thousands of years, but you are also learning dancing styles from across the spectrum, making your new dance knowledge applicable to every occasion. As Bollywood dancing is constantly evolving, there is always more to learn so even if you have had Bollywood experience before, this class you will always come away with new knowledge from this class.

Dancing is something which unites cultures and people from across the world. Almost everyone has experienced some kind of dancing in their life, whether watching or doing, and can relate to the desire to swing your hips along to the music. Artists create some songs with the single goal in mind of getting people to dance. Festivals are centred around it and people dedicate their entire lives to become the perfect medium to showcase this art. It can tell stories and express emotions and is proven to reduce stress and anxiety. So why not get your hen swirling and twirling on the dance floor whilst picking up tips and bonding with other guests over their favourite ‘Step Up’ movie.


To discuss how we can create your exciting and fun dance party contact us  through email or call us on 0410 767 869. We can’t wait to see you busting your new moves on the dance floor.



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