Nicky Devine’s ‘On Burlesque’ photo series are a wonderful look behind the curtains of that most alluring of artforms, burlesque. Yes, yes we all know about the high rollering performers like Dita Von Teese but what of those dancers that play every night in the small clubs of New York. Well Nicky Devine went to find out, have a look backstage and came back with these candid photographs that look at life as a burlesque dancer. Tassels and all.
It’s a a stripped down documentary, an uncompromising peak into a life full of long nights, hard hours on hard floors, in cramped changing rooms. You won’t see the dancing, the performance, the glitz and the glam in these pictures. It’s all about the women, about hurt feet, sore joints, tired bodies. Here’s what Devine had to say about the series:
It is not my intention to explore these women as sexual objects, but rather, performance artists that are exploring a way of art that the general public has deemed unusual or taboo. Recently, Burlesque has grown in the cultural eye, and has become popular in many metropolitan areas. In a culture where sex is so completely available, the idea of being “sexy” has many faces. Or names: Clams, Legs, Harvest are just few. They are all women, but they are performers too.
Their goal is to not only entertain, but make their entertainment memorable. There are the costumes, the makeup, the high heels, and the stage. Aligning the backstage mirror is a 6″ painted piece of wood that is adorned with whiskey drinks and lipstick. Instead of a curtain call hours before the show begins, there is usually only minutes for the dancers to ready themselves. How quickly they dab glitter onto their lips and powder their legs and asses amazes me. Rarely are those legs touched by onlookers, nor are they prodded with hoots and hollers: onstage, they are simply dancing.