photo by Bobby Plasencia, swiped from his Flickr site.
Before there was burlesque, there was bellydance. At least that was the case around Casa de Moore. Before she was Red Snapper, our favorite strawberry blonde striptease artist was known as "Melita" and danced with a local bellydance troupe. That foray into exotic dance was to be but a whistlestop on the way to bigger and more rhinestoney things, but for a short while there I got to hang out with bellydancers and check out that whole scene (and what a scene it is! Note to self: revisit the Perfume of Araby Bellydance Swap Meet sometime!)
There is a natural and historic overlap of bellydance and burlesque. They're not the same artform, to be sure, but it is no surprise to find bellydancers who have migrated to burlesque. One such performer is Lulu Lunaris, who offers a compelling fusion of the two styles with an emphasis on the exotic.
There are performers who excite an audience and bring on the hoots, hollers and applause. There are still others who seem to hypnotize an audience, and perhaps don't generate the same level of vociferous response. I would put Lulu in this latter category. The effect she creates is dazzling; watching her is like watching a tongue of fire dancing atop a candle. Mesmerizing. Her beauty and confidence as a performer contribute to this effect -- one understands how a Salome could convince a king to kill a prophet.
Last Monday night she brought a bit more of the burlesque to her act, as she performed a solo homage to the Robert Rodriguez film Desperado. This number had more of a flamenco influence to it, in costume as well as choreography, and it got me to thinking. There is a tremendous amount of charm inherent in folk dance, and it doesn't matter if it's bellydance, flamenco, square-dance or that German shoe-slapping-dance (it's called "schuhplattler" in case you're wondering).
In addition to being an accomplished hypnotist, Lulu is a charming performer.