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Calgary International Burlesque festival highlights creativity and vaudeville

By Rachel Woodward, October 11 2016 —

For the past two years, the Calgary International Burlesque Festival has brought vaudeville and extravagance to the city’s stages. The festival will take place again this year from Oct. 14–16.

The festival features performers of all genders who take the spotlight and share sexuality, comedy and variety. Burlesque shows are comedic in nature, typically involving satire and a striptease.

This year, the festival will expand to include the Sheraton Suites in Eau Claire and the Chinese Cultural Centre in addition to Flames Central for the Saturday Showcase on Oct. 5. According to the festival’s director of communications Vanessa Mariani, the 2016 festival will be the biggest yet.

“This year is special because we are expanding our audience capacity. The last two years have been really successful and
we’ve had some really good feedback from people, so this year we are expanding into bigger spaces,” she says. “Our main event is at Flames Central this year,which is quite exciting. Personally it’s what I think the biggest difference is this year from other years.”

Local, national and international guests will make special appearances at the festival for workshops and performances. Notable guests include Blanche DeBris, who will run a workshop on being the perfect emcee and Perle Noire, who will instruct a high-paced dance class called “Perlesque Werk.”

The festival not only acts as an opportunity for the local burlesque community to engage in performance and celebration of culture but for audiences to see the true nature of burlesque performance.

“Hopefully people realize that burlesque is truly an art form,” Mariani says. “I think the general population is a little bit confused as to what burlesque is, but when you actually attend a show, it’s an extremely powerful and empowering art, especially for women. It’s not exclusively for women, but it is one of the few industries that’s sort of run by women for women.”

Mariani also says the festival is an important example of the growing acceptance for burlesque in the Calgary arts community.

“Calgary is just getting into that metropolitan feel for the arts community and because there’s more of an appreciation for it, it’s so easy to get people to come to these things that are so different,” she says. “For a city based in industrial beginnings, I would say that art is getting more of a focus nowadays and it is exciting. That’s why the festival has been doing so well.”

The Calgary International Burlesque Festival will run from Oct. 14–16 with various events taking place acro`ss the city. Tickets are available online and prices vary.

For more information, cibf.ca

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