Scarlett James brings the glamour and humour of burlesque back to Montreal, once the capital of burlesque in Canada.
Photo Credit: Thierry Quenette

Burlesque tradition continues in Montreal

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Burlesque theatre is gaining a new audience with the upcoming 7th annual Montreal Burlesque Festival. Organizer, and one of the stars of the event, Scarlett James, says she was thrilled to have a sold-out run last year, and is looking forward to this lucky seventh edition.

“Burlesque is part of Montreal’s heritage… I want to continue this tradition and bring it back to life”

Next weekend, over three-nights, the festival will feature several different acts. musicians and entertainers. It’s a glamorous occasion that grew by word of mouth in the early years. “Burlesque is part of Montreal’s heritage. It is why Montreal is so well known today, so I want to continue this tradition and bring it back to life” James explains.

It all began for Scarlett, after attending an amateur burlesque show with friends, James said she “fell in love with the communion there is between the artist and the public, and the sense of humour, and the celebration of women and the glamour.”  She says she realized she wanted to bring it to a larger audience.

James clarifies that in burlesque there is no nudity. It’s more like a variety show. And each performer’s number is a well-choreographed production. To watch Scarlett James move around her props and set, is as amazing as it is delightful. She says she, and the other burlesque artists, take the audience on a journey.  

For the first time this year, the festival is linked to ANAD, the National Association of Anorexia and Associated Eating Disorders, such as bulimia. She says she wants to “show the world and the younger generation that all the women and all the young people are beautiful, it’s not really what you look like, it’s what you do for yourself that makes you beautiful. You shine from inside.”  She says by the exaggeration on-stage, featuring so many different forms of beauty they hope to raise awareness in the younger generation.

James says burlesque festivals are growing in popularity around the world. She has been at the top of the bill in shows as far away as Japan, and has several recurring appearances in the United States. But for the next couple of months, she and some of her favourite entertainers will be busy with fulfilling the corporate requests for the meeting and gatherings that bring people to Montreal.

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