The Montreal Burlesque Festival: A Complete Guide

What is Burlesque?
I believe that burlesque pushes’ seduction to the extreme because people have gone to the other extreme. There is no romance whatsoever, no seduction anymore. Burlesque shows people how to play again. Some people think that’s what we find in Striptease Club. But they are working on the sexual aspect. Burlesque is on the plane of emotion, of the psychological. But it is about variety shows combining music, dance and song but always presented in a naughty and sensual world. The path is more important than the destination.

Why Burlesque?

Firstly, it’s the richness of humor that attracted me, I saw that here we celebrate women. The potential to produce these shows to the epitome of glamour excites me a lot! Secondly, the freedom to be oneself, to express oneself artistically, and to create the stagings of one’s dreams… The liberating movement of women and the return to the game of seduction with elegance please me. I also had the chance to build my own business through this profession! Witnessing the first show I attended : I was stunned. There was a flash in my head. It represented everything I liked : artistic creation, dance, cinema, costume design, stage, event production… I started this career because I lived a lack. Women don’t dress anymore to go out, they come out of theaters in jeans or leggings ! Yet all women, regardless of their shape or colors, have something to offer, and that’s what I like to highlight. Empowering women. I went home and for about six months I really studied burlesque, found out where it comes from, all the stories and legends associated with it and who does it. At the same time, I built my first act and my first costume.

Why did I create the Montreal Burlesque Festival?

I got more involved with the community and tried to develop something for myself. I decided to make a festival because a lot of cities had it and Montreal didn’t. Our efforts make Burlesque come back, but at that time it was still a bit dead. Montreal was the entertainment capital of North America long before Las Vegas. Burlesque was very popular in the 30s, 40s and 50s. With Prohibition in the United States, everyone came to Montreal to party. All the big stars, from Bettie Page to Lili St. Cyr came here, Frank Sinatra, Cab Calloway etc. It’s been 20 years since the burlesque revival, but like any rebirth, it’s a long time before it goes from underground to mainstream. For ten years, I have been attacking the general public in Montreal because even today, few people really know burlesque. Yet it’s a time when women and men can afford to dress well and even dare boas and extravagant clothes.

What’s the audience like?

Montreal has something for everyone. The variety of the show goes from the very underground to the antipodes of
Elegance to the extravagant glamour of the 40s, 50s, 60s, to the theatrical humor, the grotesque, as well as the cosplay and the fetish.

There is something for everyone and it’s wonderful! People are admiring, participating and dazzled by the beauty of the costumes and numbers presented.

What’s the purpose of the performances?

There is so much more behind the six minutes onstage of a girl taking her clothes off than what meets the eye. There is a history behind it and I want to show that. There are so many disciplines around it: costuming, acting, singing, producing, photography, makeup, hair. The people who perform are usually in their late 20s and 30s, they’ve had the time to develop that knowledge and sense of seduction and sensuality. I’m trying to stimulate local performers from every field to participate. At the end of the day, we are performers. We want to perform. We want to have a great stage and a fun audience. I’m here to offer beauty, dreams, fantasy and fancy. I don’t like vulgarity at all and I don’t want to get into political issues. My shows are a celebration of women, love, sensuality, humor, glamour and femininity. It’s something that we don’t see today. I decided to return to romance and seduction.

territorial acknowledgment

TDSB Land Acknowledgement
Original artwork, "Unity", by artist Mervin Windsor.

The Montreal Burlesque Festival takes place on the traditional territory of the Kanien’kehá:ka people. The land was also a place for diplomatic meetings with other Iroquoians and Algonquians, including the Algonquin-Anishinaabe, Atikamekw and Huron-Wendat.

We recognize that we are located on land that has been a place of human creativity and sharing for thousands of years and we are grateful to be able to continue this tradition and create, collaborate, perform and celebrate here, together.

** If you would like to learn more about this territorial recognition statement, the history of Indigenous peoples or the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, here are some links that could help guide your research:

– About territorial acknowledgment:
– About the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada:
– Native Friendship Center of Montreal Inc. (CAAM):
Native Montreal
NETWORK of the Aboriginal community