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  • Writer's pictureClass Act Creative

The Fading Glamour: Exploring the Dying Art of the Showgirl

Updated: May 11

In the realm of entertainment, few figures embody elegance, allure, and spectacle quite like the Showgirl. With their elaborate costumes, feathered headdresses, and mesmerising dance routines, Showgirls have long been synonymous with glamour and extravagance. However, in recent years, this iconic figure has faced a decline, with the art of the Showgirl slowly fading into obscurity. Let’s delve into the history, legacy, and challenges surrounding the dying art of the Showgirl.

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A Glittering Legacy

The history of the Showgirl can be traced back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when elaborate theatrical productions and cabaret shows flourished in cities like Paris and New York. Showgirls became an integral part of these spectacles, adding a touch of glitz and glamour to the stage with their elaborate costumes, dazzling choreography, and larger-than-life presence. From the legendary Folies Bergère in Paris to the iconic shows of Las Vegas, Showgirls captivated audiences with their beauty, grace, and show-stopping performances.

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Jubilee - Las Vegas

The Golden Era of Showgirls

The mid-20th century marked the golden era of Showgirls, with Las Vegas emerging as the epicenter of lavish entertainment productions. Showgirl revues became synonymous with the Las Vegas Strip, with iconic venues like the Stardust, the Dunes, and the Riviera showcasing elaborate productions featuring dozens of showgirls adorned in sequins, feathers, and rhinestones. These glamorous productions attracted tourists from around the world and cemented the showgirl as a symbol of Vegas-style entertainment.

Changing Tides

Despite their iconic status, Showgirls have faced challenges in recent decades. Evolving tastes, changing cultural norms, and economic factors have contributed to the decline of traditional Showgirl productions. In an era dominated by digital entertainment and short attention spans, the elaborate stage productions that once featured Showgirls have become less common, replaced by smaller-scale performances, celebrity headliners, and immersive experiences.

Cultural Critique

Critics of the Showgirl tradition argue that it perpetuates outdated stereotypes of femininity and objectification. The hyper sexualised imagery often associated with Showgirls has been criticised for promoting unrealistic beauty standards and reinforcing gender norms. In an age of heightened awareness around issues of gender equality and representation, the traditional Showgirl archetype is sometimes seen as out of step with contemporary values.

Preserving the Legacy

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Moulin Rouge, Paris

Despite the challenges facing the art of the Showgirl, there are efforts underway to preserve its legacy and revive interest in this iconic figure. Productions such as the Moulin Rouge and Crazy Horse in Paris continue to draw crowds while maintaining their traditional roots. Museums, archives, and cultural institutions are documenting the history of Showgirls and preserving artefacts from past productions. Additionally, contemporary performers and choreographers are incorporating elements of Showgirl style into modern dance routines and burlesque shows, paying homage to the glamour and sophistication of the past while infusing it with a contemporary sensibility.

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Dita Von Teese

Here at Class Act Creative we continue to bring the beautiful art of the Showgirl to Australian audiences, frequently drawing on the iconic Showgirl aesthetic in our costuming and style. We also hold regular Showgirl Workshops and classes to ensure the technique and finesse of the Showgirl is not lost for future generations. The hunger from young dancers to learn this classic style remains strong and many dancers continue to forge careers in beautiful shows around the globe.

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The art of the showgirl may be fading, but its legacy continues to shine brightly in the annals of entertainment history. From the glittering stages of Las Vegas to the pages of pop culture, Showgirls have left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment, captivating audiences with their beauty, talent, and grace. While the traditional Showgirl may no longer be as prevalent as she once was, her spirit lives on in the hearts of those who appreciate the timeless allure of glamour and spectacle. Vive la Showgirl!

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