Hot Docs 2016 Review: “League of Exotique Dancers” (2016) ★★★★


Women have always been the strong ones in the world. They do what it takes to get wherever they need, a need that can bring them to the top. Rama Rau’s League of Exotique Dancers shows the subtle line women walked through on their way to become Burlesque Legends. A way that was extremely hard but full of endless pleasure when you know that when you’re on the stage you own the entire audience and nothing could have been better. And the only weapon they used for that is their charm, feminine beauty that allowed them to conquer the world of Burlesque Dance.

Film League of Exotique Dancers has a power to struck you by its beauty and bring tears to your eyes as you hear the stories of burlesque dancers. It brings back out of retirement life the legends of burlesque dancers, Camille 2000, Delilah Jones, Gina Bon Bon, Holiday O`Hara, Judith Stain, Kitten Natividad, Lovely Goldmine, Marinka and Toni Elling who open up about their past, they way they envisioned the stage and how they used their skills to ensure that the audience will come back to see them again.

As you hear what they have to say, you realize that behind the glorious curtain there were always struggles, risks, drugs, and mistakes that sometimes made them to come back even stronger. In Rau’s film you will be able to get a close-up look into the world of burlesque and the way it existed in 50s, 60s, 70s etc. As the film unfolds, you see how the Burlesque Legends prepare to give a live performance at the Legends of Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas. But the most fascinating part of this film is when again they share their backstories that will stun you as the feeling of pride grows gradually.

Rau’s film has a perfect narrative, inspiring stories, and women who had to make their way through poverty, racism and sexism in order to express themselves through their dance. It is indeed one of the most important films you have to see, as it shows the past the legends lived in, as with the help of archival footages you can compare the world back then and now, and see how much we all missed. Yes, perhaps the life of burlesque still exists now, but the fact that it would have never been where it is right now if not for those women who had to work hard find a ground that you now can walk on it and enjoy the art of burlesque dance even more.

%d bloggers like this: