Spread your wings: Gulf Weekly Online

Gulf Weekly Mai Al Khatib-Camille

By Mai Al Khatib-Camille

Professional performer Ranya Malovič enters 2022 with the aim of shattering misconceptions about an expressive, theatrical dance form that builds confidence and self-esteem.

The 34-year-old expat from the Slovak Republic has ignited stages across the kingdom with her captivating choreography and costumes as she performs the art of burlesque … and hopes the storytelling dance style becomes a hobby to inspire creativity while also building body positivity.

“In my opinion, burlesque is above all a theatrical creation, a variety show,” explains the classically trained ballerina who also enjoys Jazz, advertising, Hip Hop and oriental dance. “It is a literary, dramatic or musical work intended to make laughter by caricaturing the manner or the spirit of serious works, or by treating in a ridiculous way their subjects.

“It can often be a reflection of the times or of certain current events – like a social commentary on current events told through a performance.

“Unfortunately, some people often equate it with something exotic, but it’s really more than that and different from other dance forms, in my opinion.

“It’s not just a movement or a beautiful choreography, it’s the art of telling real stories and evoking moods. Unlike just dancing in heels, you are still creating a scenario. I also love the very creative use of props and costume elements. There are no limits to his ideas with this style of dancing.

The art form and musical play have been around for hundreds of years. In 16th century Italy, commedia dell’arte (Craft Comedy) was popularized as a form of entertainment that has persisted throughout Europe. The act was most often an improvised performance or skit, relying heavily on overdone props and masks to intensify the experience.

Part of the show would be a burla, which means mockery, and the brief comedic pause in the story would soon be found in music, dance, theater, and all forms of classical performance.

In the arts, moments or themes of exaggerated comedy became known as “burlesco” in Italian or “burlesque” in French and the term was later adopted in English.

As the world approached the 20th century, burlesque evolved in many forms. Victorian burlesque peaked in England in the late 1800s along with other musical theater traditions such as pantomime.

Victorian burlesque generally made fun of more serious shows like Shakespeare and opera and as North America grew and became more independent it developed a version of Victorian burlesque that evolved and lasted until the 1970s.

Now referred to as American burlesque, it is the most often depicted version of the art form with elaborate costumes and dance as its central elements and keeping its proud heritage of comedy, music and satire.

Modern burlesque, or neo-burlesque, has adopted and raised a new culture. Women around the world are turning to this art form with an emphasis on body positivity, self-expression, and shameless environments.

“The biggest misconception I’m trying to dispel is that burlesque is an exotic act and it’s only for certain ages and body types,” said Ranya, who teaches the dance style in studios at Bahrain and organizes variety shows with the Flames Dance Company. for weddings and corporate events. “This is totally wrong! It is absolutely for everyone. Even men can be part of burlesque shows from elsewhere!

“What’s more, burlesque is all about self-esteem and self-confidence. Class is a fun way to learn to dance, gain strength and flexibility, with the added element of storytelling.

“I always see that it boosts the self-esteem of my students and they come out of the classroom tall and proud. Many keep coming back to tell me how it has helped them with everyday trust issues. Burlesque is 100% positive for the body! “

Her dream is to one day put on a monthly variety show where others can show off their talents and feel free to express themselves.

“People from all walks of life could participate in this open stage and together create a visual feast,” said the former three-time world champion of the World Federation of Artistic Dance in classical dance, folklore and oriental dance performance.

“Whether they are acrobats, jugglers, fire artists, dance teams of different styles, singers, musicians, actors, sketch actors… professionals or amateurs. Bahrain has so much to offer and I would love to bring them all together in one showcase.

For more details, follow @ranya_oriental on Instagram.

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