EVERYONE CANCAN -
World burlesque day
For the 1st World Burlesque Day, we've decided to release our contents in English so everyone can learn more about the passionate history of cancan. Key words : feminism and empowering ! Cancan is not just about being flexible and sexy. It's an inclusive and powerful dance.
You'll find here our very own Bible about history, figures and steps !
UNDERNEATH THE CANCAN DRESS…
Everything you dreamed of knowing about the cancan ...
First, history class !
Cancan was born in a context of strong social protests. Women imposed themselves first against the monarchy, but especially against patriarchy, against the Church, against the army. The Paris Commune of 1871 was experienced as a trauma. The women are the first, with Louise Michel, to protect the Butte Montmartre and to want to prevent the army of Adolphe Thiers from recovering the guns posted throughout Paris following the siege of Prussia. In this short political experiment, which will be the first to implement the recommendations of the first socialist international, the representative bodies are equal. The repression by the Versaillese is unprecedented, and nearly 30,000 Parisians died there.
The cancan was developped in this post-Common context, and anti-militarism in society takes its root. The Church, for its part, runs all social and political life. The law of separation of the Churches and the State will be enacted only in 1905. It is the Church which dictates the fact that a woman has to be “pure”, “respectable”, that a mother is frigid and only prostitutes can feel pleasure (a big sin, a devil sign). The Church prohibits the divorce (even though it was earned a few decades ago), which assigns women at home and wives to the profession of mother. Another object of anticlerical contestation is the erection of the Sacred Heart at the top of the Montmartre hill, at the very place of the beginning of the Commune and where the Bloody Week massacre took place. Many Montmartrois see it as a provocation, aimed at humiliating the Communards who died in combat. The latter fought for democracy, for dignity, and for secularism. On their still lukewarm corpses, this basilica was built there in 1875. The Church is therefore symbolically the institution that offends human rights defenders.
THE RIFFLE CARRYING
As we have seen, cancan is part of an anti-militarist era, values in which we find ourselves today. The step of carrying a weapon mimics the rifle, the bayonet, carried on the shoulder. The leg represents the barrel of the weapon. The dancers therefore laugh at arms, their legs are enough for them. It’s also a nod to women’s ban on bearing a gun. You can do it by running your leg in front of your face, or behind your shoulder every second. It can be performed in fixed, turning or hopping. The dancer, depending on her abilities, can hold her leg in one or two hands, using the other hand to perform a military salute!
Symbolizing social and cultural diversity, the dancer grinds her lower leg as if it were the whip that mixes the ingredients so that it takes a beautiful mixture! The movement must be fluid, untied to be able to have its effect. Let us not forget that at the time of its creation, Montmartre was in full transformation. Attached to Paris in 1860, the hill is then a landmark of fairly poor people, reputed to be malfamous. However, the most famous artists flock, and with the opening of places such as the Moulin de la Galette, the Chat Noir and later, the Moulin Rouge, the bourgeois come to slaughter.
In pairs or more, the dancers join their feet to raise them to the sky, like the dome of a cathedral. A flexible way of mocking the Church by mimicking it, while discovering what it abhors: immodesty. It is also a nod to those who campaigned against the construction of the Sacred Heart. Even today, Montmartrois, notably descendants of Communards, claim its destruction.
The kick-up : the name could come from the cavalry. A horse's kick-up is when it is riding, and kicking is a cavalry technique to keep the opponent away. We imagine the insolent and indomitable side of the dancers in this step. But also the provocative side of showing your buttocks (all the more in a time when skirts fell to the ankles) of "it is to see what you come from? You are served!"
The leapfrog (or sheep-jumping for the French translation), a childish game? And yet, we see in place of the sheep this silent crowd that lets a patriarchal, misogynistic and well-thinking society take shape, which refuses to open its eyes to its responsibilities. What we refuse is to follow this wave, so we go over it, we think and we open our flaps!
This pose does not date from the Belle Époque, but today. Invented by André Gine and Antoinette in 2018, this step is to symbolize the speaking freedom of women and their empowerment. But also and above all, it is to make a toast and pay tribute to all those who feel women, those who experience it in broad daylight, as well as those who do not have our luck, those who do not want to be recognized, those who are no longer there, those who are persecuted on a daily basis because of their nature, their choices, their social condition.