No amount of full-frontal nudity can make up for mediocre burlesque. When the boys are drab and the choreography is lacking, male burlesque ranges from boring to simply painful to watch.
To be frank, I went to see Male Call: Student Bodies, an all-male burlesque show taking place the entire summer in Provincetown, with fairly low expectations.
That's in large part why I didn’t expect the show to be of the most beautifully choreographed feats to ever come to Provincetown. With a fully fleshed-out narrative, Male Call challenges how we view and express masculinity and identity through dance.
The creator and producer of Male Call, Troy David, explains, “People who are unfamiliar with our show will arrive expecting a standard burlesque or male strip show, and will leave having experienced everything from contemporary dance to hip-hop, jazz, ballet, and more.”
He continues, “If, however, all they want is the male nudity, we deliver.”
“We have a fully nude group finale that presents to our audience, through dance, the beauty of the human body beyond the facades and masks that we all wear,” the creator explains.
The show was choreographed by none other than Robert La Fosse, which explains why the movement was top-notch. La Fosse worked with the American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet as a principal dancer for years. He's also been nominated for a Tony award for best actor and has helped to create more than 75 works for ballet, opera, musical theater, film, and television.
If he was going to help choreograph a nude show, La Fosse “had to figure out why we are taking off our clothes. What’s the point without it being gratuitous?”
Currently in its third year, Male Call always has a theme. This year’s “Student Bodies” focuses on pupils and teachers at a school.
“Three years ago, we started with these character, these archetypes: cowboys, businessman, lawyers. We had these facades — these personas that we present to the world—and then we get to see who they are behind closed doors, and then we get to see what their fantasies are, what do they become, and what they want to be.”
Each dancer brings something unique to the performance in both dancing style, but also size — there is over a foot difference between the tallest and shortest dancer.
“We try to get different kinds of dancers and different styles so the show has variety,” the choreographer explains. “I’d say I do 50% of the choreography but the rest is a collaborative effort with the dancers."
“There is more to expect from this all-male burlesque show than [what] meets the eye,” Richard Schieffer, one of the show’s dancers says. “Male Call tests the definition of masculinity and identity. We get to be who we are within each character.”
But no matter what it is you hope to take away from the performance: appreciating the unique choreography, marveling at the beautifully crafted costumes, or simply enjoying the naked, gorgeous men dancing mere feet before your eyes, Male Call delivers.
You can purchase tickets here.