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Photo by Xillia Faye Photography
Photo by Xillia Faye Photography

Dancer Russell Bruner takes a stand in Burlesque blackface contoversy

Bruner and others refused to perform in a French show with a blackface Burlesque performer.

From Portland's Russell Bruner's Facebook page on Friday, March 10:

I'm very sad to say that I won't be performing at Le Kalinka for the Toulouse Burlesque Festival this evening. It is my belief that the performers in a variety show, though they take the stage at different times, ultimately speak with one voice together as a cast. And when a performer makes a statement on stage, that their fellow cast mates do not agree with, that consideration should be made to disconnect the statement from the whole of the show.

Though I am against censorship, I believe that performers need to know they speak for the whole of the show, and the performance venue, as well as themselves.

Furthermore, when a performer takes on a controversial subject, they must know that they might not only offend the audience, they might also offend their cast mates. And their statement should be very well thought out with consideration to the consequences of their actions.

I respect the position of the venue upholding freedom of speech, but I did not agree with the clarity of the message that was attempted by one of the performers in the show.

In the end, I didn't want to walk out. I wanted to stay with adjustments made to the unagreeable statement. I spoke with the performer and felt their heart was in the right place, but also felt their message was executed in a way that didn't clearly relay the message they were trying to convey, and made an offense I can not be associated with.

When the decision was made to make no changes to this act, I was compelled to leave along with my fellow cast mates who agreed that we couldn't be a part of this message in this show.

The Toulouse Burlesque Festival, produced by Florence Boué, and Stephane Lafage of Le Kalinka, has a cast crisis on its hands after a dispute over a blackface…

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