Burlesque is most often associated with "Moulin Rouge," Dita Von Teese, and boundless women who refuse to be shamed into covering up their bodies. Unfortunately, the tradition of burlesque is often associated with white women. 

However, there have been — and continue to be — a legion of Black burlesque dancers who are making space for themselves on the stage.

Although burlesque is rooted in literature, Victorian burlesque accrued popularity in London in the 1830s, according to W. Davenport Adam's "A Book of Burlesque."

The earliest shows featured women parodying everything from opera to the era's most popular music to Shakespeare.

In the 1840s, burlesque traveled across the pond. Burlesque dancers began performing in New York, according to Jordan Vesey, an associate producer at PBS.

As Vesey explained, burlesque took on a new life in America. It became the third part of musical variety performances, alongside vaudeville comedy and minstrel show.

Black burlesque dancers emerged during the dawn of American burlesque. However, as Vesey explained, burlesque, minstrel, and vaudeville "often parodied and trivialized the African-American experience for cheap laughs."

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In 1890, the all-Black female Creole Show debuted — and changed the game for Black women in burlesque.

The Creole Show used burlesque to critique America's bigoted policies about race.

"Stars of the show included Ada Overton Walker, Stella Wiley, Dora Dean and Belle Davis, who would go on to star in Oriental America, a dazzling spectacle mocking the exotification of African-American and Asian women, illustrating the hypocrisy of America’s policies in the Far East, and the enforcement of Jim Crow laws stateside," burlesque dancer Chicava Honeychild told Ebony magazine.

Over the next 40 years, Black burlesque revues became popular, especially in the Harlem Renaissance era.

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However, segregation kept Black and white burlesque performers from sharing the same stages at the same time.

As Jim Crow laws eased and audiences were integrated, Black burlesque performers began being hired and billed as "feature attractions."

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"These burlesque dancers were publicized as 'exotics' with producers using descriptors like 'jungle fever' or 'voodoo mistress' on posters and playbills," Vesey wrote.

In order to get booking, Black burlesque dancers had to agree to enact racist stereotypes on stage.

Josephine Baker might have been one of the few exceptions to the rule.

In 1925, she began headlining her own show at Follies Bergere in Paris. Her unparalleled stardom remained unmatched for much for her career.

For instance, her iconic banana skirt, which she wore during her Danse Sauvage performance, has been recreated by Beyoncé and other Black female performers.

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Burlesque eventually paved the way for stripping, which led to the death of the original burlesque tradition.

In the 1990s, the neo-burlesque movement emerged — and Black women became central to its re-emergence.

Most importantly, burlesque allows Black women to take control of their sexuality — finally.

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"For Black women — sexualized or other — to intellectually take to the stage and own yourself, that is very revolutionary," HoneyChild told PBS. "The African-American woman's experience in America is very much one of sexual dominance or of being dominated. And so to perform and take that back and have that expression is a political act."