Le Crazy Horse

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Sensual music, pretty costumes and even prettier women take the stage this autumn when the dancers of Le Crazy Horse pay Hong Kong a visit, James Bien finds out

Since Le Crazy Horse opened its doors in 1951, the Parisian cabaret has seduced local French and foreign visitors alike with its flirtatious routines and sensuous lights. But even the troupe’s founder, Alain Bernardin, couldn’t imagine the enormous global phenomenon his show has become. Its international prominence was proven in 2001 when the show made its first visit to Las Vegas, which was met with triumphant success. Crazy Horse’s reputation then extended to high profile international celebrities who guest-starred in select shows: the queen of burlesque, Dita Von Teese, the Princess of Savoy, Clotilde Courau, and Victoria’s Secret Angel, Noémie Lenoir. Now, Crazy Horse is bringing its signature style to cities all over the world with its first international tour, Forever Crazy, which makes its week-long Hong Kong debut in mid-September. 

One of the cabaret’s core values is an appreciation of womanhood. “Shows at the Crazy Horse are really a tribute to a woman’s beauty,” says Psykko Tico, artistic co-ordinator and dancer at Crazy Horse. “It’s about the choreography, the striptease and the sensual seduction.” Certainly, throughout decades of changes in femininity and fashion, the cabaret has used makeup, costume and lighting to make every girl look perfect – as if by magic. “Le Crazy Horse is all about the details, the little things that are used to reveal a woman’s beauty. Every movement is transformed in the beautiful lights.” The careful attention that is paid to details of each dancer’s body reflects a longstanding tradition set by Bernardin himself, who insisted that the dancers must have identical measurements in height, breast size and shape. 

Though the controversial art form was first met with discord, Paris eventually warmed to the idea of nude dancers on stage. “The art of nude is so classic and is never vulgar and people appreciate the show as a piece of Paris,” says Tico. In fact, the impressive reputation that Crazy Horse holds has become a standard for Parisian fashion and culture. Christian Louboutin, the renowned shoe designer, recently collaborated with the cabaret to deliver the visionary film, Feu. Luxury brands like Jean-Paul Gaultier and Chopard have also enlisted the mesmerising beauty of the cabaret’s dancers in their shows.  

For its first international tour ever, Crazy Horse has enlisted the help of Phillipe Decouflé, who also choreographed Cirque du Soleil’s Iris. As a celebration of the show’s six-decade history, the tour is a tribute to Bernardin’s genius. Many of Bernardin’s original routines are featured in the tour, but they have been adopted to suit the modern audience. “The creators took parts of the original idea and transformed them with sensuality to create a new number,” says Tico. “Everything’s changed. But cabaret is artistic and the numbers can last forever.” 

This is testament to Crazy Horse’s true avant-garde and visionary nature; despite the many changes in fashion, lighting technology and the female figure, the troupe has remained at the forefront of the cultural scene in Paris after more than 60 years since its creation.

Forever Crazy has already received high accolades in the cities that it has toured, including Moscow, Barcelona and Cannes. In particular, its visit to London lasted 13 weeks and featured guest star Kelly Brook. In each city, audiences expressed similar sentiments of awe and amazement. “It’s a big surprise for them,” says Tico. “People don’t know what to expect.” The success of the international tour has shown that you don’t have to be a Parisian to appreciate the French styling of beautiful women performing seductive choreography. “Forever Crazy is a selection of the best parts of sexy numbers like God Save Our Bareskin. There are some new creations, too. It’s a nice show to discover the French cabaret.” 

When the cabaret visits our city this coming September, it is sure to impress those with a passion for beauty and femininity. 

HKAPA, Lyric Theatre Sep, 11-19 Tickets: $1,290, $990, $690; hkticketing.com.

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