Burlesque troupe turns 10

JAHNA PELOQUIN | Updated 9/4/2013

Neo-burlesque pioneers Le Cirque Rouge celebrate a decade.

Ringleader Amy Buchanan (the blonde in back) is celebrating 10 years with her Le Cirque Rouge cabaret/burlesque troupe.
Photo by Matt Black

Back in 2003, Le Cirque Rouge was the first to propagate modern burlesque in the Twin Cities. A decade and an estimated 700 shows later, the troupe celebrates its legacy with a two-day anniversary bash featuring performers from its past and its present lineups. We chatted with founder/organizer/ringleader Amy Buchanan about the inception of LCR, her fondest memory and what to expect at this weekend’s festivities.

Q: What was the state of the Twin Cities burlesque scene when you founded Le Cirque Rouge?

A: There were no burlesque shows happening, but I was very influenced by the whole Loring [Cafe] world and Ruby’s Cabaret in the Warehouse District, which was the original home of Ballet of the Dolls. There were tons of strip clubs and a lot of drag shows, but that was about it.

Q: How many performers have performed with Le Cirque Rouge over the years?

A: We’ve had over 100 people be a part of the cast. We’ve attracted a lot of really talented singers, dancers, comedians and musicians, many of whom got their start with us and have gone on to do other great things.

Q: What do you love about burlesque? What drew you to it and kept you involved with it over the years?

A: I love that we can blend live music with comedy and dance. Personally, it gave me permission to be silly and be more than just a singer in a band. And the people I work with let me play with them like giant Barbie dolls — part of me doesn’t ever have to grow up.

Q: What’s your fondest memory of Le Cirque Rouge over the years?

A: Recently, I was outside during intermission and a small person walked up and asked me for money with some bizarre story of desperation. At the same time, I look over and Queenie von Curves is bouncing and squishing her boobs up against the window toward me. It was really weird. I love that — it happens all the time at our shows.

Q: What was your “a-ha” moment when you realized you really had something special with LCR?

A: Actually, it’s happened a few times. It happened when it first started. That was a really magical time. It happened at Year 1 when it didn’t die despite some hard times, and again around Year 5 when it was still going strong and really talented people kept finding us and wanting to join the show.

Q: What can people expect at your two-day anniversary bash? Any surprises? Hints?

A: There will be great performances by alumni like Corrine Caouette, who helped set the bar early on for great singers in the show, and the Tin Star Sisters, who most of the Twin Cities fell in love with before they moved to their respective coasts — they sing, tap dance, and play the xylophone and accordion all at the same time. There are over 20 performers appearing and the crazy stories will be flowing.

Le Cirque Rouge 10th Anniversary

When: 7:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat.

Where: Amsterdam Bar & Hall, 6 W. 6th St., St. Paul.

Tickets: $15-$130.