Crazy Horse Paris
Lyric Theatre, HK Academy for Performing Arts
Reviewed: September 13
First things first: yes, the girls are really naked and, yes, they are gorgeous. Forever Crazy offers 80 minutes of beautifully toned bare breasts and buttocks, with just a small patch over the genital area. Those interested in the artistic content of the show can continue reading - the rest of you don't have to bother.
Le Crazy Horse was started in Paris in 1951 by Alain Bernardin, a connoisseur of avant-garde art and beautiful women who combined both passions in shows that became legendary for their artistic take on nude performance.
The concept consists of short routines, individual performances and ensembles where all the girls look identical, their nude bodies "dressed" in clever lighting - Bernardin's trademark.
The precision these lighting effects hinge on means all performers must be the same height and build (auditions require measurements from nipple to nipple and navel to pubis).
Outstanding group numbers include two small gems of surreal theatre: Bernardin's Legmania, where legs and brilliant lighting create mesmerising visual effects; and Cirque du Soleil choreographer Philippe Decouflé's Upside Down, which uses mirrors to create stunning reflections. Chain Gang, in which a cat-like girl finds novel ways to make use of the bars of a cage, was the raunchiest individual routine, thanks to an impassioned performance by Yafa Yemalla.
Overall, however, the show is not erotic - too many numbers look dated and it's all too sanitised, although the dancers produce a few sexy moments when they let rip.
Also, this type of show needs to be seen in the intimacy of a nightclub and broken up with food, champagne and conversation. Presenting routine after routine in succession is too repetitive.
Above all, the show needs the right atmosphere, and that depends on the audience. In a culture so repressed that men take photos up women's skirts and women die of cancer because they're too inhibited to check their own breasts, it was clear many spectators were there out of curiosity to see naked bodies live.
The dancers, beautiful, talented and with the courage to be nude on stage, were greeted with apathy. Guest artist Robert Muraine's contortionist routine received rapturous applause - at last the audience had found something it felt comfortable with.