PowerPoint Presentation: Back in 1920s America, the Hans Kasemann Midgets were the biggest little thing in Vaudeville. Travelling from theatre to music hall, the group of little performers put on dance routines and comedy skits to delighted audiences across the U.S. While they stopped short of doing the full monty , like modern burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese , they were at least more likely to fit in an actual martini glass (rather than the over-sized receptacle that Von Teese uses). The Hans Kasemann troupe featured the pint-sized Pick sisters, Olga and Auguste , as well as stunted celebrities Anna Rockel and Willie Rolle - all singing, all dancing, all vertically challenged.
PowerPoint Presentation: Little and large: Kasemann , seated at the piano, with Willie Rolle , Auguste Pick, Anna Rockel and Olga Pick
PowerPoint Presentation: Kasemann , himself a normal-sized if not tall man, formed the troupe in his native Germany but moved the show to the U.S. in the early 1920s. While he tickled the ivories of a full-sized piano, the tiny stars sang and danced around him. At other times they took over the stage entirely, performing vignettes and plays satirising the news of the day. And, while the Kasemann Midgets might have been described as a novelty act, they were by no means unique. There were the Rose's Royal Midgets and the Rossow Midgets, as well as the Klinkhart Midgets... to name but a few.
PowerPoint Presentation: Vaudeville was a form of variety entertainment popular in the US until the early 1930s. Each show was a collection of unrelated acts grouped together on one stage. Musicians, comedians, dancers, magicians, animals, acrobats, and actors all got their 15 minutes of fame on the Vaudevillian stage.
PowerPoint Presentation: Back in the days of Hans Kasemann's and Klinkhart’s Midgets, 'burlesque' had a different meaning to the striptease style or performance we know today. Burlesque was a literary, dramatic or musical work intended to be a humorous caricature of serious literature, drama or music. The art form died out in England at the end of the 19th century, but was popular in the U.S. up until the death of Vaudeville. It's longevity in the U.S. was due to the gradual inclusion of exotic dancers and strippers. The change was gradual but nonetheless inevitable, and the word came to by synonymous with nudity. Famous burlesque dancers of the day included Gipsy Rose Lee and Margie Hart, and many famous comedians - including Mae West, Abbott and Costello and W.C. Fields made their names by being bawdy MCs for the dancers.