From Iceland — Burlesque Dame Maria Callista Sets The Stage For A Fierce, Elegant Fringe

Burlesque Dame Maria Callista Sets The Stage For A Fierce, Elegant Fringe

Burlesque Dame Maria Callista Sets The Stage For A Fierce, Elegant Fringe

Published July 3, 2020

Hannah Jane Cohen
Photo by
Provided by Maria Callista

Oh, you thought just because there’s not much international travel right now that Reykjavík Fringe Festival would be cancelled? WRONG! It’s back and wackier than ever, with a week-long showcase featuring the best of local performers along with a selection of special live-streamed acts from abroad.

At the Grapevine, we are unapologetic Fringe-addicts, so we’re happy to now present a series of interviews with some of our favourite performers of this year. For this article? The unimaginably titillating burlesque star Maria Callista! She will be gracing the stage at the Túttífrútturnar burlesque show at the Hard Rock Café on July 9th and the Dömur og herra show at Tjarnarbíó on July 11th. Tickets are 2,200 ISK for the Túttífrútturnar show and 2,500 ISK for the Dömur og herra. Tassles not included.

How did you get into burlesque? What attracted you to the art form and how was it getting up on stage for the first time?

I was introduced to burlesque when I was living in London. At the time I performed as a belly dancer so I was already used to the stage when I started doing burlesque. What attracted me to this art form was the creative freedom that you have as an artist.

Maria Callista

Maria Callista. Photo by Elín Björg Guðmundsdóttir.

What is it about burlesque that has kept you interested through the years? How has your style developed?

I love performing and I want to see the scene grow. I think that’s what’s kept me interested. My style has changed a lot since I first started doing burlesque and so has my understanding of the art form. I specialise in classic burlesque now and I continue to develop my style and grow as a performer.

Can you walk me through how you make an act? What’s the process like?

Usually it starts with an idea. Inspiration often comes from a song, a costume, an emotion or movement. Then I start researching to see what is already out there. Sometimes the song comes first, sometimes the costume or the choreography but usually it is a mixture. During this process the act usually changes a lot and often ends up completely different from the original idea. The act is never “completed”, as I am constantly changing or adapting it depending on where or when I perform it.

Maria Callista

Maria Callista. Photo by Elín Björg Guðmundsdóttir.

You’re in two shows this Fringe—can you tell me what an audience member can expect at each?

Expect the unexpected! There will be adult humour, teasing, glamour and a lot of skin. Every show is unique and consists of short acts performed by various performers with different performance styles. Each act links in to the theme of the show with a different approach so there is always something new to enjoy and think about.

Ok, here’s a fun question to end on. Imagine that you have unlimited time and money to develop an act—is there something extravagant you’ve always dreamed about doing onstage?

Yes there is but I can’t tell. Pray that I win the lottery so I can put on the performance of my dreams!

Check out Maria Callista on her website, Facebook, and Instagram. Read more Reykjavík Fringe coverage here.

Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.

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