March 20, 2009

pandora van rensburg

Filed under: peter engblom — ABRAXAS @ 12:27 am

A lot of people know a little about Siener van Rensburg and his visions, many take them with a large pinch of salt & others add a little Tequila. There may be a coherent story hidden in these visions as some facts balance perfectly modern occurrences. His stories consist of four main parts. One of them contains extensive reference to the “fall of the European Government”, while another one deals entirely with the modern day struggle between the USA and the extremist revolutionaries that follow Islam. He noted that the vierkleur would be flying above the Union Buildings when the ice began to melt, that around this time Koeberg power station would blow up, that the world economy would collapse, the Kruger millions would be found, etc. These visions were all recorded by his daughter some time before his death in 1926.

What many people do not know is that his granddaughter, Pandora van Rensburg, was the first Burlesque performer in Africa. The Boer commandos had a hard time fighting the British forces and there was little or no entertainment for them. Pandora set up a little dance troupe and traveled the various frontlines with her ostrich feathers. Weather this was motivated by patriotism or greed we will never know. What we do know is that she was so successful that she eventually toured the country in a pink sedan, and there are rumors that she may have performed in St Helena, Bermuda and Ceylon for the imprisoned Boer troupes at no cost to these bitter patriots. Pandora carried her ostrich feathers in an old guitar case and this eventually became known as Pandoras Box in Afrikaans known as Pandora se doos.

Pandoras live shows for Springbok Cigarettes predated most live advertising in the country and many of her pioneering ideas were later used on the radio station named after this Burlesque show. Many people think that “burlesque” means female strippers walking a runway to a bump and grind beat. But that only fits this form in its later years. At its best, burlesque was a rich source of music and comedy that kept audiences laughing.

Underdressed women performed as sexual aggressors, combining good looks with impertinent comedy, and all this was in a production written and managed by a woman. Unthinkable in those times. No wonder the commandos turned out in droves, making Pandora and her “Boer Burlesque” the hottest thing from Pretoria to Potchefstroom. Demand for tickets was such that she held a special command performance for President Kruger and his generals in his stables behind his house in Pretoria.

Pandoras principal legacy was her shifting of patterns of gender representation that forever changed the role of the woman on the South African stage. The sight of a female body, not hidden by the accepted norms of respectability, forcefully if playfully, called attention to the entire question of the “place” of woman in society.

One Response to “pandora van rensburg”

  1. Fox Says:

    Black Orchid Burlesque is the first Burlesque Troupe to start up in South Africa after the Pandora Days.


    The costumes are more lavish and over the top and the shows are classy and sophisticated!