Burlesque performance art has been evolving for centuries, but was first introduced to New York by British performer Lydia Thompson in 1868, according to burlesque star Dita von Teese in The Independent.
Neo-burlesque, which emerged in New York in the 1990s, combines a broad range of alternative styles with the traditional form of American burlesque.
Photographer Leland Bobbé worked alongside his producer wife, Robin, to create images of New York’s neo-burlesque performers that “removed them from the stage and served to highlight the formalised essence of their character as individuals and as a persona”.
Bobbé told BuzzFeed that the power of neo-burlesque is rooted in the charisma the performer exerts over the audience, and that nudity is a secondary element to the art and the individual.
The photographs exhibit an honest grittiness, capturing a diverse array of body types portraying confidence and comfort in one’s own skin rather than an airbrushed representation of fantasy.