Back in 1920s America, the Hans Kasemann Midgets were thebiggest little thing in Vaudeville.Travelling from theatre to music hall, the group of littleperformers 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 Picksisters, Olga and Auguste, as well as stunted celebrities Anna
Kasemann, himself a normal-sized if not tallman, 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 andplays satirising the news of the day.And, while the Kasemann Midgets might have beendescribed as a novelty act, they were by no means unique. There were theRoses Royal Midgets and
Vaudeville was a form of varietyentertainment popular in the US until theearly 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.
Back in the days of Hans Kasemanns 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 formdied out in England at the end of the 19th century, but was popular in the U.S. up until the death of Vaudeville. Its longevity in the U.S. was due to the gradual inclusion of exoticdancers 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