A vedette is the main female artist of a show derived from cabaret and its subcategories of revue, vaudeville, music hall or burlesque. The purpose of the vedette is to entertain and captivate the public. Vedettes are expected to sing, dance and act on stage. Particularly accomplished artistes are considered super vedettes or first vedettes. Vedettes often appear alongside groups of dancers, flashy and revealing costumes, magicians, comedians, jugglers, or even performing animals. Vedettes specializing in burlesque generally do striptease and may also perform nude on stage.
In the 20th century, vedette shows were successful in the cabarets, theaters and nightclubs of countries such as Spain, France, Argentina and Mexico. Paris and Las Vegas were considered the main cradle of the vedettes.
Vedette is a French word originally used to designate an artist of great fame and notoriety. The term underwent changes over the years. From the early twentieth century, it began to be used to designate the main female artists of the shows of a cabaret such as burlesque, vaudeville, music hall or revue. The zenith of fame and popularity of these women coincided with various historical moments of 20th century sexual liberation: the 1920s, 1940s and 1970s.
The vedettes began their rise in popularity in France at the beginning of the 20th century. After France, they have gained greater popularity in Latin countries, both in Europe (Spain) and North and South America (Argentina and Mexico), where they caused a furor in the nightlife at different times. The term is little used in English-speaking countries, although in the United States there are very popular shows of cabaret and burlesque in Las Vegas, where it is often confused with showgirls. Venues such as Le Lido, the Moulin Rouge, and the Crazy Horse in France, the Teatro Maipo and the Teatro El Nacional in Argentina, and the Teatro de la Ciudad “Esperanza Iris” in Mexico are or were famous for their vedette shows.