How were they so confident? How were they so...naked?! How were they so courageous? How were they so unapologetic?! What super kombucha smoothie they were drinking? What tantric Oprah yoga meditation they were doing? What secret feminist cult did they belong to? I had to know what this magic was. It was burlesque.
Burlesque is a literary, musical and dramatic style of performance art that was originally intended back in the early 1800s to make fun of a topic or a subject. The root of the word burlesque, burla, comes from the Italian word meaning to joke or mock. Burlesque has its roots in taboo social-political commentary and relies heavily on satire and silliness to convey a message. As the genre of burlesque has evolved, it has taken the form of variety shows, cabarets, vaudeville and theatre shows. More contemporary burlesque is also synonymous with story-telling, sensuality, and striptease.
I choose the medium of burlesque because it is so diverse and eclectic. I am able to integrate my jazz, modern, hip hop, Latin and ballroom dance backgrounds. Burlesque includes story-telling, process work, dance, ritual, puppetry, pageantry, song, spoken word, spectacle, humor and so much more. The creativity and opportunity for self-expression is limitless.
Here is how an audience member described what I do:
"I have seen undressed female bodies shamed or ridiculed, used to sell products, as a source of inadequacy, used to attract attention, used as billboards, twisted and contorted digitally. Yet I can think of hardly any other incidents in my life where female bodies were actively, intentionally used by the people in possession of those bodies for a deeply healing, forgiving purpose. What a profound and unusual action." - Sinner Saint Burlesque audience member
I believe if we are going to make a shift in consciousness, in policy, and in our own homes to liberate and celebrate the feminine, it is urgent and imperative that women lead that charge. The burlesque I produce is designed to give voice to multifaceted qualities, personalities, stories and experiences of women. Through embodied story-telling my troupe challenges internalized oppression, we explore the range of experiences being human what has to offer, and we create empathy between ourselves and an audience.
The burlesque I produce is not for the attention, acceptance and consumption of men. It is for the restoration of the feminine. It is a rare and unusual thing to see an embodied woman who accepts her vulnerability, pleasure, worthiness and power. These role models, these archetypes, rarely exist. It is our right and responsibility to create them - to construct a new feminine leader.