I started performing on stage at 15 in a church play. The theatre bug bit hard, and I was in dozens of plays over the course of 10+ years.  But it wasn’t until I was 27 that I stumbled upon burlesque when a girlfriend invited me to see a show she was in.

At the show, I was immediately drawn to the sexy, silly, body positive environment. I discovered that these female performers not only created their own costumes and choreography, but ran things behind the scenes.

Not thinking too much of it, I thought I’d try it out – I’d been half-dressed on stage for many shows! Yet, I was still shaking like a leaf at my first show. It was a sultry solo to Nina Simone’s “More & More” and when I left the stage, I felt victorious!

I’d never considered this a life direction, but my burlesque career had begun.

What is Burlesque?

– Creativity
Using what you’ve got to say something – acting, dancing, singing, costuming
Variety of types of burlesque – classic bump & grind, sexy, funny, political, absurd
– Camaraderie
A community of open-minded artists (both hobbyists & professionals)
Embracing being the center of attention as well as working in ensembles
– Courage
Doing something new and daring that only you can do for yourself
An act of vulnerability that builds confidence – many people hold being naked in public as their biggest nightmare – to overcome the fear of being ”exposed” by intentionally disrobing in public is profoundly powerful

Who Performs Burlesque?

Burlesque is for every body. Old, young, fat, thin, black, white, female, male – and every body in between these binaries. Burlesque is a celebration of diversity and what makes each body’s story special.

Burlesque is for people who want a more daring way to practice self-care – by cultivating time to learn and practice new skills (dancing, acting, singing, public speaking, sewing, hair, makeup).

Burlesque is for people who want an effortless way to exercise and tune into their body (via classes and personal rehearsal).

Burlesque is for people who want an excuse to buy new lingerie.

Burlesque is for people who want to simply “BE” with themselves – to discover what they can create for no other reason than it feels good! You are worthy of joy!

Why Burlesque?

Vaudezilla is an environment that supports personal change and transformation by accepting you as-is, no exceptions.

Burlesque allows you to tap into a part of yourself that you may never have known was even there. Perhaps you feel you can be “cute,” but not ”sexy” – the community and art form rewards taking risks and stepping outside of your comfort zone.

Tease is about your relationship with control – you can practice control by holding the audience’s attention and also let go of control by giving into the moment without regard to what the audience (or anyone else) thinks.

This art form is about developing your own creative voice – It’s about putting your own “spin” on things – how do you show up in the world? Who do you tell other that you are? Who do you tell yourself you are?

Final Thoughts

Burlesque brings me joy because as a teacher and show producer, I can give the gift of an outside perspective that accepts and honors each person’s experience. What makes us different is what makes us beautiful.  I love being integral an ensemble or class – to be of service by holding space and opening doors to thrilling, transformative new experiences for my students and cast.  One 60 minute burlesque class has the power to flip the script – shifting you into a new awareness of your dynamic with an audience of 1,000 or just 1.

Learn more about Vaudezilla! Chicago Burlesque Show & Classes at Vaudezilla.com

Content provided by Women Belong member Ann Marie Weinert