dancing as an adult.

A conversation I have quite frequently is about my dance troupe.

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“I see that you’re doing burlesque now!” folks will say to me, usually with one eyebrow raised. The statement itself provokes a particular image–a scantily clad woman slowly taking off her clothes to the cheers of others, engaging in consenual objectification, and using her body as a weapon of mass arousal. The raised eyebrow can mean several things–intrigue, disapproval, a “Does your mother know about this?” gaze. 

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Photo by Andrea Coon Photography

“It’s technically not burlesque,” I say to lead into a winded explanation about what my dance troupe is and represents. Although our moves can be cheeky, the sentiment behind what we do is empowerment and appreciation of our female bodies–these incredible beacons of strength and power. We dance not necessarily because we want to get you hot, but to get our own pulses racing–the sheer thrill of being on stage combined with the enjoyment of sisterhood.

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Photo by Andrea Coon Photography

But…what if we were burlesque? What if we got down to pasties and thongs and paraded across the stage–proud of our female forms and grace? What if I made light of sexuality by using only a fan to cover my lady bits, only to reveal that I had on a strap on the entire time? Would this be less empowering? Would this be demoralizing? Would this be anti-feminist?

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Photo by Rodney Smith of Tempus Fugit Designs

There isn’t a short-cut answer to these questions, and I don’t claim to be an expert on everyone’s morality. I know that for me, it’s empowering to learn intensive choreography, wear body forming and flattering outfits, and perform in front of sold-out crowds of people. I know my own strengths and limitations, and it is because of my dance troupe that I have been brave enough to push my own ideas and goals to a whole new threshold. After the music ends, I feel happier and more of a feminist than I ever have in any women’s studies classroom argument.

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Photo by Andrea Coon Photography

I have been living by a particular phrase for awhile now, and I think it definitely applies here: what is good for you, may not be good for me. What is good for me, may not be good for you. That doesn’t make either of us better or worse than the other. I’m no better a woman because I have the confidence to go on stage and get down with my bad self in front of strangers. You are no better because you don’t think you ever will. Being a woman is such a constant struggle of battling our own internal demons–the ideals of body perfection, life balance, and being simultaneously sexy and demure is exhausting. Our identities are not just defined by our talents and interests, but also our bodies and faces. It sucks, to be blunt.

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So if I can find something that chips away at those insecurities of imperfection, and highlights the things I like most about myself…what’s the damage to me? To you? To our society? I would argue that there’s no damage at all…just healing. In the past year and a half, I have grown in leaps and bounds. I am healthier, happier, and stronger than I have been in years. And what do I owe it all to?

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Photo by Rudy Aguilar

A little rump shaking, a whole lot of hairspray, and a ton of hard work and practice.

I encourage you all to find that passion, goal, or vision that relaxes you, frees you, that heals you. There’s no wrong answers when it comes to growth, and I want all the people I care about to explore the potential of these answers. You’re awesome, and the world needs to see it.

So why don’t you show it off?

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Photo by Rudy Aguilar

Come watch me and my troupe work our butts off for you all. “Les Femmes Mystique Presents: Secrets Travel Fast in Paris” is this Friday, April 24th at 8pm. There will be a variety of local acts, including comedy, puppetry, and tarot readings. Early tickets are $12, $15 at the door. Get ’em while you can at http://www.etix.com/ticket/online/performanceSearch.jsp?performance_id=6238215 .

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