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Burlesque, Power & Freedom

Updated: Sep 20, 2022

Image reads "From the desk of Po'Chop"

A black woman smiles through her hands that are framing her face in a circle. She is wearing black and white checked gloves accented with red feather trim.

Audre Lorde quote on red background with white text. Reads, " Difference is that raw and powerful connection from which our personal power is forged." Quote from the essay "The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House."

I came into this world different. Ma says that when I was young we'd be walking hand in hand down a well-paved path. I'd take my hand from hers and walk among tall grass, carving my own way.

Burlesque helped me acknowledge my personal power forged in my difference. It took time. Wading in discomfort. Attempting to mold myself into the imagery often associated with burlesque. Glamour and rhinestones. Big band jazz and feather fans. Performing burlesque through this lens didn’t honor my power. I realized that, for me, burlesque is about personal power and liberation.

A black woman dancing in a long flowing white dress. Among her are seated audiences members looking up at her. Her arms of above her head. Her lower body is blurred by movement. Image take from Jamila Woods Unfolded. Photo x Maria Jose Govea

Burlesque, the artform of satirizing and striptease, is rooted in revealing and reveling in one's truest self.

a Group of burlesque students at House of the Lorde. In the foreground a student is performing a tease. Eyes closed air mid flip, they are lost in their world of confidence and seduction. In the background 3 fellow students and Po'Chop look upon in support. They are smiling
Burlesque students at House of the Lorde | MC Newman

I learned how to revel in my power and touch my freedom. This is my aim as a burlesque instructor. To create a space that encourages us all to touch both our power and joy-filled freedom. Just as with my burlesque journey, in the classroom we start with classic burlesque movement as an embodied envisioning. A way of asking, "This is what was…What else can be?”

Burlesque students at House of the Lorde. They are practicing glove peels.
Burlesque Students at House of the Lorde | MC Newman

We bevel our feet and shimmy our shoulders so that we can take note of how this movement sits in our bodies. We use classic burlesque movement to break away from the practice of folding ourselves into shapes but rather as an invitation to allow the movement to find home in our bodies. It ain't a class with me unless I exclaim, "Now let it go and make it yours!" We all ain’t gotta shimmy the same but it is my aim that we all do it down a path forged by our personal power.

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