In my last post, I talked about valuing ourselves as “real” and “legitimate” dancers. This is obviously important so that as we enter the consciousness of the mainstream we are treated with the respect we want and deserve. This brought up alot of thought for me about the culture of dance in Western society and what Burlesque can bring to the table.
I have also previously discussed how I felt some of the true beauty in Burly Q lies in its imperfections and in its humanity. That there are no restrictions based on age, weight, sex, race, or ability. Because this is such a self directed art, the worth and value of a performer can be expressed in so many different ways that look past the boundaries we usually hold ourselves up against. I can’t because I’m not good enough at whatever because of whatever doesn’t really exist here. And that is amazing. What we have created is accessibility.
I had a friend recently come back from a trip to Tahiti. She has been a few times now and is just absolutely in love with the culture and I can see why. From our talks about it, what I understand is this:
So like most early cultures, Dance played a giant role in the lives of the Tahitians. They danced to greet visitors, to pray, to challenge a rival or to seduce a potential mate (meow!). This brings us to the part of the story that sucks. And like most early cultures, mother fucking white people showed up and ruined the party. When the first British colonists and missionaries came to Tahiti they believed the dances to be provocative and offensive and in 1820 abolished most forms of dance. BOOO! And again, like most early cultures, the assimilation almost destroyed them. However, in the 1950s a full on renaissance occurred and dance was back! Now they have a month long festival yearly that everyone prepares for year round. And I mean EVERYONE! The whole island dances. Everyone. Entire villages meet to rehearse for the festival. I was absolutely amazed by this!! How was possible that everyone was ABLE to participate? My friend told me that its not uncommon to see villages gathering in a field to learn and practice. Wowwww!!! Dancing has once again become a giant part of the culture, legacy and healing of these people.
I told this story because I am so inspired by it. I want dance to be accessible for everyone in our culture. And right now, Burlesque is I think, one of the most accessible of dance forms. And I think the healthiest because there are no restrictions about who can or can’t participate. Obviously the cream of the crop will rise to the top but there are opportunities everywhere for the newest of the new to try it out. I know there are alot of boo being said about if people use it as feel good tool are going to ruin it because they simply aren’t good enough. But like I said, the cream of the crop will rise to the top!!! And I think that everyone in this art (exception being those with previous nude dancing experience) had to come to terms with ideas about their body and it being naked and what their ideas about naked bodies in general should look like before that first performance. The diversity in the bodies of the performers because we aren’t telling anyone you need to be this or that also teaches us that same idea. And I think that is a beautiful thing. Because it challenges you. It changes your ideas about what that naked body needs to be. And yes. I think that is a healthy thing for our culture to come to terms with as a whole because currently the standard isn’t based on anything other than making you feel bad so you buy something to try and fix it.
And I think about how happy I am when I am able to dance- and how good it feels to dance with others and I wish everyone could and would have the opportunities I had that lead me here. I love that there are people in our troupe that now have a chance to enjoy what I have for so many years. And I can see how happy it makes them. How Burlesque has changed their lives for the better because they are able to express themselves through dance! And how being part of group dancing together creates a feelings of unity and positivity. There is so much to be said about being a part of something bigger than yourself.
And this is why I am here. I have a performing background and if this wasn’t available, I am sure I would still be performing. And I would be trying to develop myself in other modalities. I could be doing that right now instead. But I don’t want to be a musical theatre actor or a modern dancer. I want to be a Burlesque Dancer. For a variety of reasons- but they also include the positivity and community that come with it. I love that Burlesque is accessible. I think its important. And I want it to stay that way.