body positive

Twerkshop--A lesson in moving my ass

6:59:00 AM

Now that I'm settled back in Colorado, I wanted to connect with the local burlesque community, find like minded performers and add to my skill set. I signed up for the Twerkshop with Boulder Burlesque not knowing what to expect. None of this existed when I left for California five years ago. I wasn't familiar with the instructor, Madame Merci, or what her idea of burlesque might be--and there are many ideas with which I'm not in alignment. I've been disappointed with many a class I've taken. It's nice walking away from a class having learned something about myself, but, it sucks feeling uninspired. So, I was nervous that it wouldn't be my cup of tea. However, Boulder Burlesque uses the term "Conscious Burlesque" so my interest was piqued and I made some assumptions about what that may mean. I try to grow from every moment, opportunity, struggle or victory and my burlesque and nudie life is no exception. I assumed this workshop would give us a safe space to explore hangups and get over them with some sort of spiritual angle. And I was pretty on point in that regard. 

We met at a super cute dance studio in Boulder, Kakes Studio. I was greeted by Madame Merci and the studio owner and changed into most of my K9 costume. I used my silver booty shorts and sparkly bikini top (triangle bra) made by Ms. Red Snapper. I also had on my showgirl style fishnets, which ended up being a blessing and a curse. One other student showed up and the four of us got started.

We began by sitting in a circle, sharing a bit about our individual ass journey. Women face a lot of body shaming and there was no shortage of that story here and it was clear that body shaming creates deep wounds. However, we all seemed to share in some sort of eventual epiphany that our asses are amazing and found power and beauty in embracing that. Imagine how many women never find that healing and love for themselves :-( Fuck body shaming.

My big, beautiful ass during a video shoot with Bunnie Butt Productions

We also touched on the fact that, in our culture, the ass is seen as particularly dirty and naughty. We shit and fart from our ass and everyone has experienced swamp-ass at some point in life. But, in the Twerkshop, while we acknowledged that, we were only going to focus on the ass awesomeness. We did a quick meditation to fall into our bodies in the space and to envision what we would like to experience and how we can develop our characters. Soooo Boulder, right? I fuckin love it. Most of us made note that we connected with a sense of confidence or bravery and we all had intentions for some sort of character development. 

We did a booty warm up and then jumped into choreography that focused on the butt. Madame Merci was fantastic at describing the move and then showing us. We got lucky with the small class size too because it was much easier for her to watch us and give us constructive feedback. I learned to move my body and ass in ways I had only dreamed of moving. I never thought I could do some of these sexy moves. I'm awkward and generally focus on humor and storytelling so it felt amazing to know I could also be one of the sexy, mysterious women I have admired from afar (see--Ms Red Snapper, Sheila Star Siani, Caramel Knowledge, Donnatella MeLies, Scarlett Letter, et al).

After learning one set of choreo we took a quick break and then jumped into choreo for another song that we would add solo choreo too as well. Madame Merci gave us quite a workout to Mystical's "Shake ya ass",  then we broke off to create our solo choreo. We each contributed some fun and creative moves. My muscles are still sore. 

There was an event in the building next to us and some of the male attendees kept coming over to get water while we were twerking, grabbing and slapping our asses. We were able to lasso one of them into recording our final choreo for us. This guy had no idea what he was getting into and seemed somewhat annoyed until he had four luscious asses shaking in his face. At the end, he asked if he could text it to himself because no one would ever believe he just watched what he just watched. ;-) 

Madame Merci's teaching style made it very easy for me to learn and remember the choreo. And she calls each move rather than counting!!!!! For me that was HUGE! I have no formal dance training and my acts tend to be heavily narrative,  so having the freedom to concentrate on how my body felt, how things were moving, and how I was telling a story with my body--instead of focusing on counting--was fantastic and made me feel even more confident! I picked up the choreo faster than I have in any other class I've ever taken before. I was able to be very much in the moment and put more of myself into each move, instead of feeling frustrated trying to keep time. I loved, loved, loved it! My performer self esteem shot through the roof!

We did a lot of floor work. A lot! More than I've ever done in my life. The fishnets helped with sliding on the floor with my ass in the air while doing an ass shimmy, but they cut into my skin and my knees were on fire by the end of class. This morning I noticed some bruises... But, I sincerely enjoyed all the floor work so I guess I need to look into getting some sparkly knee pads. 

We gathered back into a circle at the end of class and checked in with each other about how we felt, what we learned about ourselves, how we might have grown, etc. It was great to learn from my classmates and Madame Merci and I left the class feeling inspired, invigorated and sexy. I rarely feel sexy, so it was kind of a big deal! 

Madame Merci teaches classes in Boulder, San Francisco and (hopefully) Los Angeles. If this sounds like a class or instructor you would resonate with, I highly suggest taking one of her classes.

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