Uncovering a Richmond Gem
This was one of my most anticipated, yet challenging, Brandcenter assignments. After an entire summer of searching across the internet for a topic I could call my own nothing felt, right. That was until I was at a coffee shop and noticed a cork board plastered with community fliers.
Seeing the big bold “AfroTease” across a curvy silhouette, of who I would discover was the shows producer, Vanessa Chevelle, I was shocked.
A black burlesque show? In Richmond, Virginia at that?
I didn’t have to think about twice about it.
Dismantling the tropes of nude performance art and the wack ass notions against curvy black bodies.
All while basking in the glory that is being their entire selves — shape, size and hue.
Not only did I personally want to explore what it meant to celebrate and embrace our bodies as black women in this type of art form — I wanted to understand how burlesque viewed them and the legacy they are hoping to leave behind.
Uncovered Their Muggle Person Personified
From a simple choice of music to a fraction of raw emotion, burlesque is used as a way to show a side that the rest of the world normally does not get to see. The use of satire and interpretive movement help audiences peek into their lives while maintaining sex appeal.
“On stage, Gigi is vodka,“ says Gigi Holliday, co-founder of Chocolate City Burlesque and Cabaret, “In real life, Gigi is a potato. I just want to go home and read my books.”
Burlesque isn’t just a performance art. It gives them a platform to build their voice, share their own story, it was a permission to own it.