Editor’s Note: Stage names are used in place of real names to protect the identities of the members.
Corsets, garters and all that jazz sparkled the night with body positivity that only the burlesque troupe, Alpha Psi Ecdysia, knows how to prove.
Alpha Psi Ecdysia (A.P. E.) presented their show, “The Bitching Hour,” on Nov. 2 and 3 in Parker Theatre.
“I do burlesque because I want to feel more comfortable with my sexuality and my body, and I love making people laugh and entertained in my own way,” said Co-President Busty R. Keaton. “I love the applause and the diversity of how everyone interprets it.”
Busty R. Keaton and Miss Cherry Jackson are the co-presidents of the burlesque club as of the Fall 2018 semester. Together, along with the rest of their e-board, Scorpio’s Paradise and Succubish, they organize the shows and rehearsals to ensure all performers get their chance in the spotlight. The troupe puts together one show on campus per semester, with two consecutive performances.
“Burlesque is the thing that made me comfortable with who I am. It made me appreciate my shape, how my body moves and all of the little things that I used to hate,” said fourth-year communication disorders major and performer, Dirty Dan. “It’s an environment that promotes self-love and you’re surrounded by people who are trying to do just that. We all scream and cheer for each other no matter what we do. It has empowered me and continues to each day.”
Lucinda Sans founded the troupe in 2008 and it is the Hudson Valley’s only undergraduate burlesque troupe. The troupe is dedicated to creating a body-positive, inclusive safe space for people to have fun, dance and explore their sexualities.
“Burlesque is a performance of sexuality—that doesn’t make it sexy though,” Keaton said. “Sexuality can be funny, it can be dark, it can be disturbing. No matter how we choose to represent it, everything we do is burlesque.”
Burlesque began in Great Britain and France and was then integrated into American musical theater in the late 1800s to early 1900s.
“Burlesque is a striptease dance that performs sexuality,” Jackson said. “It can address issues within sexuality or politics or gender or Batman or whatever the heck you want or nothing at all.”
The show had 18 different acts, all paired with different songs and kittens to bring the strip-teasing to new heights. Taking place the weekend after Halloween, the club carried the spooky season into the beginning of November.
“We chose ‘The Bitching Hour’ because Halloween is a broad enough theme for everyone to shine,” Keaton said.
Upon first joining the troupe, the performers start at the entry-level position known as “kitten,” in which they act as stage-hands, picking up the spare clothes and props from every act. They can also be used in other members’ acts while they work on building their own personas. “Kittening” helps new members build up confidence to perform their own acts the following semester.
“Being able to express myself and the issues I feel are important through performing make me feel empowered,” said fourth-year digital media production major and performer, Vesper Monroe. “This club has given me a new confidence in myself, and made me feel more comfortable in my own skin.”
After the performers have completed their kittening semester, they have the opportunity to perform their “deboobie,” which is their debut act, where they can take part in the strip-teasing themselves.
“I do burlesque because I’ve always been passionate about dance and this is a more self-fulfilling outlet. When I’m dancing, I’m in my happy place. I’m empowered and inspired every day by the people I surround myself with,” said third-year psychology major and performer, Mimi Franklin. “Everyone’s love and positivity radiates and shines for people to see. Burlesque allows me to flaunt what I want, be creative and love my body!”
A.P. E. meets every Thursday and Saturday to practice for their acts, build personas and teach valuable burlesque skills. Some of these skills include making pasties and costumes, learning how to take off clothes and how to sexually entice the audience by using only their body.
“This troupe empowers me specifically because of all the amazing members that care about me and each other,” Jackson said. “They boost me and each other up everyday.”