Body image and burlesque: boot camp uses burlesque to build confidence

September 23, 2013


Can burlesque improve your body image?

It worked for Laina Copley and now she’s hoping to help other women discover their own body love through burlesque.

Copley got into burlesque – the old-school vaudeville style performance combining sexiness with sass and humor that’s had a comeback in the pasy couple of decades – a few years ago when she was living in Boulder. When the Santa Cruz native moved back here, she started her own troupe, the Santa Cruz Sirens, in which she performs under the name Honey Divine.

Copley has been dancing for years but she also wears a couple of other hats – she runs her own health coaching business and works at the Lotus Collaborative, a Santa Cruz-based eating disorder recovery center. As someone who struggled with her own eating disorder and body image issues, she has seen firsthand how embracing burlesque culture can really help a woman learn to love and be comfortable with her own body.

Burlesque has been a really important part of her own recovery, and that led her to think about how to combine both her health and diet coaching with burlesque.

“The major tenet of burlesque is that all bodies are beautiful,” says Copley. “You’re not having to tuck this in, or put your Spanx on – everything’s showing and you’re still beautiful -that’s what’s awesome.

(A piece about just this concept ran on the website Buzzfeed earlier this year.)

Doing burlesque provides performers with tons of positive reinforcement and validation that you’re OK how you are, she says.

“Burlesque is kind of a breath of fresh air,” she adds. “It’s come as you are and it can be a really positive experience.

And that’s precisely what Copley wants to emphasize in the new eight-week class she’s put together called  ”Body Love Burlesque Boot Camp.” The class will focus on building and developing a burlesque character and learning dance moves as well as promoting female solidarity and relationships.

It’s billed as:

Ever wonder why burlesque dancers seem so damn confident and sexy, no matter what their shape or size? 
This 8-week course will give you the space to find comfort and confidence in your own body, connect with other women in a supportive environment, and unleash your inner burlesque goddess!

“I’m hoping the women (in the class) will gain the experience of feeling very supported by women,” Copley says.

The class will culminate in a private performance where the class participants will get a chance to try out their burlesque acts and see what their fellow classmates have come up with.

Participants will learn how to use triggers from their own life in their performances, as well as learning choreography, technicalities about costuming and how to use music, among other things.

“I think what’s so cool about burlesque is that the performer really is in control,” Copley explains. “The performer is pulling the strings.”

Body Love Burlesque Boot Camp begins Oct. 2 and will be held Wednesdays from 7 to 8 p.m. through Nov. 20 at the Tannery Arts Center.  It costs $347 but Copley really wants to promote the idea of female bonding so she’s encouraging women to sign up with a friend. As an incentive, it’s just $299 per person if you sign up with a friend and Copley is also offering a payment installment plan for those who need it.

Copley, who will be running the class entirely by herself, will also be giving a free talk about body image and burlesque this Wednesday night, Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. The talk takes place at Art Du Jour, a new arts space located at 7 Squid Row in downtown Santa Cruz.

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One Response to Body image and burlesque: boot camp uses burlesque to build confidence

  1. Robyn McCool
    September 26, 2014 at 8:06 am

    Hi! I am trying to find a burlesque class in Santa Cruz…I checked Tannery Arts and Motion Pacific, both whom I was told held classes but can’t find any on their schedules. Do you teach somewhere locally and have space for one more?
    Thanks so much!

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