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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Love, intimacy and body positivity prevail in Lipstick Burlesque

File Illustration by Lily Ogburn
Lipstick Burlesque’s 90-minute performance featured themed routines like “Yee-Hawties” and “Baristalesque.”

Audiences laughed, gasped and even blushed as burlesque dancers stripped down to lacy lingerie, spun around on the pole and danced with fake penises in the Louis Room at Norris University Center this weekend.

With a lively audience clapping and hollering, Lipstick Burlesque produced its annual show, with dancers like “Oliver Clothesoff” and “Femme Fatale” performing a parade of dance routines that included the cowboy-themed “Yee-Hawties” and the coffee-filled “Baristalesque.”

The 90-minute performance celebrated all bodies, sexualities and identities, aiming to promote empowerment in a burlesque style, according to Lipstick Burlesque co-Producer and Communication junior Samantha Webster.

Communication junior Apollo Umbra often does theater performances, but he said Lipstick Burlesque is the only production that hasn’t made him anxious.

In previous shows, Umbra said, the selectivity of roles felt “segmented” with limits to one producer, one director and one artist.

The welcoming nature of Lipstick didn’t confine him to one role, he said, helping him pursue multiple disciplines, including makeup, choreography and design.

“It’s not like anyone’s telling you how or what to do,” Umbra said. “We’re figuring it out together. There’s not a lot of pressure.”

Participation in the show doesn’t require any dance background, dance skill or any experience in burlesque, Webster said.

Webster said that it’s important for the production to have no audition or cut process to ensure inclusivity in all aspects.

“It’s really important to us that this is for everybody—every ability and every different stage of life,” Webster said. “I think for college students in particular, coming into adulthood and sort of finding themselves, having an open opportunity to express themselves freely and come into their bodies in a dance space without feeling judged or shamed or critiqued is really important.”

Communication sophomore Nadia van den Berg, who attended one of the shows, appreciated the comical and “sexy” mix of performances, ranging from a “Cars” tribute titled “Kachow!” to a Bridgerton-themed performance, “Masked Desire”.

Aside from enjoying the “raunchy” energy, van den Berg said the inclusivity inspired her to potentially participate in the future.

“It just felt like everyone could do it — you didn’t need to be a professional dancer,” she said. “I just loved it. I want to be in it.”

Communication freshman and performer Zakariah Massoud, said the workshops for self-love and intimacy prior to the show prepared them for the level of intimacy required for the production. He said that intimacy with other performers felt “seamless” going into the show.

For each production, the show had a designated security team to ensure that everyone who entered was either a Northwestern student or affiliated with someone who is a student, Webster said. The team checked the ages of audience members to confirm most people were under 25.

The security team also walked through the aisles to verify that audience members weren’t recording the performance to respect the privacy of the performers.

“Consent is something that is really, really important to us in this space,” Webster said. “So making sure that nobody gets filmed, recorded or photographed without their permission is our number one.”

This is Webster’s second time producing Lipstick Burlesque. Despite the strenuous logistical details of the production, she said it’s “ridiculously” worth it.

Webster said the work comes with ease when she gets to welcome a new cast and returning members each year and see their confidence grow throughout the process.

“It really is the gift that keeps on giving,” Webster said. “It’s just a really beautiful, magical thing to be able to create.”

Email: [email protected]
X: @betsy_lecy

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