Body by burlesque

By Megan Lieberman, News Staff

While putting on a few pounds drives most to the gym, some are choosing to improve the way they see their bodies through a different means:  burlesque dancing.

Burlesque for a Better Body Image, is a beginner’s dance class led by burlesque dancer and instructor, Amber Knight, known to most as Honey Suckle Duvet. Knight has been holding her workshops for over a year, coaching aspiring dancers and shy newcomers alike to love the skin they’re in.
“I want my students to learn the aspects of dance, but also be able to take the confidence that comes with burlesque and apply that to everyday life,” said Knight.
Knight’s ultimate objective: To teach women to be confident in their body regardless of shape and size.
Knight’s burlesque classes are held in dance studios throughout Boston, most recently at the Dance Complex in Cambridge.  They are advertised as classes for women of all ages and sizes, and Knight said that is exactly who comes.
“They are small classes, usually 10 women, ranging from their mid-20s up to ages 50 and 60,” said Knight.  “Some women are here to learn to perform onstage, but lately, more and more women are here for a partner and for themselves.”
Sam Viola, a freshman physical therapy major who dances with the No Limits Dance Crew at Northeastern said she commends using a dance class to boost women’s self-confidence.
“Women are often hard on themselves when it comes to body image, and doing something that’s fun to change that idea is great,” Viola said.
Emily Kales, professor of psychology, said there’ a huge connection between women’s bodies and their self-esteem.
“In today’s society there is a lot of body hatred as promoted by the media,” said Kales.
The body ideal that the media has created pushes women to feel worse about their own bodies creates what Kales refers to as a “vicious cycle.” This cycle is experienced when women feel they are “too fat” to go out and have fun. Instead, explained Kales, they will stay in, eat more, and become less and less confident in their bodies.

“Though an alternative method, a burlesque class targeting women of all sizes could teach women to accept their bodies,” said Kales.

“Lately, all I see the media promoting is ‘the skinnier, the better,’” said senior math major Ashley Gartland. She agreed that a class that teaches women to feel sexy for themselves is what society needs.

“Women shouldn’t care what others think, and a class that is aiming to teach message while getting exercise sounds like a great idea,” she said.

Knight will be holding more Intro to Burlesque for a Better Body Image classes starting in the fall. She wants to continue to promote the idea of a self-confidence in women throughout Boston. Each workshop is two hours and costs $25.
“I want each of my students to leave the class with a ‘head held high’ attitude,” Knight said. “Getting into character and learning to feel good about your body is the most important lesson that can be learned in the class.”

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