Since its beginnings, burlesque has been an art form centred around liberation and humour, sometimes with cheeky commentary about societal norms.
Many performers find burlesque to be liberating and a space where they can find empowerment in accepting and owning their own bodies.
For performer and producer Sloane Chomeakwich (pronouns they/them), they wanted to create an event that really celebrated that fact.
“My body changed a lot over the last few years with Covid, and I started noticing that at most, drag shows and a few burlesque shows would have one fat performer, if that,” said Chomeakwich. “I wanted to have a local show that featured only fat performers as a pushback and to showcase the body diversity and talent.”
As producer of Brick & Lavender Productions, Chomeakwich is producing the event Thick: An Evening of Fat Celebration at Victoria Event Centre.
Featuring a cast of big bodies and big talent, Thick is bringing another night of drag, burlesque and more to the stage. This show is about embracing fat joy and challenging society’s stigma through art.
“Drag and burlesque performers use themselves and their actions on stage to tell us the story. This creates an opportunity for folks to work with their bodies and get to know what it’s capable of. It creates an opportunity to appreciate and love your body and what you can create with it,” Chomeakwich said.
The show first launched in April, and Chomeakwich said the response was “amazing.”
“We sold out even while happening on the same night as another well-known burlesque event. The evening was filled with love – from the performers to the crowd. Many audience members spoke with us after the show to let us know how included and represented they felt during the show,” they added.
Studies have shown that dance, when used as an intervention, results in decreased internalized sexism, classism, racism and ageism. When used as an empowerment intervention in adolescents and adult women, studies show improvements in mental health functioning as well. Therein lies the power of dance in the art form of burlesque and drag.
While Chomeakwich said that they find the burlesque scene in Victoria to have a lot of body diversity and be “very accepting,” there is always room for improvement.
Thick: An Evening of Fat Celebration takes place Sunday, Nov. 26 at the Victoria Event Centre. Show is at 8 p.m, ages 19 plus. Tickets are $20 in advance through victoriaeventcentre.ca or $25 at the door.