Ayoung, Victoria-based choreographer and producer is encouraging people to get comfortable with their sexuality.
Tala Small Wolf – who also goes by her stage name, Chai Tease – launched a burlesque production company, SINnergy Productions, in July 2022. Since then, she is hosting quarterly shows featuring local talent and students from her burlesque dance lessons.
“Burlesque is the art of the tease,” she said. “That can mean almost anything, and range from removing a scarf to stripping completely.”
Small Wolf said she’s choreographed shows ranging from tragedies to parodies of Donald Trump.
“You can make anything and everything a tease.”
Small Wolf entered the world of burlesque six years ago, at a time when she was struggling with an eating disorder. At the time, her favourite movie was Burlesque starring Cher and Christina Aguilera. On a whim, she decided to see if there were any burlesque lessons in town and found something available at Passion and Performance.
“I was always a chubby kid, and kind of told that dance was not for me,” Small Wolf said. “But as soon as I tried it, I was hooked.”
Since then, Small Wolf has come away from her eating disorder with a sense of body neutrality—a viewpoint which accepts the body without always needing to love it, and focuses on its ability to function versus how it looks.
“It’s a journey that is never completely done,” she said. “But it was kind of an awakening. It made me ask ‘oh wow, what made me feel this way about my body in the first place? Why am I subscribing to these ideals?’”
SINnergy Productions has two dance troupes; the Harbingers of Lust is an all-levels class, while the Order of Asmodeus features advanced dancers.
In her classes, she encourages her students to also ask these questions, and to pursue body acceptance.
“I have students of all ages and genders, from 19 to 60,” she said. “Every dance you do, you’re learning about yourself.”
When asked how she approaches people who might criticize or objectify her career transition, Small Wolf said she approaches it positively, but starts “educating hard.”
“Most of the time, they’re just uncomfortable. I talk them through it and welcome them to my classes.”
Small Wolf’s inaugural show with her production company took place in November and completely sold out.
The next show, titled Freaks and Geeks: a Nerdlesque Cabaret, will take place on Feb. 25, and features her troupe dancers as well as performers from across Greater Victoria. Acts will include those themed around Star Wars, Tomb Raider, Pokémon, Dungeons and Dragons and more.
Catch the show at Carlton Club Cabaret, located at 900 Carlton Terrace. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show runs from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
To grab your tickets, head to https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/freaks-geeks-a-nerdlesque-cabaret-tickets-491872181937.
To find out more about SINnergy Productions or to sign up for some classes, head to sinnergyproduction.wixsite.com/sinnergyproductions