It’s Thursday y’all and this one is extra sweet as we wrap up our 3-part burlesque student series. Savannah Shay will be signing us off, and we are so excited to share her message with y’all!
Burlesque artistry is special in the sense that everyone is welcome to the table. It holds a retro glam vibe that we can all appreciate as a community are going back in time, but what about the present?
Savannah Shay has a Georgia meets California burlesque vibe. The unique quality she is bringing to the table is how she is making country burlesque her own: keeping it modern.
“I’ve always loved dance but you actually get to a certain age and there’s not a lot of stage performance opportunities that I’ve found especially with my day job. I went to a burlesque show and *all* types of women were on that stage: all different sizes, all different backgrounds and ethnicities and beliefs. Far too often I feel like dance teams are often looking for one type of performer as far as aesthetically and I remember thinking, ‘wow these girls are so different, I wonder if there is room up there for me too?’ These women owned who they were and they weren’t ashamed of it. I was raging with insecurities and these women were proud of who they were and I wanted in on that piece of it.”
“I wanted modern country for my soloist [act], I figured what’s a better name than a name of a city in the Deep South? Then I needed something that sounded good with Savannah that wasn’t on IG already and so Shay just kind of came up- it wasn’t a Game of Thrones reference. I figured I’d take the same word choice and the play-on-words that is Savannah and make it Shay, so it kind of fit.”
claiming the stage with what she wants
“Savannah was a chance for me to do something daring but cling to a little bit more innocence. So I didn’t go down to the pasties; it was a really slow reveal. I really wanted Savannah to embody what it means to try to be different and to more or less lead with insecurities. There’s a part where I smack my booty (laughs lightly), just saying that makes me giggle; And I remember them telling me ‘no, make that smack super hard, the audience should hear it and it should echo’ and I was like ‘but that’s not Savannah, she’s supposed to be the timid, shy girl who leans into knowing that she’s new and that it’s not really her scene but she’s blessed you guys all want to do it.’ She’s literally the sweet hearted wife…it’s that glimpse behind the curtain of wanting to connect on a deeper level.”
“I have a lot of energy in general, but I personally did it [the dance] for my future husband, I’ll be a Mrs this year. I wanted to showcase if my fiancé was gone for 6 months and he was finally coming home, what is that experience like? Are you flirting or getting down to business? I wanted it to respect the sanctity of marriage but also give people that behind-the-scenes vibe.”
what brought SS to burlesque
“I wanted the experience to feel that I belonged on a stage in a powerful way and a way that was authentic for me.”
burlesque as art therapy
“I didn’t think so at first but as I started to fall more and more in love with it, absolutely. I would find during difficult times while creating the act in 6 months, there’s ups-and-downs in everyones life. For me to get through, I would rent out the studio and grab my heels and take it all out on the floor. You get to that point where you *need* to dance, it brings you centered, it brings you back to what’s important in life.”
dance feminist movement vibes
“It feels pretty fucking awesome! I’m blessed they let me get on stage; these women are so talented and I love the neo.”
“Some of the acts are *pretty* sexual, and I remember the first time I went to the first reveal class- the one you practice taking your top off, and a girl just owned it. And I’m sitting here like ‘I don’t even own lingerie, what am I getting into?’ It was that ability to own that experience, it was a beautiful thing and it really opened my eyes up. I knew there was some strong feminine energy coming out of that.”
improving the misconception
“I wish it was it was as mainstream and “appropriate” as other forms, and I get that there are certain things the ladies do that aren’t appropriate for all audiences. I wish it wasn’t so viewed as taboo. I wish I could share my real name and my real story and what got me into it and what the influence was because women today, so many of us are so full of our insecurities that if they just knew that burlesque was out there and that anyone could get into it and anyone could try it… perception of the art form is the biggest uphill battle. Burlesque is very underground and it’s hard to get involved because of that taboo. I wish it was a place that we could own like ‘hey, I happen to be a business woman and I also happen to enjoy burlesque’.”
fave thing @ burlesque
“I love the autonomy. My coach, Coco (pictured below), she guided me for sure. I got to pick what I wanted, I got to express who I was and who I wanted to be on that stage. She was very encouraging the entire time which was pretty exciting for me.”
Savannah’s future vision
“I would love to do more acts, I would love to perform more- always sticking with the sweet hearted country gal and showing those intimate glimpses. It [burlesque] was a bucket list item thing I got to check off. I love performing, I love the creative process behind the performance. I loved figuring out the costume: I wore a men’s shirt for the costume and that for me was like, WOW! I would love to do it every 6 months or a year. I think it’s something that once you do it you cannot NOT do it again.”
Savannah Shay will be returning to the studio in Fall of 2022 so make sure to follow her burlesque journey on Instagram @dancer.savannah.shay.
Jen Acosta. Instagram Handle is @hellofotojen