Embracing the female form through dance

Tenille Lindeque strikes a pose.

Learning to love the female body and celebrating it for what it is and not for what it’s not, is what drives Rosebank burlesque dance instructor Tenille Lindeque.

The 37-year-old Lady Magnolia, as she’s known on stage, has been training women to embrace their sensuality and inner beauty, through her Rouge Revue Burlesque company for eight years.

She says she has always had dance in her heart and did modern dancing as a teenager. She also enjoys belly dancing, and teaches it as well. Tenille says burlesque dancing is for all women, all ages and sizes.

“Burlesque does not objectify women, as the women bring more to burlesque than their bodies; it brings out their story, humour and opinions.”

While burlesque dancers wear provocative outfits that can be very pleasing on the eyes, Tenille says it’s a far cry from stripping – the burlesque dancers keep their kit on, leaving something to the imagination.

Tenille says that while stripping tends to take place in clubs and mostly for male audiences, burlesque has more of an arty reputation, with shows happening at the Labia Theatre, the city hall and even a book shop. And the audiences, she says, are mostly women, some of whom approach her afterwards with lots of questions.

Burlesque is not only about entertainment for Tenille. She and her class also raise money from their shows for Rape Crisis.

Tenille says Rape Crisis has been criticised by some for taking money from burlesque, but she feels there’s nothing wrong with women performing in a sensual way, embracing their inner beauty.

And Rape Crisis director Kathleen Day says they are thrilled to be Rouge Revue’s beneficiary.

“There is an aesthetic of beauty and respect and appreciation for women’s bodies and the bodies of gender non-conforming people that is common both to burlesque and to the work we do at the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust.

“A number of rape survivors we have seen have credited being part of burlesque dance classes as an important part of their healing process and for finding ways to accept and enjoy their bodies again having lost this in the aftermath of rape,” she says.

There are 40 women in Tenille’s classes from the ages of 18-65. They include students, housewives and school teachers. They make their own costumes and perform in a variety of themes. Some sing and others do a fire dance act.

Rouge Revue’s next performance, with a Halloween theme, is at Gardens Commercial High School, on Saturday October 27.

Email rougerevue@gmail.com to find out more about burlesque dance.