Annette Luce is a New York City trained dancer. Her teaching spans cultural borders from performance collaboration with Sydney’s Capoeira community to a rural Maasai village in Kenya. Her vision of Alchemy of Flesh and Spirit continues the parallel trajectory of a life path that bridges dance and sexuality with shamanic practice. As a performing artist and teacher of Sexy Spirits in New York City Annetta has also moonlighted as a stripper in clubs. At this year’s Taste of Love Festival she teaches both men and women the sacred art of stripping.
You are running workshops called Sacred Art of Stripping. How do you make something that has been pornographised to an extent into something sacred?
If we imagine that sex is natural, beautiful and sacred then it is a celebration of our naturalness and we can honour its many expressions. Pornography, good or bad, fills the vacuum left in our society. A society that lacks knowledge of sacred sexuality and rites of passage. People do not even have rudimentary teachings of sexuality and much less sacred sexuality. People have heard assumptions passed on, men learn from buddies in locker rooms etc. Lack of knowledge spawns a rift between the genders.
Why is stripping such a sensual and desirous activity?
The art of stripping fulfils a healthy need that most people on this planet, at our deepest core – that magnetic attraction, to be seen. And seen in their beauty of a body that is sensuous and natural! There are belief systems, unspoken core beliefs, social conditioning and concepts delivered by religion, culture and society of what is proper and moral. Even the idea of good girl/bad girl, the madonna/whore stigma, limits our expressive sensuality and what is deemed proper. So if we accept limitations and beliefs about our own sensuality and sexuality perhaps we need to question them. Men are the voyeurs and love to look and admire the female form and their own masculine form. Shifting the perception of voyeurism rather than being negative is a positive move.
How do you approach stripping that is different?
As a dancer and teacher of movement for more than 40 years I am interested in what is possible outside the socialised box and shifting perceptions that have been projected onto women and men. My approach is about the power of the body and finding beauty in its natural expression. I encourage students to find their own creative sensual movement rather than a dance routine or choreography.
How do people feel after they have performed?
Sexual self-confidence. The body can be your ally. A renewed sense that it is better to have freedom in sensual expression.
Do people in your workshop need to have dance experience?
Dance experience is not required at all! All ages and sizes and inclinations to what you think you are, are welcomed. The premise is that each woman or man has their own mysterious essence that is truly only their erotic anatomy.
A movement-based approach that primes the body to find their own richness with the intention of erotic play, where nudity is not necessary. Erotica performed with a spontaneous creative edge. No sequins, no garters, no legs behind ears… just a knowing, owning, sharing and revealing of one’s own pleasure, beauty and mystery.
How is stripping different for men and for women?
Stripping does reveal the differences for how men and women step into that space of performing. I like using this metaphor that uses qualities of the elements for looking at these differences. Women are like the element of water and men are like the element of fire. Since women are like nature there is mysterious essence that each woman exudes. For men it is a dance of virility and craftsmanship with moving precision from the depth of maleness. More about finding your attitude and approach for your strip.
Will your workshop participants be performing their strip at TOL?
Those participating in my Art of Stripping workshops at the Taste of Love Festival have the opportunity to perform at the Saturday night performance event.
What should we expect from you and your workshops at TOL?
Be the energetic presence that can fill a room, any room, any situation! To peek into your own interior pleasure vault of your sexual persona. Know how he or she wants to dress, how much you want to reveal or not reveal and to feel your own self-seduction. Costuming (but not of the traditional stripper gear) allows transformation to be seen in other facets of your sexual persona. Participants are encouraged to bring clothes or costumes that are outside the social ideas of what strippers wear. No corsets, just a body, encouraged to move with grace and sensuality. There is a ‘costume box’ that holds the promise of silky fabrics, flowing garb so one may feel their skin.
Stripping itself is socialised carrying a lot of baggage: what is acceptable and taboo. One has to be present and conscious, actually embodied, to strip from a place of authenticity.
Annetta Luce presents The Art of Stripping at the Taste of Love Festival. Friday 20 January till Sunday 22 January. For program and ticket information go to tasteoflove.com.au.