The women of the Cherry Blossom Cabaret believe the word “burlesque” is often misunderstood. The directors, who go by the stage names of Lola Love and Miss Catwings, see burlesque as an art form – the “art of tease.”
“Most people think burlesque is stripping and that’s just one part of it,” says Love. Everybody in the troupe has a different background. “We have singers, dancers, aerialists, tap dancers, belly dancers … so it just made more sense to be called cabaret than burlesque.”
Although the group’s main goal is to entertain, its mission is also to show that all women are beautiful. “We’re all different shapes and sizes,” Love says. “You can be a size zero or you can be a size 22 and it doesn’t matter. It’s embracing yourself, loving yourself, celebrating being a woman and just having fun.”
The cabaret offers classes in burlesque and other dance styles, which cover the troupe’s expenses. Proceeds from the shows pay the performers. “We might be one of the only [local] theater companies that pays everybody who works for them. We try to pay everybody because we want them to be committed to it,” Love says.
The two main shows a year are “VarieTease” in the spring and “Divine” in December. Those shows are more theatrical performances. Others may be a bit more risqué, but the cabaret also wants to reach children.
“We did an event called ArtSpree, which was a fund- raiser for The Contemporary Museum, and we did a show for kids there and had a lot of fun,” Love says. “We want to do outreach stuff for kids and focus on theater, dance, circus acts and keep the striptease out of it.”