My career as a showgirl has taken me all over the world both teaching and performing. I’ve won whimsical awards I never knew existed like Queen of Carnaval San Francisco, Little Miss Aftershock (for my shimmy-shake at the Burlesque Hall of Fame), Best Derriere and Most Sensual at the New York Burlesque Festival.
My journey has led me to become the exact woman that I was looking for 20-30 years ago. I, like most of the women who enroll in my programs, spent a good part of my life yearning for something I couldn’t even articulate. Some years ago I came of the closet as an esoteric showgirl and created Showgirl Awakening. What delights me most these days is that I have the honor of guiding women back to the center of themselves (in one tenth the time it took me) with ample support and copious delight along the way.
I love witnessing my Awakening Showgirls go through a transformational journey with dance, movement, music and mindset shift. They get to experience first hand that access to the fountain of self-love within is just a shimmy away.
My name is Kellita and, like you, when I was younger I felt so ashamed that I existed, that I perched at the edge of my life--and my body.
I was a tyrant to myself, and instead of tending to my basic needs for nourishment and love, I held myself to intense perfectionist standards, resulting in an eating disorder, and compulsive exercising and studying. While I was so poor in responding to my own self, I majored in managing others.
I scanned for what everyone else around me felt, needed and wanted and was expert at helping them get that (and became very talented at discerning that...often knowing it before the other person themselves knew it: ha!). This left me over-editting myself, over-responding to others, and really, doing my best to over-manage my relationships and life as a whole.
This lonely and “not in my own skin” experience was the root of so much pain over the years, and one winter, when I found myself travelling alone in Argentina, it came to a head.
At that time, I’d been doing handmade work that I truly loved delivering Hot Pink Feathers dance programs and performances and it was having beautiful effects for the women I worked with. They were blossoming. They were coming into themselves. They were waking up to their own beauty and reveling in the pleasure that it is to be a body. It was *gorgeous*.
Behind the scene I was barely holding on. I was chronically overworking and underpaying myself.
I would just get through delivering a program or producing a show, and I’d collapse, exhausted, ill & deeply lonely. Years before, I was diagnosed with the autoimmune illness ulcerative colitis, which is an “invisible” wound, inside my body. It’s not obvious from the outside eye. One feature of this disease is blocking my body from digesting nourishment. The nourishment my body was rejecting physically mirrored the nourishment I was barely receiving socially and emotionally.
I just got used to doing everything while being undernourished. I would lead groups in parades, perform, teach and work until the point my body flared in inflammation, when I would be forced to stop. I would then turn my attention to healing until I was just out of the woods, and then throw myself back into the hustle of working doggedly without support.
Then, I had a big wake up call, when Sick, Tired and Lonely teamed up and took me out of the game in a new way.
This crux moment, this battle cry from my body, happened right after I had finished my most taxing work season of the year at that time. I had just led a Hot Pink Feathers contingent in both Carnaval and Pride parades, producing the events largely without help from others.
I had recently fallen in love with Argentinian tango and was alone in Buenos Aires when my illness didn’t just flare, but increased to a degree I had never known before. I was unable to eat and even to drink. I was life-threateningly nauseous.
And because my brain was undernourished, and I was traveling alone, I did not perceive just how sick I was getting. Long story short, I spent 3 weeks getting sicker and sicker before I got nourishment delivered via IV & my brain woke up enough to make sure I got myself home right away.
What I’d been needing for a long time was to know what kind of support I needed, but four things stood in my way: The first was being so out of touch with my body that I couldn’t tell how bad my condition was becoming. The second was assuming that whatever healing there was to do, it was all mine to do alone. The third was not being able to fathom asking for whatever support I was aware that I needed (and so I didn’t). And the last was that I hadn’t yet developed the receiving muscles to accept any support that might have miraculously appeared, had it shown up (and sometimes it did).
I had isolated myself literally & physically in Buenos Aires. I had no friends, family and very few colleagues around me as I descended into sickness.
Watch me telling this story ::
Through this recovery was the advent of my conscious relationship with what I came to call The Awakening Showgirl herself (the Feminine face of God, or Source, or the Divine Feminine, or Life Itself, call her what you will). I’ve been saying yes to her ever since….
Though getting so depleted & sick was awful and terrifying, the month of recovery reframed my whole life and shifted the focus of my work to be what it is today.
Before this episode, I was trying to put leather all over the world to make it safe for me to walk on it instead of just putting on a pair of shoes.
The Awakening Showgirl was tenderly, but fiercely insisting that I discover what kind of shoes I wanted to wear, which ones would serve me best and delight me most. She was requiring me to bring my focus to my own feelings and needs and desires and showing me that a key to that was learning to access the aliveness and presence that I knew from performing, in all the others areas of my life so that I could experience, in my daily life, what I did during the moments I spent performing Hot Pink Feathers showgirl group dance and my burlesque solos. It wanted to be my guide for my whole life, and what I guided women to experience, too. I was seeing that I had to take what I did on stage, off stage. It had to appear in how I woke up in the morning and went to bed at night. It had to appear in how I walked down the street or sat alone reading a book. It had to appear in the ways I made food for myself or others.
Creating dance art with my body was when I felt most connected to myself, others and all that is. I felt present, in my skin, and both at ease and radiantly channeling my most expansive and true self.
It was no longer enough to experience that kind of joy, delight, pleasure, confidence, self-trust and self-appreciation only while dancing and performing in this way. It was time to both live myself, and guide the women I mentored to deconstruct our experience of dancing and performing as conscious showgirls and burlesque dancers and translate that into our daily lives. This is an exquisite formula for living in Radiance and Presence.
This is the moment when I knew it was time to come out of the closet as an Esoteric Showgirl.
This is when I understood that Hot Pink Feathers (the dance company & dance style I had created and taught for 10 years), was actually the child of a body of both mystical and practical life practice that has been going on behind the scenes, called Showgirl Awakening. She had secretly, been the producer and stage manager of my life’s work.
Let me back up for a moment...I realize I haven’t told you how Hot Pink Feathers came to be, and now is a good time.
I was not one of those kids who grew up in dance class. I actually turned down lessons when they were available because I was perfectly fine dancing in the living room and the yard of my own accord.
I didn’t want dance lessons until I stopped trusting my instincts and my body at age 13 when I had a violating sexual experience. It was like my animation--my spirit--just fled my body at that point, took off right there from that bed in my best friend’s house when her mom was away and left a bunch of teenagers with hallucinogens & assorted drugs to have her home to themselves.
It was shortly after that that I asked for dance lessons, and was lucky enough to receive “yes” as an answer. I could hear my newly fled spirit whispering to me that dance would be a way home for me, a way back home to myself. But since my spirit was no longer residing in my body, guiding my movements, I needed the outside structure of dance lessons.
As I recall how I felt then, it was really a vacant feeling. Like I wasn’t home. I missed myself terribly.
The un-self-conscious sensuality and unabashed exuberance inherent in samba was something I had only experienced in my imagination for quite a few years. To have it in my whole body and reveal it in this way was such an awakening.
Soon, I found myself dancing in Carnaval parades, with Brazilian dance companies. I felt more alive and in my body than ever before. I wanted to do this sort of dancing every weekend!
Watch me telling the story of my relationship to dance here ::
What delights me most of all, though, and I am tearing up right now as I write this, is that I am now the woman that some part of me, without knowing it was, was looking for 20-30 years ago.
Some part of me must have known, deep down, that I could receive empathy from someone, but I wasn’t aware of it enough to hope for it. Nor are most of the women who enroll in my my programs. They’ve spent their lives yearning for something they couldn’t articulate. And I have the honor of guiding women back to the center of themselves in one tenth the time that it took me, with ample support and copious delight along the way. I want to live in a world where the streets are filled with processions of dancing showgirls rather than cars. And where every woman knows, from first hand experience, that access to the fountain of self-love within, is just a shimmy away.