There are days when I have more than one emotion churning inside of me at the same time. I could feel happy, sad and angry all at the same moment. With all these pent up feelings, my body goes into shock too, then I don’t properly communicate these emotions or – I don’t express them at all. This my friends is what we call being emotionally constipated, and this is how I was feeling before I started my 31 Days of Sensuality Challenge. What’s coming up for me from the past 30 days is that apart of being a sensual woman is being a woman who embraces her emotions. All of them. What makes a sensual woman powerful is her ability to utilize her sensuality to tap into particular feelings and emotions in different circumstances. These emotions are apart of her internal GPS system. You must feel them in order to let God guide you, sis.
Madonna said it best, express yourself, don’t repress yourself!
I personally still have some work to do when it comes to expressing my emotions. I still have shit pent up from childhood, on top of the shit that happened just a few days ago. I want to be able to move through this life expressing my anger or sadness without feeling that I couldn’t do so in fear of being a bitch, an angry black woman or not valid for feeling the way that I do. I know for sure that expressing all emotions beyond joy or happiness will help me be a better communicator and more authentic to myself and others.
This year I’ve learned that my best vehicle for learning, expressing and feeling is through movement- particularly dance. And as a storyteller in my own right, I wanted to find a way to express my emotions with as much drama as a theater kid performing, the Hey Big Spender act from Sweet Charriot ( only my theater friends will get this analogy). I asked my favorite professional exotic performer and sensual movement teacher, Shay Au Lait to help me get some shit off my chest! What makes Shay Au Lait different from other erotic dancers is that she becomes a method actor during her erotic performances. You can literally feel her on stage being that character- when Shay is a wolf, she’s a wolf! When shay is a Jezebel, she’s a fucking jezebel and she will make you lust after her #period.
Shay Au Lait travels throughout the country teaching two powerful methods of erotic movement classes to women. She is a certified Live Femme! teacher – a fusion movement class that guides participants through a series of sensual expressions to unleash their physical power and discover release. She also created SpeakEasy Noir Burlesque, a 90-minute experience in exploring power, pleasure and play through sensual movement and erotic expression. Through both of these movement classes, Shay Au Laut is helping women and men to feel, be and have their most sensual life. Shay gave me a personal class that fused both of these styles together.
I walked in a room with roses on the floor, sage burning and candles. I immediately knew that I couldn’t half-ass this workshop. Shay went out of her way to create an experience for me to fully be self-expressed – so I went in!
Before we got into the thick of the Femme! And Speakeasy Burlesque training, Shay walked me through her 12 Archetypes of burlesque.
She created these archetypes to help her students explore extreme emotions, nuances, and movement. By associating with an archetype, you can find additional motivation and inspiration and you explore the depths of that “character” while dancing. In this, I allowed myself to move through the class experiencing myself as the bitch, the bombshell, the savage the sweet innocent woman and the Femme Fatale. This module is the epicenter of emotional storytelling.
After setting the scene, Shay took me through a mind-blowing experience, Shay Au Lait was my emotional conductor.
- “The Grounding Ritual” and “Sensual Flow” – which is a welcoming moment and a sensual and grounding warm-up, that mostly focuses on floor work. We rolled our bodies on the floor and took the deepest breaths ever.
- We then transitioned into “The Play Ritual” – which is focused on what Shay call’s the “Sensual Core Flows.” This is one of the foundational movement modalities of her body of work. Its a time spent on movement through creative prompts that engage your sense of flow. I giggled and had fun with my movements. Shay instructed me to do one movement, I choose to shake my ass. Then as the music changed from joyful to slow and sultry, I had to find new ways to shake my ass to the beat. In this, we explored how different movements have different emotions to it.
- Next, we moved through the “Emotional Tantrum” portion of a class. Here, we got dramatic and bigger – we actually “Pitched a Fit. ” We danced with aggression and anger my character was Angela Basset ( AkA Burnadette) in Waiting to Exhale- I wanted to pick up a chair and fling it so bad! In this, we explored emotionality, music, and movement through specific prompts. The goal was to explore the range of our emotional core. We also explored healing and joy during our emotional tantrums. I grounded myself in each emotion, exploring the depths of the feeling.
- We then transitioned through our “Sensual Power” – In this section, we focused on haptic communication, which is our sense of touch. She guided me through a fun moving meditation on touch and then playful prompts. I explored my body through playful touch, healing touch, discovery touch and sensual touch. I even touched places that I sometimes forget to even acknowledge. I started to really connect to the fact that this body is mine! After this, my touches moved to celebratory touch and ownership touch. In celebrating and owning my ass, I smacked it, I grabbed it with force and I appreciated all of it.
This exercise was my favorite. As a dancer/ burlesque dancer, I know how to striptease but now I’m learning how to strip with more intention. I can take off a shirt in a healing way, I can also take off that same shirt in an angry way. This informs how I dance and tell stories – which is apart of the 12 Archetypes of Burlesque dancers. I will use these modalities for my future performances, but also in my own life.
We then combined all three sessions (sensual core flow, emotionality, touch) into a freestyle flow of expression. Shay pulled out three chairs labeled, “Discovery”, “Healing” and “Ownership”. In the second half, we did “ Stretch” “ Stir” and “Emote.” Together, we danced around each of these chairs, embodying the feeling of each emotion, savoring each and every movement. I definitely felt hella emotional after all of this. I found my self sweating as I dance fiercely through each state of being.
Shay Au Lait and I then did a striptease for each other. In this, we focused on making eye contact as we peeled our clothes off, taking our time to make the other person beg! At one point, we helped each other- I pulled Shay’s stockings off with my teeth, she pulled the ribbons off my underwear. This honestly felt like sexy playtime- the kind of playtime I want to explore with my man!
This was followed by another “Grounding Ritual” which was a sensual cooldown. Last, we did a “Reflection Ritual” where we talked a bit about my experience and Shay Au Lait shared a few prompts for me to use in my daily life.
Through Femme! And SpeakEasy Noire, I now have the language and movement to express my emotions. I also realize how fleeting emotions can be! So when I feel angry, I can now tap into this rage through movement, then move through the rage until I get to a calm state of mind. This is the epitome of what mindfulness is. In my everyday life, I now want to be more descriptive and tell deeply emotive stories that people can see themselves in.
Sensuality is a holistic physical experience that is more expansive than wearing sexy lingerie and erotic dancing. It’s about being present, connecting with your surroundings and expressing your emotional self. Sensuality is apart of our human experience and it’s time we all embrace it. Shay reminded me that sensuality is about play, variety, and discovery- how many ways can you touch your self and your partner to keep it fun? How many ways can you make your favorite dish in new way? This is the spice of life!
Learn more about Shay Au Lait at www.shayaulait.com