A powerful sense of burlesque

If You Go

What: Blushing Barefoot Burlesque

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Arcata Theatre Lounge, 1036 G St.

Admission: $25 in advance, $30 at the door

A powerful sense of burlesque

Much to the delight of many male and female residents throughout the county, a new burlesque group has formed and is ready to perform once again behind the Redwood Curtain.

The Blushing Barefoot Burlesque presents "Smitten" on Saturday at the Arcata Theatre Lounge at 8 p.m. ($30 door, $25 advance; 21 and over).

This variety show features 20 amazing, talented and local ladies who celebrate being women through comedy, song and dance. They are a new local nonprofit performance group, filled with fun, energy and new ideas.

"I think we bring a new flare on burlesque because it's not just a strip tease there's a lot of unexpected things that happened," said Shannon Bennet, the group's founder, choreographer and leader. "My attempt at the whole thing is to unite women through burlesque; maybe show people how powerful it can be. All these women are from different walks of life but come together, love each other and grow together through burlesque and it's beautiful to watch."

The group's first performance in April in Garberville sold out quickly and, despite the lack of tickets, a crowd of hopeful spectators created a line that went down the street.

The show and group came to life after Bennet attended a burlesque workshop in San Francisco and returned to southern Humboldt County. The Blushing Barefoot Burlesque saw instant results as its enrollment more than doubled from eight to 20 women.

"As we started to research we took our inspiration from the beginning of where burlesque started, making fun of pop culture with theater arts and using the tease emphasis on strip tease to entertain," said group member Chiara Chavez, who recently returned to Humboldt County after graduating from San Diego State University with degrees in both art history and interior design. "From there we realized burlesque was new to our community and something we wanted to see grow. You can communicate much more than just taking off our clothes. We're trying to embody women in all their shapes and all their forms."

Chavez added the Blushing Barefoot Burlesque is an open group and encourages any female to join.

"We have an eclectic group of women from young college students to middle-aged mothers that come from all walks of life including musicians, artists, vocalists, performers and poets," she said. "Some have never performed while some have danced their whole lives but we're all involved and learning to new things to pull this off.

"It's kind of being born as it goes along," Chavez.