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Brass Burlesque

Burroughs Lamar | New York City, United States

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Michi Osato, a performer trained in West African dance. She’s one of the founders of @brassburlesque, a New York City burlesque troupe created by queer women and women of color to redefine a scene that they say has often failed to provide queer and transgender performers opportunities. The idea of creating a community where women of color could be their unapologetic selves had — almost a year ago — existed solely as a figment of her imagination. For the founders of @brassburlesque — Michi, 31; her sister, Una Osato, 35; and their longtime friend, Dawn Crandell, 43 — growing up in and around NYC taught them how to interact with people from diverse backgrounds. But performing in the city highlighted a disparity: the #burlesque dancing community, they said, was still predominantly white, cisgender and thin. “The kind of burlesque that we do has never been celebrated in mainstream shows,” Una told our journalist @mychivas, who took this photo. “People have limited views about who can perform burlesque.

Burroughs Lamar is a self-taught documentary photographer.His serious photography began in 2008, through his ongoing project documenting African American life in his native born Harlem community in the context of gentrification.His interest in the human condition arises from his career in behavioral health, specifically forensic psychiatry, working with his clients, Psychiatrists, Therapists and Social Workers in the treatment of major psychiatric disorders.

With an acute understanding of mental disorders, most occur genetically, other factors include substance use, but most relevant to his photography, through life stressors.Community activism, social protests provide people with a valve to release tension and gain a sense of empowerment against forces of oppression.

The images presented here derive from a personal a project I did this summer.I was granted permission because they wanted a photographer that would understand and be sensitive to the LGBTQ community and respectful of their performance and not exploit them as a freak act.They are serious performance artists.For this reason, it was purposeful to show their preparation as opposed to just stage performance.

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