Atlanta burlesque dancer Shellie Schmals savors the risque art of the tease

Shellie Schmals is an Atlanta-based producer, performer, and host specializing in audience-driven-improv burlesque. (Courtesy of Charles Bailey)

Atlanta’s dance scene is vibrant and eclectic, and we are honored to highlight some of the many local dancers that move us with their movements in our ongoing series “Speaking of Dance.” For this edition, we highlight burlesque dancer Shellie Schmals.

A burlesque producer, performer, and host, Shellie Schmals specializes in audience-driven-improv burlesque, taking cues from audience suggestions. “Burlesque is the art of the tease,” says Schmals. “It is storytelling with stripping. It’s a classical art that has been around since the mid-1800s.” Schmals describes burlesque performers as creative storytellers weaving emotional arcs and narrative arcs, using everything from classical burlesque to more modern neo-burlesque styles.

For Schmals, burlesque combines what she loves about the stage: comedic performances, characters, dressing up, and performative dance. “Burlesque is so empowering. The ability to control your own narrative and your own story with an audience,” Schmals recounts. “[To] share your highest of energetic moments to your most intimate and deep secrets with an audience is just phenomenal… to have that feeling in a room where you know that you’ve really made a difference to someone.”

You can find out more about burlesque producer, performer, and host Shellie Schmals by following her on Instagram here.