Chibimoeko talks burlesque, fashion and self-acceptance

By True Colors Festival Team

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October 27, 2021

Since discovering the art of burlesque dancing, Chibimoeko has decided to step out from behind the scenes and take her place on stage. Having people look at her body has helped her to be more self-accepting.

Q: How did you discover burlesque dancing and what made you fall in love with it?

I originally wanted to be a stylist, but I happened to meet Oi-chan, who casts dancers and drag queens, and became encouraged to put myself on  stage rather than hide behind the scenes. This led me to learn more about the art of burlesque. I feel that actually trying it out and having people look at my body has helped me to accept myself.

Q: What have been some of the barriers to pursuing burlesque dancing?

 When I’m on stage as a burlesque dancer, I’m no different from other performers — all I want is for the people watching me to be entertained and have fun. However, since I have a special body, some people may feel “sorry” for me. That’s why I try to include comical movements and choose songs that will make people feel happy and cheerful.

Q: Fashion is a big part of burlesque. What are some specific needs that you have when it comes to clothes?

My torso is the same as that of most people, and my arms and legs are short, which is a challenge when it comes to wearing clothes. But I’m conscious of how to pull off ready-made clothes. For example, if the hem of the pants is too long, I can alter it, and nowadays, wearing oversized clothes is becoming more and more popular. I don’t have many problems with clothes, except that I try to carefully not choose outerwear and other items that are difficult to adjust by myself. 

Q: Where do you buy your clothes from?

I’ve never been very conscious of the fact that I have a disability. I’m more conscious about looking good in the clothes that I get off the rack. So actually, I shop at the same stores where most people get their clothes from.

Q: What’s your opinion on accessible fashion?

It’d be great if there were more designs that were actually cool, cute or fashionable, instead of focusing purely on functionality. I think the barriers would be broken down more.

Q: You were one of the models in the TC Fashion documentary, Clothes in Conversation. What do you hope for audiences around the world to take away from the doc?

Recently, there has been this widespread concept of looking past gender, nationality or disability. I think this is very good, and it makes life easier for more people. However, when I think about it as a person with a disability, I realize there are many things that I have been able to do because I was born with this disability. So, instead of trying to look past my disability, I would like to simply be me. And the best way to challenge what people think about me is to let people know more about me.

Photo by LILY SHU

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True Colors Festival 2020/2021

True Colors Festival (TCF) presented by The Nippon Foundation is a series of performing arts events presented across geographies, in celebration of diversity and inclusion as “One World One Family.”

Through festivals since 2006 in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, and Japan, TCF has presented more than 1,100 performing artists from more than 30 countries and attracted more than 40,000 people.

The re-start of TCF 2020/2021 marks its commitment to tap on the power of the arts to connect artists and audiences in experiences such as music videos, film screenings, children’s programs, musicals, concerts, and workshops.

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