Teasing Is Believing – Burlesque Performer Tre’ Da Marc Shows That Less is More
“I have been using the art of the tease to entertain national and international audiences for over ten years,” proclaims Tre’ Da Marc. Happily, the teasing in which the proud son of Minneapolis engages isn’t that of a schoolyard bully mocking his victim’s weight and myopia while extorting his lunch money—quite the opposite. In fact, Da Marc’s ever-growing fan base would be disappointed if they weren’t treated to his particular brand of tease.
Tre’ Da Marc is a rising star on the burlesque circuit; there he is known as Chocolate Drop That Won’t Stop. Nice work, if you can get it.
As for burlesque, it’s…well, it’s the movie, Cabaret, only without the hedonistic millionaire. Oh, and without the fetching Nazis, too—burlesque is 1,000% Nazi-free, guaranteed. Burlesque is a neverending story, a tale (and sometimes a tail) where Conceal and Reveal fight it out under the bright lights, Reveal eventually winning the night. Burlesque is not just that, though—burlesque is a scene; it’s a lifestyle; in its gaudiest moments, it’s a feather-and-lace movement.
Of course, Tre’ Da Marc’s stylized teases revolve around a theme of Putting It On as often as they do with Taking It Off, since he further describes himself as a “burlesque performing artist/cosplayer/model based here in the Twin Cities.”
Burlesque casts a unique allure, though, over both the audience and for the artist. “I enjoy being a burlesque performer because it makes me feel like I’m a super-hero,” Da Marc expounds. “I get to transform in a persona and make people feel good about their life in that moment we share on stage. That energy and passion is what fuels my heart and soul and drew me into the lifestyle of burlesque.”
Like all the best super heroes, Da Marc came to his quixotic alter ego via the fickle finger of fate—that is, his stage name was bequeathed to him by fellow performers, “right after my debut at Nudie Nubies.” He continues, “There weren’t that many Black burlesque performers on the circuit in the United States, let alone Minnesota at that time, especially male-identifying burlesque artists. They described that with my art style there could only be one of me and that my signature style should be trademarked.”
Unlike most super heroes, whatever powers Da Marc displays on stage are the result not of a freak accident but of intense intention. This intention first manifests with the selection of a soundtrack for any given performance. “I listen to my music on repeat constantly,” Da Marc reveals. “I study musicality and/or the lyrics of the song. I listen first to understand the tone and emotion it portrays and if I can stand to listen to it on repeat for hours and not hate it.”
Once the tune is internalized on an intellectual and emotional level, Da Marc’s body comes into play. “I choreograph my routine to feel natural, and good for my body,” Da Marc says. “I really try to harmonize my costume, music and choreography together to create a vibe and a surprise for my audience members.”
The artist’s focus then moves beyond his own body to the bodies that will bear witness to his performance. “It’s all about the energy of a song or costume concept that moves me to create acts for the stage,” Da Marc insists. “Typically, it ranges from what makes me feel good or sexy to what empowers or makes me feel present in that moment. I like that in burlesque I convey what I’m feeling to the audience without saying a word by using my body and costumes to paint a visual picture for everyone to enjoy.”
Despite these meticulous preparations, once Da Marc is doing his thang onstage he can be met by the unexpected, but that’s a collision that Da Marc welcomes. “I love improvising on the beat!” Da Marc gladly confesses. “Improv is one of the strongest tools in my performer toolbox.”
In those unscripted moments, the entertainer becomes the entertained. Observes Da Marc, “It’s really fun to see what my brain and body come up with when I improvise during a show, and then try to incorporate that improvisation into my already existing performance vernacular.”
Sometimes, Da Marc’s art bridges the gap between improvisation and inspiration. “The wonderful thing about burlesque is that it’s made for Every Body,” the artist assures. “All body types—and this includes disabled bodies; I myself have hearing loss in my left ear—should be represented on stage. Seeing that type of representation may help some people heal and feel good about their own body, and relieve some of the pressures of societal norms put upon them.”
And other times, that inspiration gyrates like a tassel, spinning from performer to audience and back again. “I was pleasantly surprised to learn how big the burlesque community truly is,” Da Marc reckons. “There are performers from all over the globe, not just the United States. I never really heard or knew about burlesque until I became a performer and now I’ve met, visited and performed with so many people from all different walks of life all over the world!”
Despite his best efforts to preemptively dispel them, Da Marc often finds his way obstructed by stereotypes that originate from the most exasperating of sources. “I feel that the biggest misconception in the arts industry is that burlesque performers are not being recognized as legitimate artists,” he laments. “We would love to work in more theaters and venues especially when there’s such a need for art all over the world. We study and put so much work and ingenuity into our craft and we just want to share with the world and be paid for our art.”
That art is no light switch, to be flipped on and off at will—sometimes, Da Marc’s art sashays into his life away from the limelight. “My stage persona helps me overcome some of life’s curveballs by tapping into the confidence Tre’ has,” he says. “I use it to overcome my anxiety and work towards a better version of myself. Becoming a burlesque performer taught me how to love myself more, and offered a bit of an escape from the pressures of my life at the time living from couch to couch.”
Da Marc has freely given everything to his art form…but in recent years, he has received no small return on that long bestowal. “In the past, I felt I made a lot of sacrifices when trying to juggle my hectic personal, performance and work life early in my burlesque career,” the artist concludes. “I feel like I missed out on a lot of experiences and memories with loved ones because of all of the traveling and events I was performing in. Now I feel I have found the balance to truly enjoy what I do and ensure all the important moments in all aspects of my life count.”