Today we’d like to introduce you to Dee Drenning.
Hi Dee, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
Hey y’all! My name is Dee, also known as HoopsieDee! I originally started my path as an artist in 2014 while I was still serving in the Navy. I had just experienced a traumatic event and came across hula hooping as a form of therapy and peace. Eventually, I started developing my skills as a hoop dancer and performer. After an honorable discharge, I moved back home to the St. Louis area where I auditioned for a local burlesque club and that kick-started my burlesque career. I also started teaching hula hooping to children and adults around the area in 2018. Honestly, that has been one of my best jobs I’ve ever had.
I began my studio art degree at the University of Missouri – St. Louis (graduating Spring ’22) and have been diving deeply into so many art forms. Being able to go back to school for art really expanded my abilities and broadened my ideas and concepts. Designing and printmaking have become some of my favorite forms as of late. Previously I was working heavily in video content and film/studio photography.
January of 2020 brought about my newest adventures into pole dancing and pole athletics. I was the first recipient of the Dark Angel Scholarship at Michelle Mynx Academy of Pole on South Grand. The experiences and support and love I’ve encountered during my year and a half there have been more than a blessing, I highly recommend anyone interested in getting into pole to check out the studio!
Recently, I’ve taken a position as one of two new headmistresses of the St. Louis School of Burlesque and Variety, and I’m beyond excited on my new responsibilities.
I’m a fiancé to a wonderful man of six years, and the mom to one feisty four your old!
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It’s never a smooth road, I think. There’re always some struggles along the way. That’s just life. The great thing about the struggles is that there’s always a lesson in there somewhere. When I first started hula hooping it was a form of healing for me from military sexual trauma. I was also in a very abusive relationship at the time and had fallen into a damaging depression. Honestly, it was hula hooping that helped me find myself again. It taught me self-sufficiency and resiliency. If you drop your hoop, pick it up again. If you almost got that move, do it again ten more times. If you’re having a rough day, pick up the plastic circle and let go.
My road into art and performing was not easy either. Dealing with terrible bosses and club owners, and just outright racism and nepotism within the community, definitely made me feel inadequate and like quitting more times than not, but then I chose to keep pushing through these things. Why don’t I deserve to be on stage, or put my art in a gallery?
Personally, I also struggle with disabilities like arthritis, major depression, ADHD, anxiety, and PTSD. Learning to cope and manage illnesses can be hard. As a mom, taking care of my family can be difficult while managing the symptoms of these issues, but the support system that I have built for myself really comes in to help when we need them. I’ve never had so much love and support than I do now in the city.
Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
As an artist, I am a burlesque and variety performer (hula hoops/pole/roller skates), printmaker, designer, content creator, and instructor. I don’t think I specifically specialize in one thing. I’m maybe more of like a Jill of many trades as I tend to find a new discipline that I obsess over and use to bring my ideas to life. I think I’m most known for performing hula hooping and burlesque around the city. I used to pop up on Delmar Loop or downtown at Kiener Plaza and bring extra hoops for folks to try while I’m just out having a good time. I still carry my hoops in my car now! I feel like now as I grow older, I’m transitioning into different ways to share who I am and my experiences through new avenues. I recently produced a small supply of screen-printed shirts and prints that were inspired my adult work. It’s an adult design, but it’s a tribute to club workers and dancers. In the same vein, I also produced a short film project about the censorship of performers and sex workers as a response to personal censorship of myself and my other dancer friends. I think I’m most proud of my outreach to people through my work. I still randomly walk through Walmart somedays and come across someone who’s seen a performance or seen a video and ask me when I’m teaching or when’s the next show. Knowing I’m leaving a piece of history behind is what I’m most proud of. I think that’s also what sets me apart from others is my constant choice to interact with people at every chance; I’m always trying to figure out how to interact with my environment and community or even other artists. I want them to see what I’m seeing or what I’m feeling. I just love connecting.
Another one of my proudest moments was being selected by STL Shakespeare Festival and Painted Black STL to create the final arch for the A Late Summer Night’s Stroll last summer. Getting the chance to work with other local black artists that I’ve been a fan of or following on social media for years, was incredible and the support and love I received afterwards was great.
Where do you see things going in the next 5-10 years?
As far as burlesque locally, I see us moving towards a new era of style of performers. Our scene has mostly been very different from the classical burlesque most think it is. Our local scene is very DIY, grunge, emo, goth, gore, punk. I see the scene moving more towards opening up to newcomers with ideas we haven’t even considered. I see there being more of a push for self-taught creators and dancers and I see a lot more collaboration between disciplines like performers, big-name businesses, musicians, and venues. There’s already some collaboration, but I think in the near future, it’s going to become more of a standard. I know a big change that we will be pushing for at the burlesque school is open forums with a mediator to air discrepancies within our community. I see more work being done with the community at large, more nonprofits, and more volunteer work. As far as trends, it’s hard to project that with our fluctuating of life in COVID at the moment. Some things I thought were going to be trendy ended up falling off, and honestly, it feels like the trendy thing now are just the same things we saw a couple of years ago. I’m excited to see something new come through.
- $75/hr for any booking
- $75 commissions
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: hoopsiedee.com
- Instagram: instagram.com/hoopsiedee
- Facebook: facebook.com/hoopsiedee
- Twitter: twitter.com/hoopsiedee
- Youtube: youtube.com/hoopsiedee
- SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/user-367792779
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