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Burlesque-dancing teacher says she was victim of ‘witch-hunt’

Posted at 9:10 AM, Aug 04, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-04 09:10:28-04

HOPEWELL, Va. -- The Hopewell teacher who resigned last week after an online video surfaced of her performing burlesque has decided to speak out. The teacher, identified by her stage name Lottie Ellington, told Yahoo Parenting she took up dancing after she was the victim of a drive-by shooting.

In December of 2014, I was the victim of a drive-by shooting, and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Luckily, I was not physically injured, but the emotional and psychological tolls were high: I didn’t feel safe at home and I didn’t feel safe at work, because I lived in the same small city I worked in, and the odds were good that some of my students knew the people who shot up my house. I realized that the only place I felt safe and in control was when I was onstage, so my therapist suggested that I visualize being onstage whenever I felt anxiety. Burlesque, which I’d been doing since 2011, helped me through a very rough time in my life; in a lot of ways it saved my life.

The teacher said she felt victimized again when someone "outed" her as a dancer.

Someone fed the “authorities” the name Lottie Ellington, and from there all they had to do was a Google search. The video that surfaced was from the Michigan Burlesque Festival, and I live in Virginia. This was a witch-hunt, plain and simple.

The teacher said once people started sharing the video on social media, her bosses at Hopewell schools gave her a choice -- resign immediately or be fired once the investigation into the video was complete.

I want my students to know that I will be OK. I want them to be strong and to feel free to be who they are, without apology. I want my students to know and understand that the reason you need an education is because education provides you options. If I didn’t have my education, this situation could have been the end of my story. But now I have choices and options in front of me.

Ellington said her performances are considered art and she only performed outside of Virginia in an effort to maintain her privacy. She said she planned to start a Facebook group to support fellow performers who have either been outed or have threatened to be outed.

So even though someone “meant this for bad,” the universe “meant it for good.” And I am going to do the best I can to honor that.

Previous requests to Hopewell school leaders asking for information about the teacher's status were denied citing personnel issues.