Date: May 19, 2015
posted by Lee / Comments: No Comments / Tags: body image, burlesque, dance for confidence, female power, self-love
I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but burlesque really helped me to love and feel comfortable in my body. I’m in no way a professional, I’ve just got a few lessons under my garter belt and I can’t recommend it enough.
I was 18 when I was introduced to Burlesque. As a gangly teenager who was always on the stage performing in musical theatre shows, I was instantly intoxicated by the delicate femininity of the performers juxtaposed with the raw sensuality of the art form itself. From my second-row seat, I watched as woman after incredible woman took the stage and transformed it into a boudoir, a bus stop, a cake factory and more.
The great thing about Burlesque is that there are no rules. Purists might say that to be a true Burlesque dancer you need to remove a certain amount of clothing or include a few signature moves in your routine, like the Bump and Grind, but really, you can do whatever you want.
I’ve seen fire-eaters, mimes, gymnastics, fans and fireworks in routines before. I’ve watched, giddy and amazed as feathers flew, rhinestones glinted and sequins spun across the floor, unable to withstand the G-Force of the nipple-tassels they were once attached to as they twirled and blurred from the speed. Burlesque is pure fun and fantasy and what’s not to like about that?
It was at a friend’s bachelorette party when I first attempted this kind of performance for myself. When we arrived, after some awkward introductions and a few glasses of bubbly, a gorgeous and voluptuous redhead took us through the basics of walking, glove peeling and shimmying. In a dance studio covered with mirrors, you really couldn’t hide from yourself, so if you wanted to have fun, you had to watch yourself wobble.
We were a diverse group; most sizes, shapes and colours were represented and we made a pretty pathetic troupe. But man, did we laugh! After a short while it ceased to matter that most of us, including myself, had the grace of a drunken elephant. I felt graceful. I felt sexy.
There’s something about opera gloves and a feather boa that make a girl feel good, so good that I signed up for lessons that day and started the following week.
The first day of class was s bit unnerving. I’d had quite a bit of champagne at the bachelorette party, so turning up sober was a bit of a shock and I started to second-guess my decision. But once the rest of the women filed in and we got to know each other I was glad I came.
As before, we were quite a mixed bag. Single mums to pole dancers, lawyers to architects and everything in-between. We were bigger and smaller than each other, but no one seemed to be self-conscious. Our fantastic teacher took us through a series of moves and over the course of four weeks we’d learned a routine which culminated in all of us twirling our tassels as fast as we could.
To get bare-breasted in a room full of strangers was optional, but we were all up for it and all admiring each others’ tassels at close range. Feeling empowered through movement and character, even the shyest in the group was transformed into a little minx by the last class.
Even now I flirt with the idea of getting on an actual stage someday, in front of an audience who aren’t friends or fellow students. I choreograph routines in my head on my way to work most days, but have yet to really commit to the idea and give myself a name and a persona.
However, those classes gave me confidence in myself, in my body and I made some lifelong friends. I fully recommend trying this yourself. You’ve got nothing to lose (but a few pesky clothes) and everything to gain.