My “Career Lessons Learned Series” continues here with the lessons I learned from being a burlesque dancer.
OK, so I am not sure you could exactly say it was a career choice, as much as a really fun hobby, I certainly wasn’t compensated anywhere near enough to afford rent, food or well anything much more than the bus fare home, but it sure was fun!
I first attended beginner burlesque classes as a way to get a little exercise and meet new friends. A few years in and I had progressed to advanced classes and performed at several venues. I was also beginning to choreograph my own routines which was a very satisfying creative outlet.
My first solo dance routine was performed to Kings of Leon’s “Be Somebody”. I played an office worker who travelled on the train to her job, where she typed manically through a drum solo, before heading home. The main section of the dance involved a reverse striptease where I slowly, seductively put a necktie back on!
Another favourite routine of mine was danced to Queen Beyonce’s “Why Don’t You Love Me”. I played a bored housewife, much like Bey’s portrayal in the music video for the song, I toiled away sweeping the floor before deciding to abandon the chores in favour of stripping down to a negligee and using my broom as a pole!
In the years I danced burlesque I learned a lot about myself including the following life lessons:
Women Are The Best
I danced with wonderful women who became very good friends, I was taught by amazingly talented dancers who inspired and impressed me. It can be argued that burlesque is a feminist art form, although there are critics, it certainly is predominantly organised and presented by women and celebrates many different representations of what it means to be sexy and confident, while at the same time providing a boost to self-esteem. How it differs from more popular standard stripping, tends to be burlesque dancers dance for themselves, they have a routine, a story to tell, and strippers are just trying to get naked quickly for men’s titillation.
If In Doubt, Shimmy
Not much can go wrong if you simply shimmy, the act of wiggling your shoulders back and forth while giving the audience a cheeky grin can save you from almost any gaff.
You Can Do Anything In Heels
Once I got used to dancing in stilettos, I found there wasn’t much you can’t do in high heels, including chair work, running and pretty much everything else. There’s a rumour that Beyonce actually sleeps in her heels!
Glitter Makes People Happy
One routine I danced in included a glitter rainshower in the finale, I was slightly off my point which meant the entire glitter bomb went directly in my mouth! Not a good look and I was spitting glitter shards for days. However, I did learn that generally, glitter makes people smile.
If You Make A Mistake, Keep Smiling
One of the best lessons I learned from dancing burlesque was that making mistakes is not as frightening as it can seem. The few times I turned the wrong way or popped the wrong balloon(!) I found a big honest grin was enough to save the day. Audiences are so much more forgiving than performers imagine, especially when there is a chance they might see a boob somewhere during the number.
I haven’t danced on the stage since becoming a mom, for me personally it just doesn’t jive well with my new role and I am not sure I could balance on those sky high heels anymore! But in the privacy of my own home, I have been known to do a few bumps, you know, why I stir the dinner or vacuum.
So, what’s your view, is burlesque just stripping or something more refined?
In the next instalment of my “Career Lessons Learned Series”, I will be sharing #3 Lessons I Learned From Being An Immigration Advisor.
You can also check out the original post about the series or scroll back to see the previous entry Lessons I learned From Being A Flight Attendant #1.