My 2023 challenge - Learn and perform a burlesque show live on stage
My Body Acceptance Journey
Even I'm surprised I've just performed my first burlesque routine!
You'll often hear me say ‘I would never have done this when i was younger” when it comes to modelling in my lingerie, showing up on social media talking about body confidence, body acceptance and being so publicly visible.
It’s true, I have been on such a confidence building journey over the last 13 years, with lots of wobbles along the way. Mentally, I’m in the best place that I’ve ever been with my body, even though physically there are still a lot of menopausal changes going on. But it will always be work in progress and finding body confidence is never a done deal.
Stepping out of my comfort zone
Every year I like to challenge myself to push myself out of my comfort zone. Last year's challenge was to model nude for a life drawing class which I was obviously nervous about but found liberating. Taking steps out of my comfort zone helps me practice what I preach when it comes to body acceptance.
I've been a big fan of Dita Von Teese for years and was over the moon when she shared an image of me wearing her lingerie for a Playful Promises Ageless Fashion campaign on her instagram feed, to millions of her followers back in 2020. After watching Dita perform live on her Glamonatrix tour last year, I was in awe of all the performers proudly celebrating their bodies.
I'm also constantly inspired by the brilliant Judith Vandepeer Delgado @pupindevert who started burlesque later in life and is now a regular in the UK burlesque scene aged 60, proving to any doubters that our age doesn't define us. If you don't already follow her on instagram go and give her a follow as she's just fabulous.
I knew I had to give it a go. This year’s challenge to learn and perform a burlesque routine had been set!
Hands up if you watched the movie "Burlesque" starring Cher and Christina Aguilera with curiosity? The art of burlesque has been around for years with seedy connotations but thankfully films like this and women like Dita Von Teese have made it a much more acceptable and popular art form.
What I loved and started to realise whilst watching Dita’s Glamanatronix show was the pure celebration and self-expression of the performer’s bodies, the mood and purpose was not around sexual gratification for men as I had previously thought. Yes, the performers may decide to strip down to nipple tassels and G-strings, but it felt like it was ‘a fuck it, this is my body’ act of acceptance which I and the audience applauded.
Burlesque is an empowering art form for women, it provides a platform for self-expression, body positivity, and confidence. I’m drawn to burlesque performances because it creates a space for women to reclaim their sexuality and challenge societal norms, promoting the idea that beauty and sensuality come in diverse forms. It allows performers of all ages, shapes, and sizes to embrace their individuality and break free from traditional expectations, fostering a supportive community where empowerment and self-assurance flourish.
That’s what led me down this year’s path, would I be brave enough to stand on stage and do this?
Where do you start?
I had no idea how I was going to even start this challenge as there weren’t any local burlesque classes near me and I was beginning to think this one just wouldn’t happen. That is until a friend I'd met through social media, Jane Wood, who runs a dance school and Fem-Chi classes put a shout out on Instagram. Jane is passionate about helping women that are feeling disconnected from their femininity and sensuality. Helping women tap into their inner confidence and fierceness, to help you regain that lost fire. Jane was a guest on my podcast recently so you can find out all about her here
She was running a 10 week on line burlesque course with the opportunity to perform as a group at the Womanifest in Cheshire this July. Talk about perfect timing! I was already booked as a speaker at this year’s festival, so I just knew I had to sign up. Not only did I sign up but I immediately put my name forward to perform a solo act.
Commitment. Classes, Can I really do it?
Apart from the occasional wedding disco, I haven't properly danced since my drama A Level in 1988, so it’s fair to say it didn’t come naturally. I was actively discouraged by my ballet teacher when I was younger because I did not have the right build for the ballet world (I'm sure I'm not the only person who heard this back in the 1970's).
I began to look forward to the 90-minute sessions each week and even though I struggled with my left and right and some of the moves didn’t come naturally I enjoyed the process. It was fun to learn something completely new, to switch off from the day and focus on something just for me.
Disconnecting from our bodies during the menopause
Like lots of women going through the menopause I have days when I feel disconnected from my body, and this really helped me appreciate my body and all it does for me. The other 6 women in the group were of various ages, mostly a lot younger but there was a common thread of anxiety and fear of expressing our sensuality that bonded us together.
I’ve just had one of the busiest weeks of the year so far which probably didn't help with the nerves leading up to Saturday. It also meant I hadn’t rehearsed as much as I’d hoped to. It even got to the point where I messaged Jane on my way to Cheshire to say I might have to miss out the group routine because I just hadn’t got it in my head. Jane reminded me that this was for fun, an experience to be shared and enjoyed and if a few mistakes were made, then so what? A great reminder not to take ourselves too seriously.
The time had come and there was no going back. I did make some mistakes in the group routine but nothing major and I think I got away with it. Funnily enough I was more worried about the group performance because no one would know if things didn’t go to plan in my solo.
It was one of those moments that you have to fully commit and go all in, so I did and once the music started and I was on that stage it felt so liberating and I loved it! Slight hiccup half way through when I was dancing back towards the chair, and I realised my feather boa wasn’t there so I had to completely blag the second part of the routine but that’s show business!!
Freedom to express our sensuality
How often as women, at any age, do we get the chance to freely express our sensuality without fear of judgement? Performing at Womanifest, a women only festival was exactly what I needed. We all have different parts to our personalities, and they all deserve equal spaces to be let free!
I did this for me, and it felt bloody good!
I now have that video as a reminder. If I’m having a bad day and need to boost my confidence I’ll go back and watch it.
Have you ever been to a burlesque class?
Are you curious?
Just try it, it’s a great way to celebrate and embrace your body ❤️
Will Lady Liberté ever be seen again? Never say never!
Keep being fabulous.