Eight years ago I began my full time (self) employment as a vintage styled singer and it soon dawned (pun intended) on me that my previous seven years in a ‘rock’ band had taught me many things good and bad. The good was how to work a crowd, how to pass as a singer and how to put on an engaging show. The bad was thinking that I was a rock chick (I’m absolutely not) and my awful posturing and presentation. I didn’t really have a true understanding of who I was as a performer (some photos of this time 2005-2012 show much confusion) and I was very good at faking confidence but I do now recognise that I was learning a craft – albeit whilst holding down a normal day job in media sales.
Why am I telling you this? Because what led me to teaching burlesque was when my attention was turned to vintage as a style of performance. I accidentally fell into it and soon realised that whilst I was lucky enough to be able to wear and showcase my beautiful vintage & repro dress collection, I wasn’t really in the right ‘mindset’ to present it. I needed to move away from thinking I was Suzie Quatro and Stevie Nix, and shimmy over to becoming more like Dita Von Tease and Marilyn Monroe. To be able to make the most of my style required a degree of retraining my body and movement and so I became obsessed with artwork by Gil Elvgren and searching for footage of Dita with all her grace and elegance. That then led me to thinking I might seek out a burlesque class to see if I could emulate this pin up style (minus the striptease part).
A fellow networker and consequently friend Karen Currie (princess K) was a pole fitness instructor and so I asked if she knew anyone locally in Chichester who might be able to help but alas there was no one. Soon after, one of her student teachers took a lesson in how to teach burlesque for beginners and I soon signed up for the course, but didn’t tell anyone as I somehow felt it was a bit naughty and people might think I was learning something highly inappropriate for a forty year old! However, with more research prior to the first class and within 10 minutes of that class, I was well and truly hooked and knew that this was exactly what I needed, loved and longed for in my life.
Having previously taught ‘sales’ confidence to women in business, I kind of felt that this was the same thing yet shifting it to be more about personal confidence and the power of your physical projection. I never took the ‘stage school’ route in life, in fact it never even occurred to me, but I do know that I was born to perform but I was also born to teach, nurture and coach others. So the two marry together perfectly.
I did ask the teacher during that course back in April 2012, if she could teach me all he knew and how I too could ‘qualify’ to teach but by her own admission, she knew little about the burlesque ‘world’ and suggested I sign up to the training course myself. I knew it was right for me and so no sooner had I paid for the extended version of the training course, and I had actually organised my launch party (July 2012), had a logo designed, ordered branded cupcakes and booked my venues for future workshops! I was ready to launch before I’d even completed the training!
In all honesty, I can now admit that I was swept up in the excitement of it all and I should have spent more time studying the art rather than planning the ways in which a boa could be thrown around or a glove could be removed. That said, I absolutely adored those early workshops because I was just as nervous as my students and I have made some lifelong friends since those days all because of burlesque. However, I would now admit that my REAL learning started then and has never ended throughout the seven years. I have continued to learn and study by being around all of the professional performers who I book for my shows (another story!). The story never ends because burlesque has so much to offer – whether you perform in public or just attend workshops – there is always a new way to feel and a different spin to twirl to. I adore burlesque, and see it as one of the best things in my life which is why I still love to share it with my students.
I am continuing to teach in Chichester & Worthing but have expansion plans for the near future, plus I have decided to write a teaching manual because I have developed a unique teaching method and plan to roll this out to others.