Love You Burlesque would be nothing without all of the fabulous ladies who come and dance with us. Even more so, without our incredible tutors. Here at LYB, we thought that you’d like to meet our tutors to find out what makes them shimmy, teach and what it is about burlesque that gets them hot under the collar! This week you get to meet a pin-up bombshell, the stunning Misfit Monroe…
Tell us about your burlesque or performance background
I started dance classes at the age of 5 and learned ballet, tap, modern dance, jazz and even disco! I continued into my teens and took part in many competitions and performances over the years. I then went on to study Dance and Drama at university where I learned contemporary dance. I had always wanted to act so in my mid twenties I went to Drama school where my dance background proved very useful. We had to learn period dance which was very different from anything I had done before! I feel at home on stage and as soon as I started burlesque classes (around 5 years ago) I knew I wanted to challenge myself to take it to the stage.
What was it about burlesque that made you want to take part and teach?
Initially it was just something fun to do with a friend and the glamour of it all really appealed to me as I love to get dressed up. My teacher was Kimmy Von Shimmy and I loved her energy: she was just a bundle of fabulousness and I wanted to exude some of that confidence myself. Once you have discovered the magic powers these classes can have you just want to share the love, so when the opportunity to teach was presented, I could not say “yes” quickly enough!
3. How do you think burlesque helps cultivate a positive body image?
I didn’t discover burlesque until my mid thirties after a lifetime of feeling “too fat” and “not pretty enough”. I had never viewed my body with any kind of love or positivity and I knew I wanted that to change. I was working crazy hours as a school teacher and literally running my poor body into the ground. I didn’t eat or rest properly and inevitably became very unwell. I now live with chronic illness and have been forced to recognise that we need to respect and appreciate our bodies instead of constantly criticising and berating them. Burlesque is a powerful tool when it comes to undoing those core negative beliefs we have about ourselves. It invites you to explore, enjoy and celebrate our bodies in a safe space. It’s a total game-changer.
What is your favourite thing about burlesque?
I love how inclusive it is. Burlesque is literally open to anyone regardless of their age, gender, body shape, physical abilities. It gives people a platform to be expressive and tell their stories in a way they may not necessarily be able to do in the “real world”. I always say that my burlesque persona is much braver than me!
What’s your favourite song to perform to?
That is a very hard question to answer! I love to mix it up. I enjoy the classic, more traditional burlesque songs but I also love to experiment with modern music. I am hugely inspired and excited by drag culture so anything by Rupaul will get me dancing! When I got through to the finals of Miss Pinup UK last year I performed a new routine that included his song “Call Me Mother” and I was living my best life up on that stage! I felt like a fierce queen! Hopefully I’ll get the chance to perform it for you all at some point.
Have you ever had any wardrobe mishaps mid-performance and how did you recover?
I’ve been quite fortunate so far but did one try and pull a fancy move that involved lifting my foot up behind me whilst removing my stocking and then pulling it up over my head, only for it to get stuck in my fancy hair piece. It was a panicky few seconds and in the end I had to use brute force to rip it out. I also discovered recently that no matter how pretty stoned fishnet tights look, if your thighs touch they are a disaster! You end up with a tangled, sparkly, spider web between your legs and literally become trapped in them!
What do you enjoy about being a tutor for Love You Burlesque?
The wonderful, wonderful ladies! I get such a kick out of seeing them transform before my eyes. Seeing them come to their first class in a tracksuit and by week 8 they are rocking a corset and frilly knickers because their confidence has sky-rocketed is the most rewarding thing. I always bounce out of class with a grin on my face, regardless of what kind of day I have had. What a joyful way to make a living, I feel very lucky.
When was the time you felt most empowered in burlesque?
I think the first time I ever performed a solo routine. After a lifetime spent performing and being on stage, I have never felt so nervous and scared as I did before that 3 minutes. It was so far out of my comfort zone and I was going to have to take my dress off in front of people. It didn’t help that I had been put first in the running order! I felt so incredibly vulnerable. But when I came off stage and received such incredible support and positive feedback I started to feel invincible. I realised I had taken my clothes off in front of people and nothing bad had happened. In fact, people were celebrating my body! It was then I realised that it was time for me to start doing the same. Nothing beats that feeling when you come off stage and think “I did it!!”
If you could give one piece of advice to anyone thinking about taking up burlesque classes, what would it be?
Oh my darling do it! Feel the fear and shake your sparkly knickers at it. It is so much more than just a dance class, it’s a life-changer!