I am no stranger to the stage. I started dancing when I was in grade 4, and I soon started doing musical theatre with my dance studio, and then with my school and local theatre companies. In all my years of dancing and performing, burlesque was something I had never tried, until last night.
Most recently, I did Cabaret with the Carleton Musical Theatre Society. I met a bunch of amazing people during that show, and our wonderful Emcee, Sam, asked me and my friend Michelle if we would be interested in performing one of our numbers at a burlesque show. The number is called Two Ladies and it was one of my favourite numbers I got to do in Cabaret. Working with Sam and Michelle is always such a pleasure so I said yes! Unfortunately, Michelle was entered in a singing competition that night (she killed it, naturally), but one of our other marvelous cast mates Bev was willing to fill in.
Honestly, I had no idea what to expect. I knew of burlesque, and I have a friend who is an amateur burlesque dancer, but I hadn’t really been exposed to much of it. We walked into the venue with our corsets in hand and headed right for the changing room. It was this really small area where all the performers went to change, and you had to be real comfortable because there was no privacy. Luckily for us I didn’t think there was a big issue. We’ve all shared dressing rooms before in theatres, and the rest of the people didn’t seem to pay much attention to what was going on. Alternatively, everyone was just so comfortable with their own bodies to not get giggly or uncomfortable when other people were changing.
When we were ready to go, we went to finish watching the first set. I was honestly amazed by the diversity of the performers, how much confidence they had, and how incredible supportive the entire environment was. There were male and female performers of all ages and body types, and every single one of them put on an amazing performance. These performers were getting up on stage, most of them were taking their clothes off and there was no judgement from anybody in that room. In fact, one girl was making her solo burlesque debut, and after she came off, she was congratulated and embraced by her friends and other performers.
Our number was slightly different from the rest of the numbers, in that we weren’t taking our clothes off (although we were not wearing a ton of clothes to begin with) and it was a musical theatre song that we were singing along to. While we had a few hiccups with not being able to hear the music, everyone seemed to genuinely enjoy our number! We were congratulated by people as we walked back into the dressing room to change and go home. After all, we only performed around 11:30 and that is way past my bedtime.
I was amazed by the amount of support and community in that room that night. It was incredible to be surrounded by such confident, kind people. While I’m not sure if it’s something I will ever do again (musical theatre is much more my style) I now have a different view of the community and I am definitely grateful for the experience.