Question: Your background is in stage and film, what made you decide to become a
Burlesque performer and with the Burlesque class, when did you start this
venture and why?
Rather than go by one label I prefer to be called actor and performance artist who assumes
many roles in different mediums, whether it be a Shakespearian play, in a Burlesque
performance as a dancer and performer or a teacher of Burlesque.
A few years ago, I did a pole dancing course for fun and then a striptease course back to
back. the liberation and freedom I felt afterwards was immeasurable and a seed of a
creative business idea started to emerge.
In 2006 I enrolled for Certificate IV in Small Business Management through a government
scheme and presented them with an idea for a pole dancing and dance teaching
business. The idea was rejected as they saw it related to the sex industry!
I decided to modify my business outline, omitting the pole and striptease elements
and made it more about dance, fitness, movement. physical theatre and drama and
called it Dance 4 Fitness.
Upon finishing the course, I started reflecting about how my first business idea was
rejected and how other peoples viewpoints and judgements effect us. Also, how
stereotypes and labels are limiting thought patterns.
I began to research women and their roles in history, censorship versus liberation
and the women themselves who performed burlesque and those that expressed
themselves in expressionist nude dance throughout history.
Burlesque in America was inspired by an English troupe called Lydia Thompson and
her British Blondes in 1860’s, who danced in their underwear, played around with
gender and also performed in mens clothes. People were queueing around the block,
to try and get into the show! At that time, Burlesque was a popular entertainment art
form based around dance, musicality, comedy and the art of the tease, derived from
In 2008, a Burlesque performer doing a PHD in in Burlesque was visiting from interstate to
teach a workshop and there was an opportunity to perform at a live venue.
I devised a rough outline for a solo act, chose the music and made part of the costume
myself at the last minute, actually sewing my skirt, just before I literally went on stage!
The act was highly improvisational and the audience were so close I could reach out
and touch them!
All of the other perfomers did striptease acts where they peeled off costume layers
revealing a partially nude body. I wanted to show the myriad of emotions from
light to dark, the pleasure and the pain through my physical body, in a series of
poses and gesture, experimenting with stillness and erratic, uncontrolled dancing.
Years later, upon reflection I realise there were elements in my performance different
genres including the grand gestures of Elizabethan theatre, expressionist dancing and
I became Madame Pearl, a turn of the century Parisian prostitute, the words of the song
‘Bring On The Men’ evoking emotional responses in me, which I then physicalised.
I ate strawberries, symbolising seduction and sweetness and threw some into the
audience. Afterwards a lady came up to me excited, saying one landed in her
champagne glass and could she have a photo with me.
I was delighted to be mentioned in a review as one of the highlights of the show
and receiving feedback from a male perspective. I discovered Burlesque peformance
doesn’t have to be about beauty and glamour or revealing nakedness. Burlesque as
an art form is undefinable, and can be interpreted in different ways.
Externally we can appreciate the beauty, vintage glamour, and costumes of burlesque
but upon analysing the art form it goes to a much deeper level, and is a study of the
complexities of the human condition, gender roles and subversion.
Question: What genre or genres of burlesque do you consider your work to be?
Theatre Art! I have performed in bars and party atmospheres and don’t enjoy it. As an
artist I desire my audience to be quiet and absorb the performance in its entirety,
without any interruptions! The immediacy of intimate live theatre is the medium I prefer
to work in and my theatre art reflects imagery from theatre and film I have seen before.
I use bohemian, carnival, gypsy, circus, vaudevillian aspects, mythical figures Goddesses
from Greek literature; Aphrodite and the Sirens, Biblical figures such as Eve, Delilah,
Salome and Jezebel, Sapphus and Succubus.
Question: Who are your major influences?
Life, the universe, beauty! Books I have read and film I have seen depicting periods of
history; the Renaissance, Restoration, Belle Epoque, the roaring twenties in Europe, a time
when cities like Berlin, Paris and Shanghai were cities of hedonistic sin and pleasures of
the flesh were celebrated! Moulin Rouge at the turn of the 19th cenury!
I am influenced by those who have expressed themselves through heart, love and passion
throughout history. The genius of Shakespeare, Mozart, Michaelangelo, Botticelli,
erotic literature by Marquis de Sade, and Anais Nin, expressionist dancers especially Anita
Berber who was a german actress, expressionist and nude dancer in the twenties.
Femme fatales and powerful women from history also fascinate me, witches, also
actresses and dancers, Mata Hari, Lola Montez, Josephine Baker, Lili St Cyr,
Gypsy Rose Lee, Bettie Page and Marilyn Monroe.
The Victorian era fascinated me because women were encased in a corset so
tightlaced they couldn’t breathe, which seems so symbolic of women throughout
history not having a voice and looked upon as a chattel, property for a man and for
Novels such as ‘Dracula’, ‘Jekyll & Hyde’, and ‘Jack The Ripper’ all hold an eroticism,
evoking power, passion and madness which I use as an inspiration in my work.
Modern day performance artists “The Burlesque Hour” are inspiring as they delve deeply
into the female body and desire, their work is always thought provoking, confronting and
Dita Von Teese whose has brought back glamour, and sensuality to the modern day and
Ursula Martinez from the United Kingdom, whose work is refreshing and funny, the full
body nudity she exhibits in her stage acts are natural and tastefully done. She is totally
at home in her own skin, has a good laugh at herself, and doesn’t take herself too
seriously which is so refreshing!
Question: Where have you performed?
As an actor I have performed at theatres in New Zealand and Melbourne, The Athenaeum,
La Mama, Chapel Off Chapel and St Martins Theatre.
As a Burlesque performer I have performed in a variety of settings; bars like Miss Libertine
and Libation, hens and birthday parties, magazine launches,
Question: Are there any upcoming shows?
I am currently rehearsing a Shakespearian project being devised by a young talented
theatre creator, which will be performed at Donkey Wheel House at the end of September.
After that I will continue with a performance project I have on the go, a work in progress.
Eventually I am aiming to assemble a professional team to collaborate in devising this
idea into an orginal piece of theatre performance art to travel to fringe festivals in Australia
In my career and work, I want to explore and take risks. and to create fully realised
characters, exploring the human psyche and archetypes, not just the light and dark
but the different shades in between. Experimenting with written word, and poetry, using
haunting music, ethereal lighting, original stage and costume design to create a very
special experience for an audience.
Question: There seems to be a growing amount of women taking up this art form, why
do you think its so popular and whats the appeal?
Burlesque appeals to women because it allows a woman the opportunity to express herself
through the medium of dance and theatre, building self confidence and a sense of
empowerment. The atmosphere in a burlesque class is supportive and the group energy
enables you to move through any blocks or fears holding you back.
In society, where humans are told to hide the emotions, to keep our sexuality under wraps,
and not stand out from everybody else, Burlesque does exactly the opposite! Its about
expressing yourself through the body and the mind, experiencing the joy and rapture
of the soul, learning to not judge yourself but to live in the now, and in a state of simply just
being! True beauty comes from the soul, and from within!
At the end of my Shimmy & Shake Burlesque courses the transformation in the students
is evident as they emerge more confident and happy with themselves.
I firmly believe Burlesque is beneficial for every woman, and especially relevant for
actors and other performers, enabling them to deliver organic, alive, connected and engaging
Shimmy & Shake Burlesque classes take you on a journey liberating the mind and body,
allowing freedom of expression of the physical sexual self, but also freeing the mind from
any old, outdated modes of thinking in relation to women and their sexua