They all have kids, and have a variety of jobs, such as teacher, secretary, architect, with a variety of hobbies, but what they have in common is a passion that brings them together twice a week in a dance school in Bucharest, in order to stay in shape, but also to get in touch better with their femininity. Their passion is burlesque.
We talked to Camelia Maxim, former school teacher and dance instructor for this group:
“We went through various dance styles, but we settled on the sensual kind, because I felt that I found myself more in it, and it is where I feel more inspired, and can offer more to other women, and help them rediscover this side, and even amplify it. I didn't know about burlesque, I found it on YouTube, clips from festivals, and I was fascinated, because I think it is the most sensual dance form, and the most complete, because it blends sensuality and humor.
Camelia Maxim told us that it was just a single step from discovering the style to starting to teach it:
“At some point, a group of my women students asked me how they could discover their femininity. I took the spiritual road. As a dance instructor, I was asked to teach them dancing. Women need to discover their sensuality because many of them, in their everyday life, forget to be women, to be sensual.”
We then asked Camelia to tell us about her students:
“They are women from between 22 or 25 to even 50 years of age. Some come here because they feel masculine, they want to be more feminine. At some point I had students come here because they were sent by their therapist, because they had blockages about this. Others came simply to surprise their husbands or boyfriends.”
We got to speak to one of the students, Monica, who is a 38 year-old mother, and has been passionate about this style for two years now. We asked her how she discovered it:
“I was looking for a dance style that would take me out of my comfort zone. I was looking for something that would give me self-confidence, where I could feel more feminine, explore my sensuality, and accept myself as I am, and evolve from a feminine point of view. In fact, the idea of burlesque had been on my mind for a few years, after seeing a movie. I looked for details about this style of dance, and I saw how it is seen by others, and I realized I had found what I was looking for.”
Monica went on to tell us that this has been a unique experience:
“I remember that at first I was prepared to come here as I would to a gym, with a track suit, a big T-shirt, and I found myself in a world in which the other women wore a corset, garter stockings, and elbow length gloves. I told myself that I could never dress like that. They were very daring, they are beautiful and sensual, and I thought I could never be like that. At that time I was weighing 13 kg more than now. I had an inferiority complex. I admired them, and wanted to be like them. But then I went back to my teenage style, I started to trust myself with wearing miniskirts, with wearing tight shirts, with dressing for style. I gained more confidence, I started trusting myself to get into new projects, to evolve.”
This was an evolution guided by dance instructor Camelia Maxim, as Monica told us:
“Camelia works with us not only on technical side, she works very much on the psychological side, she works to make us more feminine. At first she told us to look in the mirror all the time, to admire ourselves. I did not know how to admire myself in the mirror. But she guided us to become more self-confident, more feminine and sensual, more in charge of ourselves. She taught us how to walk, how to sit in a chair to look feminine and elegant. It's not about sitting down, it's about what you convey when you do so. That is what burlesque means to me, it is more than just a dance style.”
Monica told us that it is all about accepting oneself, about behavior and evolution:
“Each dance class starts with a good warm-up. We cannot use cabaret elements without a good workout. We cannot do dance moves on a chair without working hard our back muscles and abs. We cannot have a straight stance that is beautiful and elegant without our muscles being well toned. I noticed that in two years I lost weight, I sculpted my body, with a feminine musculature. I noticed that it is easier to work out for two hours or more without getting tired or having cramps. It is not just about dancing, it is about toning our entire bodies.”
The group of burlesque ladies have been putting on two shows a year to popularize their school, and last summer even came out with a show of their own making.