The Intrigue of Burlesque

What’s the Big Deal about Burlesque?

wpid-p010.jpgIt’s true that the burlesque scene has exploded in the last ten to fifteen years with the rise of such an amazing stars as Dita Von Teese and Dirty Martini, but really, burlesque never died — it just wasn’t as visible to the public. With the recent production of movies like Moulin Rouge (Nicole Kidman) and Burlesque (Christina Aguilera and Cher) the inherent beauty of burlesque was made relevant to pop culture and the public felt like they had been given access to an otherwise “underworld” industry.

So what is it that makes burlesque so appealing to the masses? From the audience’s perspective, it is simple. Who wouldn’t want to watch a beautiful woman dance around on the stage and strip down to next to nothing?!? That’s a no-brainer. However, the question becomes … why does the entertainer become a part of the industry in the first place? What’s so appealing about it? Is it the sound of the audience’s applause? Is it the deep need to have a career in entertainment but just not on Broadway? Is it the need to feel wanted and beautiful?

The answer is, of course, yes to all of these. So I thought I would take a moment and explain to you why it is that Lady Grey does what she does, because, just like everyone else, it is multi-faceted.

Why Burlesque is Important to Me
1. I love to entertain. I’ve been a dancer my entire life, and there’s nothing more appealing to me then putting a smile on someone’s face or my helping them to feel something different – more real and more alive than they did before they walked in the door.

731663fbaa39207189b843237f56b2e12. I have been tap dancing for 30 years, and I’ve taught for 27 years. I have finally reached the point in my career where I feel like I have stagnated, and it’s time to discover something new. For a while, I struggled, thinking that I should be teaching teachers how to teach. I may still do that, but as far as entertaining goes, I am no longer young enough to keep up with the spring chickens who are creating excellent tap works on the New York City and LA scenes.

What I do have is a maturity and an understanding of audience appeal, vernacular jazz, and vintage dance like swing and Charleston that I’ve never explored as a performer. So for me this is an opportunity to fuse my exceptional tap experience with those vintage styles and be able to explore a new art form.

3. I’m deeply in love with old Hollywood and the Roaring Twenties. Some of this is due to the magical music that existed in that day in age — the melodies that are so timeless, that we recognize and have grown to love — from Benny Goodman’s Sing Sing Sing to simple songs like Jeepers Creepers. Many times, that iconic music had accompanying movement that was immortalized on film or made famous by a dance that got passed on through the generations. However, there are scads of songs that have not been danced to their fullest!

Because of lack of exposure to current audiencegoers, there are also many famous numbers that are quickly being lost. My goal is to resurrect numbers from the greats – such as Eleanor Powell, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Shirley Temple, Judy Garland, Ann Miller, Josephine Baker, and more.

4. Last week, a good friend said this to me: “You remind me of Gypsy Rose Lee’s more attractive granddaughter. You truly do have that classic 30s to 50s sophisticated side of the coin — that classic demure above, degenerate below look of Rose, Lily, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly — as opposed to the overt sex bomb looks of Tempest, Blaze, Monroe, etc. In short, though, you are a strikingly attractive woman.” What more could a woman ask for than to be compared to the likes of THAT list? Oh my goodness. I felt beautiful. And as if people other than me thought so too.

Grace Kelly Style Icon Fur   AudreyHepburn   lilistcyr   gypsy_rose_lee_wm

So here I sit, drumming up tons of ideas for my burlesque career, realizing that the “why” behind burlesque is because it is freeing and it makes people happy. What more excuse does one need? People who view burlesque work as objectifying women are so very, very far from the truth. For many of us, it is the path to freedom, self-acceptance, and finding our voice.

Lovelies, I must go now, but I would love to hear from my burlesque sisters out there. What are your thoughts on the intrigue of burlesque?

Love,
Lady Grey

Top 10 Tuesday: Self-Care for Women

Ok, ladies. Here it is. The moment of truth when I ask you if you are really taking care of yourself. No, I don’t care about your eyebrows or your workout schedule. I just mean are you forgetting to take care of yourself because you spend every waking minute taking care of others? So often, women consider themselves selfish if they dedicate any time or energy to self-care, as if the world is judging them for taking a moment to apply a little lipstick.

What the world needs from you is the energized, happy you, not the self-depraved, exhausted you. Your children need a mommy who is affectionate and patient. Your significant other needs someone to rely on. Your friends need you to be a good listener and loyal gal. Your coworkers need to know you are alert and bringing your A game.

So here are 10 simple ways (not the only ways, but 10 I came up with) to care for yourself without making extreme changes to your day and without breaking the bank.

1. Sleep. All of us are guilty of burning the candle at both ends so we can pay bills or waking before the rest of the gang to make sure we have some time to ourselves. But in doing so, do we sacrifice our own health and make ourselves more stressed out? You are better served sleeping your 7 or 8 hours a night and being more efficient during your waking hours. Sleep has been shown to improve everything from memory to weight loss, so don’t skimp here. So grab yourself a comfy pair of your favorite pj’s (or none at all, if that’s how you roll), and start dreaming!

eatinghealthy2. Eating healthy. I’m guilty as charged. I grab and go. I cheat when I’m at work lunches. I make dinners that are way too processed and hardly enough “clean” food. In our fast-paced, break-neck society, there is hardly enough time to breath, let alone make good food choices.

But it’s important to care for yourself (and indirectly, your loved ones) by stocking your home with healthy snacks. Hummus, baby carrots, bananas, apples, almonds – these are all great snacks I can throw in my purse. I even found little snack-sized containers of hummus at the grocery store this month. Perfect for dipping vegetables and laden with protein!

As for meals, I try and stick to fruit or whole grain bars without preservatives in them, occasionally succumbing to the bagel and cream cheese temptation when I’m having a bad morning. I do my best to balance my work lunches – salads with protein, even if eating at a fast food joint. I love grabbing hard-boiled eggs, which most markets have in their quick lunch refrigerator section now, too. Dinner is always a challenge with the crazy dance studio schedule I keep, but I try to make sure I balance meals and don’t eat after I’m done teaching (around 9 pm at night).

No more soda. Is this even a question? Just don’t drink it. It’s like putting sugary formaldehyde in your body. Just say no.sallyhansenhardasnailssterngthener

3. Nails. As a little girl, I watched my mother paint her nails meticulously at least twice a week, once on Saturday evenings and once midweek when she had done most of her gardening. No excuses – you don’t need a professional manicure. You don’t. Take care of your SELF. At least buff your nails and push your cuticles back once a week, even if you have to do it in the shower. To protect your nails, use Sally Hansen Hard as Nails products. I have always used them to help my nails bounce back after gels, acrylics, splits, etc. Amazing products and even just the top coat will perk up your nails and keep them healthy and shiny.

remingtonrollers4. Hair. I’m a dance teacher and a mommy. I’ve spent the last 27 years in a ponytail, a bun, or a french twist. In the last few months, I bough myself new hot rollers and a few new hair products. Now, when I’m tempted to just throw my hair up wet, I’ll make myself blow dry and style it. Now, when I have a messy bedhead, I have a great straightener and can use it to clean up my tresses in just a few minutes. I have gotten countless compliments on how much younger and less “serious” (read: severe) I look with my hair down. I love feeling like I’m channeling my inner Rita Hayworth!

5. Skin care. This isn’t all that hard. Just get yourself a beautiful jar of coconut oil. Seriously. I’ve never fallen so madly in love with any skin care product EVER. Ditch all the chemicals and nonsense, and cut straight to the chase. I use it as eye makeup remover, moisturizer (all over my body), deep conditioner on my hair, and more. If you don’t believe me, check out this article.

6. Undergarments. A little story for you. I once had thousands and thousands of dollars of lingerie – corsets, garter belts, stockings, bras, panties, you name it. Then I got married and had kids. It’s a long story, but I literally got rid of all but one corset. Do you know how lovely it feels to buy yourself cute panties again?!? I’ve put a small allowance in my monthly budget to replace all the crappy undergarments that currently take up residence in my dresser. I’ve begun wearing stockings to work, matching (gasp) bras and panties, waist trainers, and more. Talk about reminding yourself how to feel feminine again! If you don’t belong to Victoria’s Secrets Angel Reward program, make sure you join so you get your coupon in the mail each month for a free panty. That’s what originally got me back in the store!

7. Time with friends. So often, we forget that there are friends who have our back. We often can pick up with them right where we left off, and they will understand every last success and struggle you’ve had. It need not be a coffee date; a phone call will suffice. I like to call my friends when I’m traveling to and from work. Work your way down through your contact list and then start back up at the top again when you finish. Bogged down by kids all day? Try texting a friend and having a shared “virtual” glass of wine while you chat for 20 minutes just after the kids go to bed!

8. Quiet time. Maybe I’m strange, but I can’t live without this. Some of us pray, some of us write, some of us meditate. But everyone needs time to just BE. No obligations, no distractions. So go somewhere alone, whether a walk in your neighborhood, a moment in the kitchen with a hot cup of coffee, a fragrant candle and a good book, or just quiet, silent space in your room. Recharge for 15 minutes. Five, if you can’t manage 15. Allow yourself to be filled up again with positive thoughts and happiness. Breath deeply and remember not to sweat the small stuff.

vintagelife9. Small luxuries. Speaking of small stuff, can you really afford to NOT grab a copy of Vintage Life? (By the way, I am now accepting subscription gifts if anyone is feeling generous today!) Mentally, is it going to make the world of difference if you get yourself a new travel mug or buy that dark chocolate in the checkout if everyone at home is grumpy tonight? It is, it will make the difference. And you will be a better woman for it this day, week, month. Work it into your budget so you can pamper yourself just a little – those little luxuries go a long way to making day-to-day life less daunting.

10. That one little thing (OLT). For you, this might be clean sheets. It might be cream in your coffee. It might be jamming out to your favorite song in the car. Whatever sets you right and makes you pause for even just a moment to be thankful… that’s your one little thing. My OLT today is my blog. Talking to all of you helps me remember that we’re real, we’re human, and we’re all in this together.