One of the most important things about being an artist, or a professional anything, is to find your own authentic self. For a long time, I struggled with dancing. I loved it, but didn't seem to flourish with it. It wasn't until one night at 2AM when I was asking my hip hop crew director how I could improve that he told me the most revolutionizing advice. He said I was too in my head. When I danced, he could see me thinking. Granted, the choreography was literally fourteen moves in one eight count. (For those of you who don't know dance, that basically means, incredibly fast). Trying to shut my brain off and just allow the music to move me seemed impossible.
It wasn't until three years later when I began burlesque dancing that I finally understood. I was new to the scene and had only begun burlesque dancing. Up until this point, I had never worn pasties. For awhile, I never planned to. But one day I came across an audition for The Damn Devillez, a rock horror burlesque company. I had a feeling that I could join the crew and be successful at it. However, they were notorious for being ranchey and I still hadn't even worn pasties. But, I decided to go to the audition anyway and see if dance-wise I was at least cut out for it. Sure enough, I made it in. However, the director instantly warned me that I had to be ok with wearing pasties, otherwise, the company was not for me.
Seconds before hitting the stage with the band, I sank deep into the back of my mind. For the first time in my life, I triggered my alter ego, Alicia Cirque. As a kid I was always shy, nervous and painfully modest. But I was always aware that I had a dark side creeping around somewhere in the back of my mind, I just never knew how to access it. It was that moment before hitting the stage that I found it. I was suddenly some one else and I took over the stage with a level of confidence that I never knew I had.
Most people from my hometown see me burlesque dancing now and take it as a sign of promiscuity or loss of identity. I had to deal with a lot of criticism for it. It bothered me at first, but as time went on, the comments ceased to bother me at all. What they saw as promiscuity, I knew was confidence. I felt more enabled and empowered to be myself and embrace who I was fully. Moreover, my artistry flourished and from that day on, people began recognizing me as a dancer. Not just because I was a burlesque dancer that wore pasties, but because I had the confidence to develop my own sense of unique movement that set me apart from the rest of the industry and allowed me to get booked on a numerous more jobs than most dancers.
Of course, you don't have to wear pasties to be successful. You just have to be ready and willing to accept and understand who you are and allow and your most authentic self to shine through.