Finding herself in burlesque class

Rachel Roberts encourages mums to do something for themselves.

Rachel Roberts encourages mums to do something for themselves.

When mother-of-three Rachel Roberts enters the dance studio, she feels her old self resurfacing.

Every Monday night, Rachel joins a group of other women at Blenheim's Momentum Dance Studio adult burlesque class and shrugs off her "mum" mantle for a blissful hour.

"It's so opposite from being a mum. You lose yourself and, while you don't forget the kids, you have that time to be a sexy woman again."

Burlesque has a reputation for being a provocative style of dance, conjuring images of simmering, busty women in fishnet stockings, tight corsets and bustled skirts.

Rachel says while burlesque is undoubtedly "sexy", for her it's more about being confident with herself, her post-baby body, and expressing herself as a strong but sexy woman through movement.

"It's an individual dance that you can express yourself through, and just be a little more than just mum. You feel like you're doing something for yourself and bringing your old self back."

With a lifelong background in dance including tap and salsa, Rachel says burlesque was something she'd always wanted to try.

After enrolling her daughters Kadie, 5, and Harper, 3, in their own Momentum dance class, Rachel heard about Momentum's burlesque class and decided it was time to pick up her old hobby again after more than five years away from the dance floor.

Just getting out the door takes dedication. Besides raising Kadie, Harper and Willow, 20 months, Rachel, 28, is a Marlborough district manager for skincare and cosmetics company Arbonne and also sells products through her Facebook page which she aptly named 'Time for Me'.

With husband Ben McLennan, a Harcourts real estate agent, working most evenings, he and Rachel run a tight ship every Monday to ensure she can attend the class.

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"I get all the girls ready for bed, and as soon as he walks in the door I just bolt."

In class, Momentum Dance Company owner and teacher Jess Foley instructs the group a routine over about four lessons and incorporates different styles such as hip hop, to modern music, says Rachel.

Jess says she'd love to see more adults trying dance, burlesque or otherwise.

Rachel adds that while the prospect may seem daunting to some, she encourages people to try it, and says the classes offer a supportive environment.

"Do it. I'm a firm believer of not making anybody feel like they're being judged. Every woman in this class is a completely different body shape. If anything, it'll help them find their confidence. I really rate Jess, she's awesome and very encouraging."

Burlesque also provides a great fun workout, says Rachel.

"It's a bit slower (than other dance styles) but there's ups and downs and turns.  It's quite physical still, but it's not hard."

Ultimately, Rachel hopes that the confidence she gains from burlesque dancing filters down to her daughters.

"I believe if I show confidence, they'll be confident - even if you have to 'fake it till you make it'."


 - The Marlborough Express

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