Student by day, dancer by night
Culture / April 24, 2012
Burlesque is a sex-positive, feminist activity says local burlesque dancer and Kwantlen student.
By Sarah Schuchard
She struts on stage, each step fluid and methodically planned out.
Letting her coat spill onto the floor, with one swift movement she takes off her bra to reveal glittered nipple pasties.
Preferred to be called by her formal stage name, Miss Fitt attends university by day, and performs as a burlesque dancer for Pandora and the Locksmith by night. Fitt managed to obtain an associate’s degree in psychology at Kwantlen, before attending UBC for her bachelor of phsychology.
A professional dancer since the age of 18, it came as no surprise for Fitt to stumble upon the art of strip tease.
Fitt discovered the burlesque world through fellow singer, Burnaby Brix who was already involved in the art.
As well as singing, go-go dancing, cabaret, and performing in a number of cover bands, Fitt’s dance career has enabled her to experience and learn things she wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.
One of the many opportunities that has been presented to Fitt includes a performance for the Malaysian royal family, which she describes as one of the craziest karaoke parties she’s been to.
Growing up as a very extroverted show-off-type person, Fitt says, she finds the art of burlesque to be an empowering experience.
With its liberating undertone and strong sense of female empowerment, burlesque has become an art form that celebrates womens bodies in every age, ethnicity and shape.
Although a sex-positive feminist place that rejects oppression, Fitt explains, this risqué and unconventional art has publicly received a vast spectrum of reactions.
If not expecting to see Cher and Christina Aguilera strutting in glitter embroidered bustiers, some people find watching a performer strip down to nipple pasties as something they may not be able to, “know what’s appropriate, how to react, [or] how to take it,” says Fitt.
In the art of burlesque, one could connect the conventions of the art to that of a strip club, where empowerment and a positive, healthy view of the female body is rarely associated in the same mind set.
Admittedly, Fitt confides that while some performers wish to separate their artistic image from that of a stripper, there is a sense of freedom that also might be associated in the a strip club.
In associating conventional stripping with a shameful act ultimately one would be, “buying right into the oppressive, patriarchal society we do live in,” Fitt explains.
Performing and creating to reject oppression, Fitt, along with the colourful group of artists and feminists, has formed into a community from one of the most liberated and warm of audiences.
The true burlesque junkies and those who just want to experience the highs and liberation of it all, embrace the artist’s, – both new and seasoned – to encourage and to truly support the thought and belief of female empowerment.
Fitt encourages them to observe, take classes, workshops, and to explore their own creative capabilities and definitions in life as she has in experiencing the underground and taboo world of glamorous strip tease.
Although she acknowledges that some conservative aspects of society might disapprove, to her burlesque is a wholly positive experience. “It’s awesome, it’s beautiful, and [I’m] proud of it,” she says.
Miss Fitt performs with Pandora and the Locksmith every second Tuesday of the month at Vancouver’s Guilt and Co.