The Devil in Ms D'ville.

My burlesque journey started when I worked in a lingerie shop with Collective member, Abel Fox. I have always been fascinated by high glamour (the more excessive and expensive, the better in my opinion), red lipstick and sensuality. There was something about the femininity yet power that captured my imagination. However, I have also had many issues with body image and self confidence.

Valerie D'Ville reclines on a fur rug swathed in ruffles

I’d had many conversations with Abel about this over our time working together and told her I’d wanted to try burlesque, but didn't think I could due to my size. One fateful afternoon, Ms Fox introduced me to burlesque legend, Dirty Martini. “You see”, she said, “this woman is curves and jiggle. And she is one of the BIGGEST performers in the world! Look how she MOVES! Sure, there are the Dita Von Teese types, but burlesque is about more than that. Come to a class. You’ll see”. And so I did.

Whether it was curiosity or peer pressure, I found myself stumbling into a Sass & Tease Collective beginner course. It was the first time I had done anything new without the safety net of a friend being with me, and I remember feeling the anxiety rise in my chest as I sat in my car. I remember being so nervous about what people would think of me. I had no idea what to expect. What I found was the most diverse group of women and a room full of welcoming faces from the Collective members.

Valerie D'Ville draped in chiffon

By the end of the ten week course we had all shared many laughs, fab makeup tips and I can safely say that everything Abel had told me was true. There was more to burlesque than slim women with gravity-defying bosoms. I had so much fun in the beginner course (particularly the balloon pop), that I signed up for intermediate and THEN act development courses as soon as I could!

Since that moment of walking into the hall for the first time, I have had the privilege to perform alongside my mentors and peers in Sass & Tease shows and have competed in Burlesque Idol. The Sass & Tease Collective has inspired me, challenged me and opened my eyes to a lot of things I never thought I would experience.

Valerie D'Ville draped in chiffon

I have found myself surrounded by strong, creative women who have empowered me to express myself in ways previously unknown to me. Each member of the Collective brings something unique to the table, and have influenced me in countless ways (both in my performance and personal life). If you are looking for a new passion, a new creative outlet or a new lease on life, you wont find a more welcoming and accepting group of people to share the experience with.

In the words of Oscar Wilde (who we believe because he is smart and his quotes are all over Instagram), “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken”.

Photographs courtesy of Tony & Dave Cosplay Photographers and Catch Fox Photography.

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