The Bur­lesque Dancer Next Door

Re­viv­ing old-school glam­our

Gulf & Main - - Contents - BY KRIS­TINE GILL

Net­tie Ben­nett and Rose Burstein are work­ing moth­ers and wives by day who dash from one re­spon­si­bil­ity to the next dressed in yoga pants and min­i­mal makeup. Ben­nett works in ac­count­ing for a car deal­er­ship, and Burstein splits her time be­tween a salon and a dance stu­dio. And then once or twice a week, they be­come Net­tie Boom and Rosie Lux­ure, dance in­struc­tors in sparkling heels and be­daz­zled corsets who lead a di­verse group of women learn­ing the art of bur­lesque. “It’s the art of tease,” Ben­nett says.

There’s his­tory to it. “It goes back even to bib­li­cal times with the seven veils,” Burstein chimes in. “It wasn’t about her strip­ping for the king. It was about her want­ing some­thing and know­ing how to get it.”

It’s with that power in mind that you can see how bur­lesque can in­flu­ence daily fash­ion. No, that doesn’t mean don­ning a corset in the of­fice. But there are facets of the time pe­riod and the aur a that seep into ev­ery­day cloth­ing choices and even the way these women carry them­selves. “I love the old-school glam­our of it,” Ben­nett says. “I know that’s what turned me onto it—Jayne Mans­field and Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe. The way you dress and even your pos­ture.”

“The so­phis­ti­ca­tion has been lost,” Burstein laments. “Like men who used to hold doors open for you, women who used to cross their legs. It’s act­ing like a lady.” “With class,” Ben­nett adds. The pair started the Women's Adult Dance group in Novem­ber 2015, teach­ing fe­male dancers of all skill lev­els how to dance to ev­ery­thing from hip-hop to jazz. From that dance class spun the idea for a ded­i­cated troupe of about 10 girls learn­ing rou­tines to be per­formed in front of an au­di­ence. The GLAM! BAM! Bur­lesque! girls had their first show in Fe­bru­ary 2016 at the Colos­seum in Naples. “Our show has a wide range of looks: women aged 24 to 37, of dif­fer­ent heights and dress sizes,” Burstein says. “Everyone can re­late to a girl in our show.”

Since then, they have had a hand­ful of en­cores in Bonita Springs and Fort My­ers, and per­formed at ev­ery­thing from fundrais­ers to pri­vate birth­day par­ties.

If you look past all that bare skin, what you’ll soon learn about bur­lesque is that it’s sexy but not sex­ual. Dancers peel their gloves off to the beat of a song, and slink out of a dr ess, but the lin­gerie stays on. And that’s a fine line these women can ex­pertly toe, about as well as they can tap out an eight count. “Some peo­ple ques­tion it,” Burstein says. “They say, ‘What will your kids think of this?’ But I’m also very proud of what I do, and I do it taste­fully.”

The cos­tumes worn in the shows are a com­bi­na­tion of pur­chased items with added flair and pieces made en­tirely from scratch. Burstein grew up sewing and did one year of fash­ion stud­ies in col­lege. As a clas­si­cally trained bal­le­rina, who “threw the point shoes out the win­dow” when she was in­tro­duced to hip-hop as a teen, she has made cos­tumes her whole life. Ben­nett is self-taught both in dance and cos­tume mak­ing. When their kids go to bed, these two get out the glue guns and spend hours craft­ing. Pic­ture lots of rhine­stones, feathers and tulle. They’ll buy a bra and high-waisted panty set from Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret, then painstak­ingly af­fix rhine­stones all over the cups, adding tas­sels to the waist­band. Burstein once made a white corset, start to fin­ish. An­other time she re-cre­ated a $1,000 Catherine D’Lish red robe us­ing $150 in sup­plies from a Min­nesota craft store and JoAnn Fab­rics. The re­sult was a floor-length chif­fon piece with feath­ery red fringe. (D’Lish is an artist spe­cial­iz­ing in bur­lesque.) What the two women have learned from danc­ing and cos­tume mak­ing has been less tan­gi­ble than ei­ther of those two skills: “Con­fi­dence,” Ben­nett says sim­ply. They have learned to embrace their bod­ies, their curves. On a daily ba­sis, that self-as­sured­ness is ob­vi­ous. “I like to feel good in what I’m wear­ing,” says Ben­nett, who wears the old Hol­ly­wood makeup reg­u­larly: a bold red lip, winged eye­liner and even that clas­sic Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe “dot.” Just not at work. Kris­tine Gill is a free­lance writer liv­ing in Naples and orig­i­nally from Ohio.

If you look past all that bare skin, what you’ll soon learn about bur­lesque is that it’s sexy but not sex­ual.

Net­tie Ben­nett, aka Net­tie Boom, be­lieves bur­lesque has much to of­fer the mod­ern woman.

Work­ing moms by day, dancers by night, Net­tie Ben­nett and Rose Burstein founded Women's Adult Dance to teach oth­ers the art of bur­lesque.

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