Full of curiosity and a desire to move my body in a rather different way, I found myself spending Tuesday evenings at Marlene Von Steenvag’s Berlin Burlesque Academy. The Secrets of Burlesque course was so inspiring and a great deal of fun, I absolutely had to find out more. (click the link above to read my review)
Beautiful, intelligent and naturally charming, it’s a true pleasure to bring you Part 1 of this exclusive interview with artist, performer and entrepreneur Marlene Von Steenvag.
What is your profession?
I’m a Burlesque Artist, an Entrepreneur and the Founder of Berlin’s Burlesque Empire.
So what actually is Burlesque?
It’s an exploration of feminity and movement and story telling, often a way of exploring fantasy, desire or an alter ego. The Burlesque we teach is sophisticated, it’s high end, but still erotic and sensual, it’s all about elegance. I think this combination excites interest from a variety of people. During our classes, we ensure that our guests never have to do anything they are uncomfortable with and that it is never vulgar. The performer is the subject in Burlesque. They are in control and can create the act they want to, restricted only by imagination. You see a character, you see a personality and what they have to say.
In Berlin, there was a big 1920’s scene and it was very provocative and usually completely nude. Burlesque, as we understand it now, actually comes from the US in the 1940’s, where they created a law that you couldn’t show any primary and secondary sexual parts, so the nipples had to be hidden and the string panties had to be on. So what performers did was put glittery and sparkly things on those parts, actually drawing people’s eyes there! Burlesque is much more moderate than what we saw in the 1920’s. It’s an art form that is sensual rather than sexual. Obviously, within a true Burlesque act, you are expected to remove some clothes. The how and the what and the amount is down to the creativity and confidence of the performer.
What do you actually do? As an artist, I design shows that feature topics that are within me – topics that I want to bring out. Inspiration comes from varied sources and are always very creative and imaginative, well researched and I hope, inspirational. One act entitled “Beyond Infinity” came to creation while I was having my baby in my arms: I was forced into calmness and couldn’t do anything. This reminded me of being a child and asking my father the question what actually is infinity. My father was a professor working on virtual reality in connection with NASA. That moment with my child made me understand that for me infinity is pure love. I felt the need to share this with the world.
My Academy opens the art of Burlesque to people who seek to realise an aspect of their personality in a safe and welcoming place. I strive to empower people to feel good about their bodies, their desires, their spirits. Typically, people seek to explore burlesque for a multitude of reasons. We offer sophisticated, elegant, quality instruction that allows people to feel at harmony with themselves and their thoughts and their wishes.
Sometimes you might have a sexual desire and you don’t feel good about it, or you might have a problem with your body, you might think, “my thighs are too big” and then you have someone standing in front of you with big thighs oozing confidence, or you have this feeling of wanting to be the centre of attention and you don’t allow it to yourself. My classes encourage people to be free and to explore and express themselves and this is what I do because I really believe in it.
Alongside the classes, I teach 1:1 with all types of people. People who want to be on stage, people who don’t feel at home in their bodies, actors preparing for a role or women seeking to be more feminine. Sometimes also people seeking to unleash an aspect of themselves that they had kept hidden. In short, men and woman of all ages and sexuality come to our Academy.
Coming up in Part 2…
What sparked Marlene’s journey into the world of Burlesque?
What motivates and challenges this inspiring Mompreneur?
What advice does she have to share for budding entrepreneurs?
Berlin Burlesque Academy
Griefenhagener Str. 64
10437 Berlin (Prenzlauer Berg)
Marlene von Steenvag will be performing as part of The Berlin Burlesque Festival which takes place from October 17th – 2oth in Berlin’s Heimathafen and The Wintergarden. Grab your tickets NOW!