• Claudia Maybury

The Showgirls

Starring Stephanie Lavington, Claudia Rose Maybury, Vicki Leung, Chelsea Doring and Eliza Mae Hart (left to right) / Photos by Matthew Allsop

Being a woman can be both beautiful and painful. Not only in the dance industry, but in this world - a mans world.

.

This piece started off simply as a celebration of the women I spent most of last year working with, but I soon realised there was more to it than that.

.

For me this isn’t about steps or formations, or a cute video for the gram. It’s a moment I wanted this group to have, to celebrate our strength, passion, resilience, even shared trauma (not being dramatic), our divine femininity



As female dancers we get rejected on the regular, picked apart and are often seen as disposable. Conditioned to chase perfection and unattainable beauty standards. Even encouraged to compete against one another in this impossible fight. And rarely urged to speak our truth or have an opinion.

We get told we are too tall, too small, too skinny, not womanly enough, too curvy. Told to wear more make up, wear less clothes. Smile more. Be sexy, but not too sexy… ?! (A personal favourite)

We tie ourselves in knots. And where does it end?



It ends when we take control of our identity, our art and our bodies as vessels for that art. When we harness our individuality as our power, only then are we truly free.

.

This piece was born out of rejection, exhaustion with the injustice of the industry, not being treated with respect, the dedication to our art that often gets taken for granted.

And yet from of all of this, there is beauty.

I put on a lot of different hats as a dancer, and one of those is a Showgirl - ironically it is quite often an actual hat or headpiece, which looks beautiful and glamorous but can give you a pretty dull headache after a while of wearing it. An appropriate metaphor for being a Showgirl, I think.

.

Being a dancer is like being female. It's beauty and pain all wrapped up into one.

But Showgirls... we have something else that I can’t put my finger on. Often exploited yet worshipped in the same breath. Showing some skin can be both empowering and degrading. Dazzling costumes that have been painstakingly stoned with tiny little crystals catch the lights and we appear untouchable. High legs and hopes, there is wonder in our eyes as we move. For a moment we feel free, we feel the power of our femininity, we are in control as audiences fixate on our performance. We put on a show.

.

The reality of being a Showgirl for me has been more complex. Our destiny is often in the hands of high rollers, usually men, and Alpha’s at that. We are given a platform to be celebrated but often at a cost. Yet, we show up. For that moment we hold so dear. To take the stage - a feeling of getting lost, but at the same time belonging. Each step, each performance an extension of our story, our childhood, life experiences, relationships, our training, triumphs and traumas, passions and heartbreaks - for the days we didn’t even want to get out of bed but showed up on stage. It’s beautiful, to me.



You can watch The Showgirls in full here Shot by Josh Weston (@byjoshwest)




8 views1 comment