Burlesque Dancers Promote Positive Body Image


Story Highlights

  • The Modern Pin-Ups are a cabaret-style dance group
  • The group prides themselves on performing at non-profit events
  • The Pin-Ups spun out of the Burlesque Aerobics class offered at Dance FX of Athens
  • A 24 year old pregnant woman finds confidence through a type of dancing

Athens, GA – On any given week-day you can find Amanda Cook managing clients of a media group in Athens, but every so often you can find her on stage performing for a crowd.

“My stage name is Miss Fire,” Cook says with a giggle. For four years she’s been dancing with the Modern Pin-Ups, a group of cabaret-style performers. “I can do this sexy dance thing at night time in my personal life, but I can be completely professional and do my job during the day,” she says.

Cook says performing with the Modern Pin-Ups has changed her life. “I have seen many changes in myself since I started dancing. I am way more confident now, I’m fearless, and I feel like I’m doing something unique with my life. And to me, that’s really important,” Cook continues, “Like every girl, I’ve been through some really insecure times and I think being in the Modern Pin-Ups and being up there dancing has given me this feeling of confidence with myself and my body.”

Performing has made her so comfortable with her body that she’s six months pregnant and still dancing. “I’ve been doing it for four years, why should I stop now? It makes me feel great,” she says. “A lot of women feel insecure in their pregnant bodies, but you’re pregnant.. It’s not like you’re fat.”

Cook says she’s been in the group for so long now, she has been able to see several personal transformations thanks to the Modern Pin-Ups. She says, “My favorite members tend to be the ones who have little to no dance experience and are timid on stage at the beginning.” The transformations that occur, Cook says, are the best part to watch. She adds, “Secondly, it’s pretty incredible to look back a year or so later and see how far they’ve come. They’re more confident, have really begun to shine on stage, and for some of them, you can tell it’s the first time in their lives they’ve felt sexy.” In the long run, Cook says they are better dancers, but that’s not what it is really about.

The Modern Pin-Ups is housed at Dance FX, a nonprofit studio in Athens. Grace Bagwell Adams founded the group in 2010 to give women an opportunity to dance choreographed pieces while becoming comfortable with their bodies and performance. “I think in the last ten years, especially after movies like Chicago and Burlesque, we’ve seen a renaissance in the interest of not only getting back to the era where we had great performers and entertainers, but not having to be a professional to do that,” she says. “I really saw a place for this group in the Athens community. There wasn’t really an outlet for what I call the ‘in-between dancers,’ the girls who may not have the experience to major in dance at UGA or to dance with the Concert Company at Dance FX.”

All of the performances the Modern Pin-Ups do are community-oriented. Each show supports some type of cause, including Project Safe, Athens Area Homeless Shelter, and Dance Athens.

The Modern Pin-Ups is made up of women who have little to no dance experience and others who have been dancing all of their lives. The group of twenty women is diverse, ranging in age, size, professions, and even religious affiliations. “We have a Mormon, a Catholic, non-religious members,” Devyn Mullis, member of two years says, “The diversity creates and environment where we’re able to be who we want to be and perform the way we want to perform.”

Even if they are performing under a stage name, soon-to-be lawyer by Miss Judged, an undergrad journalism student by Miss Report, and a mother, Miss Fortune. Some dancers may go by stage name to hide what they’re doing while others use it to get into character.

Cook, who considers herself an introvert, says, “If I had to go up on stage and give a speech, I would feel really uncomfortable and not do well at all, but going up there and playing Miss Fire I can perform for an audience because I’m playing a character. When I’m on stage I’m not being Amanda Cook, I’m being Miss Fire.”

Mullis, like each member of the Pin-Ups, is well-aware of the performance she puts on and is also aware everyone has their own opinion. “We shake our butts and we shimmy our boobs, and we’re not afraid to do it. And I think that’s what scares some people. They’re not used to it,” she continues, “People can react negatively but to them I just say, ‘Shut up.’ I’m allowed to be empowered anyway I want to be and if it’s through sexy dancing, then so be it.”

Cook agrees: “Society says women are supposed to be these sexual objects but then it’s frowned upon. It’s really an odd thing,” she says.

But regardless of its appearance, the dancers say they enjoy strutting their stuff each performance.

Cook’s baby is due on Valentine’s Day and will be named Ella. Cook says she hopes to be performing again by their show in March, and she hopes one day Ella will have confidence in herself too.

The Modern Pin-Ups will be debuting their Holiday Jingle Ball show on December 12, 2013 in Memorial Hall.

Filed in: Arts & Entertainment, Athens-Clarke County, Featured Stories, Health, News, Northeast Georgia, Top Stories Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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