Burlesque dances

Dancer: Maria

Dance Location: Above the Barge and Barrel pub, Elland

This is a dance that... changed the way I looked at my body.

When I was around 42, my friend and I signed up for a Burlesque course completely on impulse. It wasn't until we turned up in this room with 12 other women, of all shapes and sizes, that the reality dawned on us that we'd have to take our clothes off.

It was interesting to see how we all changed over the seven weeks. We went from being timid and nervous to just completely believing we could do it. At 4'11 I'd always believed I had dumpy legs and a chest that was too big for my body. This was the first time I believed it when my husband said to me 'your boobs are beautiful'.

In the second to last session we learnt nipple tassels. All us women stood in a circle, facing each other, learning how to make the tassels twirl. I can go left, right and in both directions at the same time. I remember rushing home to my husband and saying: 'Look! Look what I can do!'.

In the last week we put a routine together. Mine was more funny than sexy. It was to Queen's I want to break free. I had the sweeper, a black wig, a moustache, and a pink wraparound top with the tassels underneath. I never performed it for an audience, other than my husband who was rolling around laughing. I didn't feel the need to, it had already served it's purpose, I was doing it for me.