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Monday, January 12, 2009

Kitty’s Dolls Burlesque Dancers Risque it all

Stripping down to the bare essentials during the credit crunch is second nature to this pair.

Katerina Stojanovic and Hazel Robinson started peeling off the layers as burlesque dancers to pay off their student loans – so they found it easy to adapt their new show to reflect the downturn as the rest of the nation suffers from a shortage of cash.

The cheeky performers, who believe it or not say they were the shy girls at school, have been revealing almost everything in front of fans for more than a year after running up debts at university.

So the now professional dancers, aka Kitty Kane and Lily Bow Peep, were just as resourceful when the recession found its latest victim in their act.

Katerina, 23, and Hazel, 24, form half of Kitty’s Dolls – a burlesque troupe currently teasing the Welsh population with their suggestive dance routines as part of a 19th-century tradition made popular again by American performer Dita Von Teese.

Treforest corseteer Katerina makes most of their outfits, but the girls say with rising costs they have recently been feeling the pinch.

“It’s an expensive career,” said Kitty, a fashion graduate who discovered burlesque after she began designing and making her own corsets for other performers.

Lily Bow Peep“We travel all over the UK and the outfits can cost a lot, so I make them where I can and we pick up pieces around our homes to work into the act.”

Kitty’s latest favourite act involves her peeling off a boiler suit to wash a car tyre in a bikini.

And Hazel, a box office attendant of Pontcanna, Cardiff, has even found a way to make the credit crunch sexy by making light of it with her newest routine.

“I’ve got a credit crunch act, I call it the Bare Necessities,” she said.

“I heard the song on the radio and listened to the lyrics for the first time and realised they were so relevant at the moment.

“I’m in a bit of debt so it’s a case of life imitating art!

“I play a damsel in distress who’s inundated with bills and ends up selling her kisses – it’s a complete DIY job, I made all the props.”

Kitty’s Dolls, who practise both classical and neo-burlesque, blend comedy and vaudeville with flesh-baring sketches – but retain their modesty with an array of props from glittering tassels to huge 1920s fans made of red feathers.

“We’ve had some people shout out rude things when we’ve done old men’s pubs,” said Kitty.

“A lot of them don’t understand it and want us to take all of our clothes off, but we’re not strippers – burlesque is all about the tease.”

With the passion for all things burlesque growing, Kitty is now looking to expand on her troupe, which is completed by her sister Militsa, aka Mitzy Bear, and Molly Dainton’s Lily Bell.

With her classic features, porcelain complexion and poster- girl red pout, Kitty certainly looks the part, but the redhead claims anyone can do it.

“At school I was so shy, and I was never a performer.

“Then, after supplying corsets for all these dancers, I decided I wanted to have a go myself.”

Blonde drama graduate Hazel, who met Kitty in a nightclub when they bonded over their shared tattoo and passion for learning trapeze, agrees: “I used to be really self-conscious, but when I’m on stage I become someone new.

“I think of myself as Lily Bow Peep and she’s a very different person.

“You don’t have to have a stick thin figure, be tanned and beautiful – burlesque is about being buxom and we have fun with it. It’s not about what size or shape you are – burlesque dancers are good role models for women.

“Anything goes and we love the comedy side of it, so you have to have a good sense of humour.”

Kitty added: “Shops like Ann Summers have made it more acceptable for women to be seen in their underwear.

“I have so much fun, it’s like going out and dancing with your friends but you’re doing it on stage in front of all those people – it’s the best feeling.”

Hazel admits learning burlesque has benefits off-stage. “Burlesque celebrates the female form – so it helps when it comes to your love-life too.”

“Performance is really important when the economy’s gloomy. People need cheering up.”

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