Facing My Demons And Finding My Voice Through The Artform Of Burlesque

By Sapphira

They say when life gives you lemons make lemonade and my philosophy of finding the glittery silver lining to any cloud is the same…

My name is Sapphira, I am the Australian-born, London-based founder of the sparkling dance and production company, Sapphira’s Showgirls and most recently the author of my autobiography, Burlesque or Bust. I have found that if I find a colorful and creative way to respond to situations in my life that were difficult, it makes them easier to deal with and overcome.

In fact, I have discovered that tapping into my playful inner-child has been a savior in my life and it has been why I have been so passionate about sharing the artform of burlesque and my strategies for staying in a positive mindset with the world through dance classes and events. I also use poetry and songwriting to help me articulate things I would otherwise find difficult to express in any other way.

For those of you not familiar with the dance style of burlesque, I find the easiest way to describe it is as a comical or theatrical striptease with the emphasis on the ‘tease’ and not the ‘strip’. The reason it’s been such a powerful part of my recovery story is because I was raised in a strict separatist community of evangelists known as the ‘Brethren’. All my childhood involved long Sundays in an oppressive lifestyle where mainstream television and radio were banned for fear the content would corrupt the church followers.

The women in our church all wore head coverings and did not speak in the main meetings which was left to the men of the group. I felt like a total misfit in this environment because I was always a flamboyant theatrical child, but a lot of my dancing and sensuality was frowned upon by the church elders and I was confined to only learning ballet and playing classical piano. There were also strict rules around not having sex outside of wedlock and not having any romances with non-believers. Sex was taboo and I had no guidance or help from older girls when I began developing from a child into adolescence. During this confusing period of growing up, I had music and my piano to comfort me and I would write poems and lyrics prolifically as well as idol away hours at the piano making long ambling compositions that soothed my soul.

When I was tragically excommunicated from the church group due to my relationship with my first boyfriend, it broke my heart and then a little later, when redundancies were announced at my day job in media sales, I reached a crisis point of sheer panic which spiraled into a psychotic episode.

Thankfully I was allowed a CD player in my room at the psychiatric hospital and during the period of severe confusion and hysteria, I found solace listening to piano music. Slowly I recovered and was released back to my home. When I was well enough, I escaped to London and the power I felt when I discovered burlesque and began performing as my alter ego ‘Sapphira’ was profound. I was so hooked on the power I felt taking off my costume and the faces I could create with makeup, glitter and eyelashes that I wanted to share this with the world.

A few years later I quit my job and used the savings I had for a house to start Sapphira’s Showgirls. A gym in my hometown of Melbourne wanted to put my classes in 6 of it’s gyms, I thought it was too good a sign and I went for it. To date Sapphira’s Showgirls has taught 15,000 women in 3 countries, contracted over 100 dance teachers and performers and been supported by hundreds of volunteers. I am very proud of this achievement. Our school has also been supported by big companies like Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia and Benefit Cosmetics and I have even met famous personalities like Sir Richard Branson, Dita Von Teese, Dame Stephanie Shirley and Sir Charles Billich, a famous painter who is illustrating my poetry and lyrics.

Throughout my life, songwriting has been my way to vent all of my emotions. In fact, without songwriting, I would have been lost.
This week I celebrate releasing my Mindtalk EP which is combination of two songs that mean a lot about my mental health recovery, one is the title track Mindtalk itself and the other is called Facing My Demons.

Mindtalk is the word I use for the narrative in my head and it became a song when I undertook my first training with More To Life educational charity which teachers personal development life tools including the concept of Mindtalk.

Life to me is about confronting your fears and conquering them, it’s about facing your demons and realizing you are stronger than you ever thought possible.

You can listen to Facing My Demons by clicking here.

Sapphira is a heart-centered Australian burlesque author, entrepreneur, singer/songwriter and teacher who believes in positivity. Following her recovery from a severe mental illness twenty years ago she founded Sapphira’s Showgirls, an academy that empowers women through self-expression and supports several charities with her fundraiser #BurlesqueAPeel. Sapphira released her debut book ‘Burlesque or Bust’ (Trigger Publishing) in late 2018 and also her much-awaited EP ‘Mindtalk’, featuring her songs ‘Mindtalk’ and ‘Chasing My Demons’. Additionally, she is the founder of the Ibiza Burlesque Festival and offers sound healing sessions as a certified Soul Voice® practitioner. For more information visit www.sapphiramusic.com.

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