As the weather warms, Melbournians dream of seeing family and friends soon (I'm crossing everything I possibly can cross)! Performers start to set goals again for the year 2021 and online shows seem to be slowing in preparation for getting back to live stages and theatres again. As we can't meet up in person just yet, I chatted with the ever so lovely Petra Fire about all things performance! From her journey so far to studies in dance movement therapy, coping with covid restrictions and more! Links to Petra's socials and classes are at the end of the interview - enjoy!
1. Everyone's journey to becoming a performer is different, what's your story? When did you start performing burlesque?
I began my journey in 2016 at Maison Burlesque doing group performances, I was hooked and it was refreshing to see all ages, body types, sharing a stage together and having fun! Burlesque had such a huge influence on me that the confidence I acquired- inspired me to audition for a full time dance school. In the audition, since I did not have much of a ‘standard dance background anymore’ I arrived in a glittery halter top, 3/4 pants, and a matching scrunchie with my hair out, while everyone was in leotards and mostly had their hair in a bun. How’s that for symbolism.
Anyway, when I began I had no plans to become a solo performer but all of the support and inspiration I had from my burlesque journey mixed with the knowledge I gained in full time dance training inspired me to take the leap and debut in late 2018 and here we are!
2. You have such great energy when you are on stage, what styles of performance do you do? Which one is your favourite to perform?
Awww thank you! I have performed in many styles such as belly dancing, hip hop, jazz and tap. I don’t have a favourite, each style brings new challenges and strengths for me!
3. Artists are inspired by many things, what inspires you to create something new?
Music is what really drives me to create something new. I also need to have a personal connection to the music choice- eg- just absolutely loving a song or connecting to lyrics! I believe that’s important. I want to bring the song to life through my performance.
Other than that, I am a full time sponge. I am inspired by the classes I go too, teachers I learn from, films, reading up on the history of burlesque and life experiences.
Hot tip: Never stop learning because you’ll always be inspired! xoxo sponge girl
4. You began your Masters in Dance Movement Therapy earlier this year, what motivated you into this field? What do you hope to accomplish once you graduate?
From a young age I’ve always believed in the power and joy of dance, I’ve always believed that it is therapeutic, it is where I feel comfortable and where I feel at home. I am aware not everyone feels the same way, but I’m committed to helping and supporting others discover their own connection to movement, and see them flourish!
In terms of accomplishment, I am really inspired by what one of my DMT teachers said- we are all dancers, it’s just some people haven’t been given the permission or space too. That is what I hope to accomplish- giving the people I will work with whoever they may be, the permission and opportunity to express themselves through movement and dance.
5. You have a fair bit on your plate, how do you balance work, creativity, study and life? Do you have any tips for fellow performers who are juggling a lot?
YES good question! Due to the heavy amount of Zooms I’m in, I have created a have a self-care list where I write down all the off- screen things I enjoy. I aim to do at least one those a day- such as going for a walk, drinking a hot Milo, journalling, having a dance. Wild tasks as you can see.
To performers who are juggling a lot, acknowledge that and then take some time to check in with yourself and listen to your body, it knows what’s up.
6. Great advice! You post some fabulous energetic and good vibes videos on your socials, which always make me smile! Do you have a social media strategy or just post how you feel?
That’s so sweet, thank you! No I don’t have a social media strategy, I posted these videos to get over my fear of recording, believe it or not I despised recording myself- but I knew that this was something I had to overcome especially if I was going to debut as a solo burlesque performer. This advice I’d give to any performer- recording yourself is your best friend (you don’t have to post if you don’t feel comfortable) but it really is a great tool to see what you want to improve or what you LIKE!
7. I think that's fab advice, I'm a fan of recording myself for improvement too. Restrictions have been really tough in Victoria due to the pandemic. What did you find most difficult about being a performer in isolation as a result of COVID19? How do you think the entertainment industry will change moving forward?
Yes totally! Well not having an environment such as a stage or venue is not ideal. I do miss that electrifying feeling of adrenaline after you’ve performed, and the connection aspect. Connecting with the audience on stage, connecting with your fellow performers before the show begins, and being able to watch the show and support your fellow performers!
I’ve taken it as an opportunity though to reflect (I am big on reflecting) and to dive back into other dance forms- such as belly dancing which I am really enjoying!
Look I am a little optimistic, but I’m hoping that people would support the arts by attending shows once they are able to resume! We may not need the arts to survive, but it really is such a special part of humanity- the ability to express, share and create worlds outside the ‘everyday’.
8. I think a lot of people would agree with you there! Are you working on anything new whilst in isolation/iso-projects?
I have launched my Aussie Pop Icons burlesque inspired dance class every Wednesday via Zoom where we groove and grind to the hits of Bardot, Vanessa Amorosi and dance it out to a classic Aussie early pop tune. It’s the slice of nostalgia you didn’t know you needed, until now! It’s nothing too complicated and for all levels.
I am learning to fan again, which I am excited about because it is not something that comes easily for me, In the grip change class, I think I dropped my fans about 40 times.
9. What has been a highlight of your career so far?
I am lucky to be given opportunities to perform! That is the highlight, having this creative platform- the agency to create what I want is truly something I will always be grateful for!
10. What are your future plans/goals as a performer?
Look maybe some new promo photos.