Meet Burlesque Co-Director Avril Dominguez!

Name: Avril Dominguez (stage name Va Va Violet) 

Age: 21

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Major: Theatre/ Gender and Sexuality Studies

Role on Burlesque: Co-Director

Why did you first join Burlesque? 

I was first interested in Burlesque as a form in high school. I found out one of my costume teachers was a Burlesque dancer and I tracked her down on YouTube and discovered all the different kinds of burlesque and how much freedom the form has. When I found out that Northwestern had a show, I could not wait to do it, and I didn’t even question if I would have a friend to do it with me or not. I just knew I would love it. 

Has your reason for doing it changed over the past 4 years? 

Of course! Freshman year was more about actually seeing myself as sexy, enjoying the performance and making people laugh or cheer. It also got me through my first winter quarter in a theater program that is saturated with rejection. It felt important to have a place where everyone cheers and you get to choreograph your own piece and have that autonomy. Junior year, I became a director and saw a whole different side to the show. It’s hard keeping so many people in the loop and It was a challenge but it is so rewarding. Every year, however, the show reminds me to be kind to my body. I, like so many others, often feel guilty taking up space but burlesque reminds me that it is okay. It is a community experience for performers and audience members. Many audience members tell me the show is just as empowering to watch even if they don’t feel like they could do it themselves. That feels good.

What is your favorite part of the show?

Closing night. The audience’s energy is insane and the cast gets very close. Also, I love seeing people who were scared to take off a sock at the start of the rehearsal process decide they are going down to pasties or no underwear and being excited to take that leap. The use of black electrical tape to make last minute pasties for the last show is a frequent occurrence and it is fun to celebrate that type of liberation with people. It feels like how I felt my first time performing and I want everyone to have that feeling. It feels like skydiving.

How has Burlesque changed the way you see yourself? 

I had a lot of body shame growing up. I had Leukemia when I was five and to have the control over your body ripped away at that age is horrible. I grew up feeling like my body was wrong in so many ways and not even considering that I deserve to feel sexy or feel comfortable being naked. Burlesque is part of my process with moving on from disordered eating as well as dealing with depression. If I haven’t moved from my bed all weekend and I drag myself to rehearsal, the energy of the room gives me something to work with and I know I have support. When it comes to the shows, I never feel too big/fat or not sexy on stage. The fact that I can take off all my clothes in front of strangers and walk off stage thinking “wow that was fun” instead of “was that angle bad?” or “did I have stomach rolls?” makes burlesque an amazing outlet and exercise in self-love. I never feel sexier than the show week.

Can you give us a hint about your solo this year?

The solo is a song my roommates and I loved sophomore year, and it kind of became our song to scream at the top of our lungs when it would come on. They are my best fans on stage and have been every year, so I am dedicating this piece to them but I haven’t told them anything about it yet… I can say, however, that there will be glitter and tassels.

What's one thing no one knows about you?

Yikes, this is hard because I am a fairly open book.  I love journaling. I usually hate trendy “life hack” organizational solutions because I think they add more stress and create this image of perfection at all moments, so I usually pass them up. Journaling, however, allows me to be artistic and enjoy planning out my day. I splurged on a bunch of colorful pens and either work on my schedule or just write my thoughts when I need to take a moment to myself. Being a student, working part-time and directing NU Burlesque means I need to stay focused but also I need a place to get messy or experiment. My journal is so important for that. Is that lame?