The Blog

Who is she..?

I’m not your typical anything – mother, partner, colleague, friend, entrepreneur…

So, it’ll be no surprise to my work community that despite being a Workplace Culture Consultant – which most of you know me as, I’m also a Burlesque dancer, starting a Sex/Life company, have a dance school (The Sexy & Soulful Dance School), and am currently working on fusing my experience, journey and academics as a Workplace Culture Specialist, Sex/ Life Coach and Dancer, into writing a book.

Over the next few posts, I am going to share this personal journey with you from being diagnosed with Body Dysmorphia to baring it all on stage as a Burlesque performer, and from corporate HR Director to talking about sex for a living. And I’m pretty sure there will be some relevant workplace / leadership references in their somewhere.

Saddle up, it’s going to get spicy, heartfelt, progressive and painful…

Part 1…  Who is she?

Ophelia by Sir John Everest Millais (1851-52), Tate Modern, London.

This image is a painting of Ophelia. The work of Sir John Everest Millais (1851-52), which currently resides in the Tate Modern, London.

Millais took inspiration from the tragic telling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, where Ophelia’s fiancé (Hamlet), kills her father. Torn between the adoration she has for Hamlet, her loyalty to her father, and struck by such forsaken love and pain – she goes insane, and gets in the river to eventually fade away.

Last Monday ( 8th April 2024), I took to the stage in London, in a Burlesque show, where I made my debut Burlesque performance, as Ms. Ophelia Noir.

Whilst my 2 troupe dances and my solo performance have no link to Ophelia, I see from the choice of music I danced to in my solo, and how I danced to it, the way in which my performance might embody part of her story. A fight back from the wrongs that she suffered from ill- fated love, the betrayals she caused as well as those that were inflicted on her.

There was no insanity in my solo, in fact far from it. I played with the dynamics of control and surrender, the hard and soft. I was very much in control. But much like this famous painting of her, I was in flow, being in my natural state, as I moved my body the only way I know how. In this image and the story of Hamlet, Ophelia is letting the water take her, just as when I dance, I let the music take me.

Ophelia is Greek for ‘help”, “aid” or “advantage”, and closely derived from my own name, Sophie, despite the meaning of my name being “wisdom”. That close link in phonetic sounds, and this painting being my mum’s favourite (which I did not know at the time), gave a feel of “it’s meant to be!”.

Ophelia tries not to use her feminine nature, her “advantage”, to deceive her lover. But I was very much using my feminine in my dance – not for deception, although if you heard the song I performed to, you might think that’s partly what Taylor Swift is talking about in the track “…Ready for It?”.

Ophelia Noir, in her robe, getting ready to perform, backstage.

In adopting a stage name, I thought it was like a cloak you put on, a character that you play. Ophelia Noir is to me, what Sasha Fierce is to Beyonce. I meditated on who she is. This Ophelia Noir character that already exists within me, the deeper part of me that few people have experienced, including myself. I needed to explore “Ophelia” and already understood that the “Noir” reflected the depth and the darker side to me.

So… who is she?

Ophelia has big energy and soft edges. She is bold and does things her own way. She knows what she wants, gets it or asks for it. She only needs validation from herself and isn’t afraid to be vulnerable on a mass scale. She speaks her mind, with care, compassion and conviction. She is intelligent, witty, mesmerising and magnetic. When I met her on stage – she measured up to me. She became something for me to aspire to. I watch back the video’s of my performance and I look on I awe at who I became – for one night only… or was it?

Ophelia Noir performing in the House of Hart Burlesque Show, Theatro Technis, London, 2024.

You see the term “fake it until you make it” has never really sat with me. I don’t want to fake anything – fake is not something I can calibrate in my head, heart or body. An extension or deeper experience of who I wish to be in the world – yes, but fake it- no. There’s an inauthenticity in that for me. So, what is this then?

Ophelia Noir is an alter ego, a superheroine that emerges when the time is right. She’s not needed every day, only when I call upon her – I know I can access the inner resources it takes to create her and be her.

Going through the experience of developing her character, the most inner parts of who I really want to be, and finding the courage to let her out on stage is way more than I bargained for.

I thought I was just going to dance, to a track I love, that has meaning for me, and tell a story on the play between my dominating and submissive nature. A bit of fun, a bit of show-offy-ness, that sits so easily for me within my extraverted personality. I wanted to create shock and awe, I wanted my confidence and courage to be served up to the audience on a plate. Ultimately, I wanted to feel seen. That was all Sophie. And, Ophelia, well… she took it a level further.

I am so glad to have met her. To know another layer of what I am really made of, and when and where I can access her. It’s a like a new layer of completeness, a wholeness.

What’s your alter ego?

What’s that part of you that you know you have within in you, but you’ve not had the courage to unleash, yet?

With Love

Ophelia N. x

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