Old Hollywood pinups as we know and cherish them have left their mark in immeasurable ways. They gave soldiers something to dream about and women someone to look up to. Over the years, many women have tried to recreate what these women stood for, though few do it as effortlessly as Pastel Supernova. Known solely by her stage name, Pastel has garnered quite a following in Toronto for being a “real life pinup girl” and leading burlesque and cabaret act. As artistic director and choreographer of the Toronto-based dance theatre, Love Letters Cabaret, she and her team of talented and committed dancers have come to symbolize the power of femininity, sexuality, and seduction and the celebration of being a woman.
Love Letters is best known for encouraging the audience to free themselves from their inhibitions – helping women find their inner goddess and men their inner god, through interaction and participation in the show. The act isn’t what you’d expect from burlesque theatre, since it incorporates elements of contemporary dance to help tell the narrative.
Since founding Love Letters in 2012, Pastel’s contribution to Toronto has stretched beyond burlesque and cabaret. She uses her unique experience in finishing school ethics to teach classes on building confidence and poise. “The classes began as kind of a How to Wear High Heels tutorial because dancers saw me perform in heels and asked if I could help them with stiffness and mobility,” says Pastel. “The more I started teaching, the more I realized that it wasn’t the high heel that was difficult….It was being looked at, which is really just a confidence issue. That’s when I knew I could use the lessons my mother taught me to help women gain confidence in a fun way.”
Pastel began her professional career in Toronto by dancing and choreographing with Dave Wilson’s The Parahumans. She credits her time in Wilson’s group for giving her the character development and improvisation skills which have helped make Love Letters a success. According to Pastel, her transition from classically trained dance to burlesque was a seemingly natural progression. “It was a misunderstanding actually,” giggles Pastel. “Because I dress pinup and dance, people just assumed that I did burlesque. People started asking me to dance in different burlesque shows, so eventually I said yes. I was working with a group of amazing dancers at the time (some of whom are still with me today) so Love Letters just kind of evolved. I didn’t really think about it too much. I guess it was just destined to happen.”
When asked about the future of Love Letters, Pastel said that she hopes to find a home for the cabaret in a Toronto theatre, with dreams of promoting it as a Toronto tourist attraction. “Just as Moulin Rouge and Crazy Horse have made a staple for themselves, I hope to have a company where we can do shows on a regular basis, teach classes, and have a touring company.”
WORDS: KERTNEY LYNN RUSSELL
PHOTOS: SASS FRASER