At the heart, mind and soul of Sky Sirens is a desire to empower a diverse community of individuals in body-positivity and self-acceptance. How do the Sirens nail this? By creating an environment to celebrate the art of Burlesque, Pole Dance and Aerial Artistry; giving us permission for some safe, sexy fun and releasing the inner siren in one and all.
Opened in 2016 by Headmistress Katia Schwartz and starting with only three instructors - the studio has blossomed to a team of 15 who instruct and guide “virgins” through to experienced performers in courses that stream from the three arts to conditioning classes like “Bombshell Bootcamp” and “Sexy Flexy”.
Located through a red door on Crown Street in Surry Hills, the plush space is divided into areas for the different classes and hosts a tea room at the back for post session socialising.
We were so thrilled to have Katia star in our photo shoot and give the High Summer Good Day Girl collection a spin on her Lyra, we wanted to find out a little bit more about this young, courageous spirit who generously opened up her world to us.
You opened Sky Sirens at 25. That’s massive! When you look back to that opening night celebration - what did you feel (apart from exhaustion)?
I remember feeling absolutely inconsolable on the night of the launch party. I was terrified of nobody showing up and that I’d just be sitting there by myself with a whole lot of debt (and also cake) and no way out. The studio was unfinished, and I felt like everything had to be perfect before anyone saw it. As a creative person, people seeing unfinished work feels like nails on a chalkboard. I was so scared of people coming and thinking that I was a failure or if they didn’t like the studio. I was actually shaking up until Dahlia told me that there was a line all the way up the street to get in. We had a full house, and that made me nervous on a whole different level!
After I had realised that I wasn’t going to be alone eating all of the cake – I definitely felt a huge sense of accomplishment and pride. I worked so incredibly hard to try and make everything perfect and in the end it wasn’t completely the way I wanted it – but it was still good. As a dancer, I have always strived for perfectionism and would constantly beat myself up for not having the straightest lines, the most pointed toes and smoothest transitions. The biggest thing I’ve learnt since starting this journey has been that it’s okay not to be perfect and sometimes you just have to accept that the only person that really notices or cares is yourself!
Has Sky Sirens changed direction from what you originally thought it would be?
I have always been an advocate for the notion that all body types can be beautiful Aerialists, Pole & Burlesque dancers. A lot of my competitors’ marketing focuses on losing weight and the idea of somehow ‘changing’ their clients. This never sat well with me; so I wanted Sky Sirens to be a place where everyone embraces their bodies, believes that they ‘can’ and that nobody should feel they have to change.
This initial direction has really influenced every facet of the business as an ethical space. From our diversity marketing campaigns, to gender-neutral language in the syllabus and accessible teaching methods – Sky Sirens is a confidence building, Intersectional Feminist safe space. We are inclusive of the LGBTQIA+ community, Sex & Adult Industry workers, people of colour, people living with invisible and/or visible medical conditions and those in other minority groups. We are forever evolving and working on making the space as safe and comfortable as possible.
We get a big rush out of seeing our clients happy in a new look - have you had a stand out time when you could see happiness coming out of the client after learning a new move/skill?
Every day, I get to watch people grow in confidence, achieve things they never thought possible and watch friendships blossom. The joy that I feel when a student achieves something for the first time is absolutely the best part of my job. It’s never really about the move itself - it’s about the student realising that they can do it, that they didn’t have to change themselves and that they are amazing just the way they are.
I was filming an interview with one of my students, Sophia the other day as part of our latest diversity campaign. We were doing a segment on chronic pain, invisible/visible illness and medical conditions and their effect on one’s body image and self confidence. Sophia has a lymphatic disorder called Lipedema which causes a fatty tissue build up around the legs and ankles. It means that while the rest of her body can lose and gain weight regularly, the areas affected by Lipedema will always stay the same. The only way of reducing the symptoms is surgery. After being bullied for having the disorder throughout her life, this severely affected her confidence and self worth. After doing classes at the studio for over a year, she told us that she had finally accepted her body and appreciated it for how amazing and beautiful it is. She was cleared for the surgery recently, and revealed that she chose not to go through with it as a result of the confidence she has gained from her classes. It was so emotional, and everyone who was there cried with her. I think moments like this give me more than just joy for what I do – it actually brings me life.
Lyra looks effortless and graceful - yet when we watched you, we could see the work and pressure it puts on your body (and the bruises!) - how do you come down from a hard session - bath, stretch?
Lyra is definitely hard on your body when you train as much as I do! You definitely build up tolerance to bruises, burns and abrasions as you progress (it does get better!), but there are a few things you can do in the meantime. Arnica cream is the absolute best for bruises – it’ll make them fade faster. Epsom salt baths and magnesium supplements are also great for muscle repair and energy. I also make sure that my general health and nutrition is looked after (I don’t drink alcohol!).
Best exercise to start the prep work to get up on the Lyra? Are we talking core or biceps?
The best way to build strength for Lyra – is Lyra. Even if you go to the gym regularly, you still won’t be 100% ready for Lyra. Nobody is ever ready when they first start, which is why our classes start with assuming people have no strength, flexibility or coordination whatsoever. The lessons build up these skills gradually, so that it doesn’t feel like you’ve been thrown into the deep end.
Favourite outfit you’ve ever performed in? How did it make you feel?
This is such a difficult question! I genuinely love all of my costumes, as I really feel that how you appear on stage affects so many aspects of the performance. Feeling confident in an outfit can really make or break your show. All of my outfits are made well, which is incredibly important because wardrobe malfunctions aren’t ideal in any situation – let alone on stage in front of hundreds of people! A good costume should make you feel expensive, beautiful and be cohesive to your performance and personal style.
If you could teach Lyra to anyone (alive or past), who would it be?
You’ve definitely left the most difficult question for last! I’m not huge on celebrities or public figures – so I can’t really say I have any desire to teach anybody famous specifically. I think the students I love teaching the most, are the ones that maybe aren’t ‘naturals’ but are so incredibly willing to learn. I love hard workers, and I love seeing students try their best and get better with time.
First Floor, 658A Crown Street, Surry Hills, NSW
T: 0414 087 806 firstname.lastname@example.org