She's Magic, That One
In the countdown to our second event, the Shake It Off Summer Party, I wanted to introduce you to our fantastic line-up. Starting with... Louise Andrée Douglas!
We were lucky enough to welcome Louise at our last event, Run The World, where she taught us to diva like Beyoncé. Now she'll be back for Shake It Off, not only to teach a Taylor Swift-inspired dance workshop, but also to give us an insight into the world of female magicians that she has experienced being part of magical troupe Chicks N Tricks, and wow us with her wizardry!
Let's learn a little more about Tiny Dancer Lou...
Can you tell us a little about your background, and what led you to be the professional magician, dancer, choreographer, actor, presenter and lilac-haired lovely lady that you are?
I was born in Fife, Scotland the youngest of four girls and ever since I can remember, my sisters and I would reenact the scenes from our favourite films, The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins and The Wizard of Oz! We started highland dancing, but as an over enthusiastic 3 year old I was like a bull in a china shop (there’s home video evidence to prove it!) . My sisters were soon old enough to go to ballet but I was too young and I used to cry as they drive off to class and I was left at home, Fun House on TV being my consolation prize! As soon as I was old enough I started ballet classes and from there I started to take part in shows & pantomimes and joined a local youth theatre. I then started Jazz and tap classes.
At school, my best friends and I used to put on little shows - we’d cast the whole thing, rehearse during break times and we even used to make the set and borrow proper costumes from my dance school! From then on I knew I wanted to be a performer.
I took an acting course at college and it was only when I started to get more and more professional dance jobs after graduating that I realised maybe I should have trained professionally to be a dancer instead! And so that is what I did! At 23 and the oldest by far in my college, I decided to train properly as a dancer and did a Advanced Graduate certificate in Dance and Musical Theatre performance. I then sort of fell into magic and was offered an opportunity to join an all-female magic group in 2012 and have been performing magic as well as dancing ever since.
You’ve performed magic and dance in so many weird and wonderful places. What have been some of the highlights of your career so far?
I’ve been so lucky to travel the world with some of my best friends - and get paid for it! Although of course there’s a lot of hard work, living out of a suitcase and jet lag between the glamorous looking Instagram posts! I’ve travelled to the Maldives which was probably the most idyllic place I’ve worked, as well as Trinidad, India (for a day!) Singapore, Dubai, even Beirut but I think dance wise... dancing at Ultra Music Festival in Seoul, South Korea was definitely a highlight! Also performing magic at the Edinburgh Playhouse was a bucket list tick for me as it’s where I used to go as a child to watch shows and I always dreamed of one day being on that stage!
You and I first met over a year ago when I took three of your fantastic dance workshops in one day, at City Academy. You were welcoming and full of sparkle and positivity, which made each person feel at ease and sunshine-happy. What about teaching dance feels the most rewarding?
Ah, I LOVED having you in class! I just love helping people to gain the confidence to enjoy dancing as much as I do. Of course it always helps when the people in the class are happy positive sparkly people like yourself too! I love seeing the - almost instant - improvements people make in class and also just love that people want to join me in dancing along to some fabulous music!
Your magic troupe, Chicks N Tricks, is the world's only super group of female magicians. What do the group of you bring to the Magic Circle, and is it tough to be a female in this business?
Love this shot from the fab event we've been working on as #mutantmagicians this week! Had a 'ball' #nopunintended #femalemagician #telekinesis #legion #magic #superpower #pingpong 🏓 #marvel . Thanks so much @scarlett_entertainment for booking us. 👍🏼 @foxtvuk @prettygreenthings @legion_fx @chicksntricks #femalemagician #magician
How long have we got?? No, just kidding! It can be tough being a female in the magic business - simply because there are a lot fewer of us women doing it than men, so it’s less expected - you do a lot of explaining that yes, you’re a ‘real’ magician, no, you’re not ‘just’ the assistant and it can often feel like you have to prove you’re good enough and not just a gimmick. There are more and more young girls now getting into magic though which is great - Issy Simpson for example is absolutely smashing it having been on Britain’s got Talent, Little Big Shots and even the Ellen show. So the future is looking promising for women in magic!
The Magic Circle is such a cool and quirky place - and each time I go, I do bump into more and more fantastic female members - so we are out there! - as well as awesome male magicians, many of whom are close friends. I think Chicks n Tricks bring something different to the table, being a group as we challenge the stereotypes of the traditional magician and assistant roles because we take on both roles equally between us.
We recently took part in an International Women’s Day show at the Magic Circle, alongside some of our fellow female members, which was amazing - one of our Chicks, Amy was actually 7 months pregnant at the time, which was probably a first at the magic circle and definitely something different!
What would be your advice to someone looking to build their own brand or business?
I believe that attitude and work ethic is everything. I genuinely believe you need to be a person first then a businesswoman / performer/ lawyer / author / boss babe / *insert career choice here* (lol) second. Just being a nice person and turning up on time, replying to people when you can and building up a good reputation is half of the battle! Add to that a talent in your chosen field and you’re well on your way.
I would also say, don’t be scared to take chances and push yourself out of your comfort zone. And don’t necessarily put all your eggs in one basket - are your skills transferable to open up your work opportunities?
Use social media to your advantage - you don’t need to have millions of followers or amazing insta stories, but using social media to keep in touch with people you’ve met or worked with and genuinely communicating with people, networking and taking a genuine interest in what other people are up to just means you’ll build a bigger network of people who share common interests. Most of my work now is generated from people reaching out on Facebook or through Twitter.
Lastly, you have to love it - if you’re going to put all of your time and energy into it and sacrifice nights out, family gatherings or even move to a new area for your career path - you have to enjoy what you’re doing! If you don’t - then it’s never too late to change direction!
Which strong women of the world inspire or motivate you?
It sounds very cheesy but my Mum, sisters and aunties. I feel so lucky to have been raised in a family that values strong women
As equal - Well it would be hard not to as my dad was outnumbered 5-1! Both of my Grandmas were really inspiring strong women too and really ahead of their time in terms of their mindsets, they both quashed the typical stereotypes of the role of a woman, despite the era they were born. I actually also never saw my gran in a pair of flat shoes in all her 80 years now if that’s not a strong woman?! :P
You’ve recently started teaching at Evoke, a new fitness studio in London. What could someone expect from one of your classes?
Evoke is such an amazing place to teach - the founders Claire (who also works on gender equality based research in her other life!) and Alex are lovely and really wanted to create an accessible community where people feel comfortable yet motivated. The studio itself is gorgeous and homely and the classes are fab, from boxing to HIIT, both ancient and modern Yoga styles as well as Barre and of course dancing! My classes are the fun, music video style dance classes where you can lose your inhibitions for an hour and pretend you’re on MTV or dancing for Beyoncé at Coachella!
What are you most looking forward to about Summer 2018?
The Strong Women Squad Summer Party, obvs!
Also, the weather! I’m a real sun baby and love the light nights, going for runs around the Olympic Park and sitting in the park people watching!!
I am quite busy with work over the summer but hoping to have a nice holiday with my fiancé who finally graduates from drama school in the summer - so looking forward to having a bit of time with him and hopefully looking at a few wedding venues! Eeeek!