Show & Tell: Jen Mateo of 'X Burlesque'


Q: "X Burlesque" is your first show?

A: Yes. I started a couple of months ago. I mean, I did recitals growing up, but, a full production show, it's my first one.

Q: How long have you been dancing?

A: Since I was 3. My mom put me in ballet, and I hated ballet for a while. Then I got into all the other kinds of styles of dancing. When I was, maybe, 13, I got into hula and Tahitian dancing, and I did that for a few years.

Q: There's one you don't usually find on a dancer's resume.

A: It was in our family. Everybody - my mom, my grandma, everybody in my family - started to do that.

Q: You also were an NFL cheerleader?

A: When I was 19 I tried out for the Oakland Raiders and I made the dance team. I was the youngest on the squad. So I cheered for them for a year and went to cosmetology school, and I had to stop dancing. It wasn't working, with just the time.

Q: You got your license?

A: Yes. I moved to L.A. right after I got my license in cosmetology. So I did that for maybe a year and a half, but I was never completely satisfied doing hair because I knew my No. 1 passion was dancing. Then I got into an accident and fractured my pelvis.

Q: What happened?

A: Somebody ran a red light while I was making a left turn and T-boned my driver's door. Actually, they said I was pretty lucky just to come out with a fractured bone.

Q: A fractured pelvis can't be good for a dancer.

A: It definitely triggered in my mind, "I'll never be able to dance like I used to, or ever again." When I went through my therapy sessions and meetings with doctors after the accident, that was always my question: Will I be able to dance again?

Q: And?

A: I definitely noticed the difference from how I used to dance. How I dance now, I'm not as agile in my left side. ... So I'm still trying to build up that strength, but it's going well.

Q: "X Burlesque" is a pretty sexy show. Was that an adjustment for you?

A: Yeah, it's way different. But it's like I found my inner sexiness, and I enjoy that a lot, actually (laughs).

Q: You should talk to the producers about adding a hula number.

A: (Laughs) We have a belly dancing routine. It's kind of the same thing.