Friday, August 24, 2007

The art of Burlesque

So this is my first non-Brick Lane based post on this blog - although I did warn everyone this blog would be about my store and London fashion as well as my life. And if you think about it Burlesque - while it is considered a bit "racy" is not just about dancing, or taking your clothes off, but also about the fabulous costumes as well. I have to admit something from the get go, I think I have always been interested in this type of dance - even before I knew what it was. As a child all I ever wanted to do was perform. Dance, Sing, dress up, act, if you ask my family they will tell you I was always performing. I took the words of the Bard , "all the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players" to heart at a very young age. I spent my entire childhood until college in plays and musicals, learning dance steps, singing in the chorus (I generally do not sing solo unless I feel the need to punish someone, never in front of an audience), and dressing up. I would raid my mothers closet and play with the beautiful clothes and her theatrical collection of masks, stoles, fans, feathers and such and then dance around the house to Saturday Night Fever. It WAS the 70's! The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, as my mothers greatest aspiration was to be a performer as well, so her closet was a wonderland of dramatic fashions to delight my desire to dress up and play different parts. To this day I am probably the only person I know with several storage boxes labeled "costumes". Halloween is my favorite holiday and dancing is one of my favorite activities - so it is interesting that it took me 30 some odd years to discover how it all merges together in Burlesque Dance and give it a try.

I have never been to Forty Deuce, the closest to a live performance I have ever seen was years ago at the premier party for Charlies Angels Full Throttle when the Pussy Cat Dolls did a dance and I was enthralled. Recently my friend Christy and her husband went to Forty Deuce and saw a performance that she could not stop talking about, so when I received an invitation to a Burlesque workshop here in Venice at the Electric Lodge she was the first person I thought of to join me. On our way there she was talking about the show and how incredible it was to see these women who were not all LA-ified skinny actress types but curvaceous, voluptuous and sexy. As she puts it they were so sexy they made you realize that you need to "learn to love your back fat". Well I still don't love my back fat, not many of us do, but I do fit more into the body type of voluptuous then skinny minny and always will so I figured this could be the class for me. When we walked in and were given long satin gloves, feather boas and fans to use as props I realized I was right! Dancing AND costumes! Bring it on!

The workshop was taught by two amazing dancers who met dancing at Forty Deuce; Jade and Dakota. I have to admit here that they both had killer dancers bodies to die for with no hint of back fat, but the rest of us were a refreshing cross-section of your average Venice girl. Jade and Dakota were so warm and welcoming that if you even had the slightest bit of nerves about coming into a burlesque class, they made us feel at ease right away. Of course they made every move look as simple as could be - because that's what professional dancers do - but they had a wonderful way of breaking it down for us. It is always a bit intimidating to try and new workout class - especially a dance one where you need to remember a routine you are being taught - but yet again they kept reminding us that we were free to create our own "style" of dance with the movements. In fact that is one of the beauties of Burlesque - all the dancers who are doing the same routine have their own individual styles and personalities which comes through in their dance. They encouraged us to relax and not worry about doing the steps perfectly and to find our own style and expression. There was a lot of laughter, feathers flying everywhere fans that got broken all in all so much fun you hardly realized what a workout you were getting. That is until the next morning when I remembered what your legs feel like after an evening of vigorous dancing in high heels no less! I don't know how those girls do it for an entire evening!

Currently the regular classes for Burlesque Body are not yet here on the Westside - but they are trying to build an interest in it, so if you log onto Burlesque Body you can find out when the next Venice workshop is and try it for yourself. I for one will sign up as soon as they have a regular class. It was fun, a great workout and without thinking about it I think all of us women had a bit more "strut" in our walk on our way home that evening. The most positive thing out of the whole evening was realizing it isn't the size of your curves that matter, its learning to love them and then learning to work them. Once you do that it is hard to NOT feel sexy and as we all know when you feel it that's when people really see it! Check out Burlesque Body and give it a shot. You have nothing to lose but negative body image and that's a win in my book!

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