I did something fun and out of character and way out of my comfort zone this past weekend. I attended a burlesque workshop at my favourite London clothing store, Renegade.
Why? Partly a challenge from a friend and partly I thought it might make a fun blog post. It’s amazing what we’ll do for blog fodder. Oh, and to be honest, I was curious.
So what did we do? Practically, we learned how to take off gloves sexily and do fun things with boas. Life skills I’m not sure I’ll ever need but it was fun to play.
The context and the theory of burlesque was more interesting to this academic. We heard all about burlesque archetypes like the vamp and the coquette. We also learned about humour and burlesque. If you’re going to trip while taking off your clothes, have fun with it. Be deliberate. Own the trip and stumble. I loved learning about nerd burlesque, combining my interest in Star Wars and Lord of the Rings with taking off clothes on stage. See Nerd Girl Burlesque, for example. Fun.
We also talked lots of body positivity and owning the things that make you feel good.
What’s the fitness connection? There’s not one really. But there is a body image connection and body image and fitness are closely tied.
Body image is connected to fitness in a bunch of interesting ways. It’s both the motivation for lots of women to pursue physical activity. I’ll solve my body image issues by improving my body! Body image anxiety is also the reason lots of women don’t exercise. I can’t go to the gym. I’m too fat!
I think the best route to health and fitness is loving the body you’ve got. Love is a much better motivator than hate. Loving your body doesn’t mean thinking it’s perfect or better than all the others. Loving other people sure doesn’t mean that. And if feeling sexy helps with that, and it seems like it would, and your kind of sexy includes bumping, grinding, twirling and teasing, then give burlesque a try.
(There are classes and workshops with a more direct fitness connection. See Burlesque fitness: learn to tease as you get toned in the Toronto Star: “Burlesque has been titillating audiences since the 17th century, but more recently the dance has been heating up the fitness scene. Think of burlesque dancers as a blend of strippers and showgirls. It’s a strip tease (emphasis on the tease — it’s not about what you take off, but what you leave on) with a big focus on outlandish performances on stage. It’s also an effective workout. The repetitive moves are great for the core and legs, while the dance portion offers up a solid way to get the heart pumping.”)
Oh, and our instructor Belle Jumelle was terrific. Belle is a queer femme from small town Ontario now residing in Toronto after a summer in Yellowknife. She’s a lot of fun. I’d had a few tough weeks and she made me smile. Rumour has it she’s coming back to London and even though burlesque remains something I’d rather watch than do, I’d go again for the fun. I was too shy this time to do anything in front of the class. But next time. Maybe.
Event description: With over 8 years of performance experience under her belt, Toronto based Burlesque Performer Belle Jumelles is a confident woman who has perfected the art of the tease, she has mastered the bump and grind, and wants to share her secrets with you. You have two opportunities to join her at this Renegade edition of Burlesque 101, taking place in the comfort of your favourite retail establishment. This workshop is eye opening, confidence boosting and full of fun! She will cover burlesque history, character types, glove peels, boa teases, moves and shakes that will leave you wanting to shimmy all the way home.
People from all backgrounds are encouraged to attend. Whether this is your first time thinking about burlesque, you have been looking for some inspiration to get you going, or you’d just like to feel awesome in your skin, this course will be informative and insightful. Belle Jumelles believes that all people and body types are beautiful and will help students feel empowered with the confidence to perform, whether onstage or at home. There will be no requirement for nudity in these classes, only confidence boosting moves.
Please come dressed in anything that makes you feel sexy and comfortable. Belle will be providing boas and gloves to borrow in class. But, if you have anything you would like to play with or learn how to use as a prop or costume piece, feel free to bring it with you.