The fall season is now upon us, and along with the barrage of pumpkin-spice foodstuffs, one also tends to associate the back-from-holiday mindset with seeking to settle into some semblance of a routine. While Vancouver is well known for its active pursuits, as autumn begins to rob us of daylight hours, we still find unique ways in Vancouver to stay fit.
While many people enjoy yoga as an indoor form of exercise during these months, Vancouver has also been known to offer many alternative activities ranging from circus training to pole dancing. Suffice to say, when it comes to the unique and the varied for fitness, Vancouverites have lucked out. Among these offerings, I find the most unique to be the classes at the Vancouver Burlesque Centre (also known as the VBC).
Let me just say this: Vancouver is spoiled, really, when it comes to burlesque.
We have had a thriving neo-burlesque scene and community for well over 10 years, and we continue to grow. We were a famous stop on the performer circuit from the '30s to '60s for acts travelling up the West Coast from Los Angeles to Alaska. One of the best-preserved parts of Vancouver's heritage is cabaret, burlesque, and theatre, and it continues to be strong to this day.
With the growth of any art form, it's has developed a place to nurture new talent, open a door to people curious to try the art and learn something new, and allow a space for contemporary burlesque queens to rehearse and hone their craft.
I'll admit, as a seasoned performer, I've been a little gun-shy with taking burlesque classes.
The ones I had taken before were after I'd been performing for a number of years in the hopes of expanding my repertoire. The classes I attended were held at a dance studio downtown by a very good teacher, but she didn't seem to know much about my craft. The class was made up predominantly professional dancers of a much more advanced level than me.
Despite my best efforts to keep up, I found myself shuffled to the back, and obscured from being able to see what I was doing in the mirrors. I tried a few other straight-up dance classes at the same studio, but the result was always the same, and I grew bitter and frustrated. I'm sad to say that it put me off attending any sort of class or workshop for a number of years.
Recently, I've been away from the stage and exploring over mediums, and with the steady rise of performers doing burlesque in Vancouver, being grandfathered in doesn't assure you of work. In an effort to refine my game and keep improving in my own art, I swallowed my pride and signed up for Lola Frost's workshop on transitions and flow at the VCB.
The levels of student experience was varied from beginner to advanced, but everyone seemed to get something from Lola's instruction, which talked about theatrics, movement, and expression.
It gave the mind something to ponder and consider rather than just a straight-up dance class focusing soley on movement; it focused on the motivation behind the movement. It was the exact kind of class I had been craving. The best part was the feeling of inspiration for my craft again and the excitement to check out other classes.
The Vancouver Burlesque Centre offers drop-ins and progressives in categories such as choreography, basic beginner moves, advanced techniques, dance-based toning, and cardio. While there are two main "headmistresses" of the studio, they have recently added new instructors to the mix with new classes.
With finding the mind/body dance/art itch scratched, I feel like my autumn will have slightly more structure as I look forward to mastering my disrobing technique. My reading will consist of classic pillow books, and I'll continue to expand the vocabulary of my body language.
Because sometimes the best way to get into a new routine is practising a well-timed glove peel, followed by an artful hair-flip.
Little Miss Risk