Burlesque is something I have toyed with and indulged in on and off for the past three years, so you can imagine my excitement when the brand spanking new Berlin Burlesque Academy and its world famous owner, Marlene Von Steenvag invited me to take part in the Secrets of Burlesque course and review it for the indieBerlin readers.
What to wear? What to expect? I couldn’t wait to find out. The day finally arrived and after a mad dash from work up to Eberswalder I found myself outside the glamourous school, ladies of all ages and nationalities gathering, as we awaited the end of the previous class. Marlene was on hand to greet and welcome everyone in her finest dance mistress wear, complete with baby bump. I have honestly never seen someone make pregnancy look so elegant.
The highest pair of Louboutins I have ever seen
The academy is an intimate space with walls of mirrors allowing you to really perfect your art as you can catch every angle of your body, sometimes for the better, a lot of the time for the worst. One of Marlene’s exquisite costumes dressed the window perfectly, with its crystals and marabou feathers and her display of gold glitter dance shoes leading right up to the highest pair of Louboutins I have ever seen, really set the glamour for the upcoming class.
If you can imagine 10 Bambis on ice, you’ve pretty much got a good idea at our first attempt.
All the girls filed in and got into their dance gear and heels and returned to the dance space. We were greeted by the lovely and engaging Arden Delacour, who was to be our teacher for the course. It was made clear the class would teach us the basic of burlesque while allowing us to develop our own personal personas and style. The class began by teaching us to walk, if you can imagine 10 Bambis on ice, you’ve pretty much got a good idea at our first attempt. Showgirl walking is a challenge, especially in heels, with a few months out of practice with high shoes. Nonetheless we laughed and persevered.
Next came feather boas, I immediately grabbed a pink one
Arden was a great teacher offering constructive criticism, personalised feedback and encouragement to all. The pace of the class was also brilliant, sometimes when you have a mix of background experience classes can sometimes feel disjointed, this however did not.
We covered poses, which made me use muscles I haven’t used in a while meaning the day after was a little stiff. Next came feather boas, I immediately grabbed a pink, because you know what they say “pink to make the boys wink” and we learnt how to move with the boa, how to tease our audience and conceal “what momma gave ya”.
The dance floor studio by the end looked like Big Bird had exploded
…but we all had fun. Working in smaller groups to devise dances and watching each other to provide feedback. It was great to see the women really throwing themselves into it and assuming their diva roles, I did on more than one occasion have to resist the urge to shout “Yaaaas Qweeen!”
A champagne break was in order after working up a sweat
A champagne break was in order after working up a sweat on the humid Thursday evening and snacks of cheeses and profiteroles were brought out and much enjoyed by the whole class. But there was no rest for the wicked and we returned back onto the dancefloor to work with gloves.
We learnt many techniques including how to remove gloves with our teeth, heels and even our thighs. Saucy. Overall, it was the perfect first class, everyone felt included and we learnt enough to keep everyone engaged, but moved along at a pace that allowed development from everyone.
I cannot wait for next week’s lesson and just to get you excited to read next week’s entry, I have one word for you, STOCKINGS!
Chloe Gale was invited to check out a burlesque course from Berlin Burlesque Academy for indieBerlin.
Photos used by kind permission from Glowbus – check their site out, they’re cool!
Noel Maurice is one of the founders of indieberlin. Originally from the UK via a childhood in Johannesburg, he has been resident in Berlin since 1991. Describing himself as a ‘recovering musician’, he is the author of The Berlin Diaires, a trilogy detailing the East Berlin art and squat scene of the early 90s, available on Amazon and through this site.