Fun Processes: An Introduction to the Dance du Jour Burlesque Workshop

Gareth K Vile talks cabaret with Gypsy Charms and Viva Misadventure

Feature by Gareth K Vile | 13 Aug 2009

Viva Misadventure and Gypsy Charms have been prime movers in the revival of burlesque in Scotland. With regular classes in both Glasgow and Edinburgh, they bring years of professional experience and an intellectual rigour to both teaching and performing: their Dance Du Jour on Friday (14th) offers an introduction to an often misunderstood performance ar

Burlesque is more than 'fancy stripping', as media commentators and career irritants Ant and Dec recently announced on Britain's Got Talent.

"It is a different technique from dance," Gypsy points out. "It's about manipulating and working the audience, telling a story. Even when I am teaching a hen party, I always say - what do you want to bring across, and how do you express it?"

Having first met as children in ballet class, Viva and Gypsy complement each other in their teaching. Gypsy brings an academic precision, Viva her years as an international showgirl. They are sharp-witted, funny and have an attention to detail that comes across in both performance and class-room. As members of the core cast of High Tease, they are working every night from 12 August at the Voodoo Rooms.

Their hallmark styles are very different, although they share a sense of fun and certain core principles. "It's about the character and the concept," Viva begins. Gypsy continues, "It is highly choreographed and has a story behind it." Friday's class, which is suitable for beginners and non-dancers, looks at a specific set of skills, "taking a song and interpreting the lyrics in a different wa

"We've deliberately not included striptease in the Dance du Jour," Gypsy explains. "That way, we can include both boys and girls in the class." And without giving too much away, they have chosen "a sweet song that can have some incredibly dark interpretations," to ensure that each student can find their own response. Dance technique, although useful, is not necessary. "You have to dance a few steps, but nothing too difficult," says Gypsy.

She compares burlesque to public access TV: anyone can get involved, quickly and easily. She points to Honey Wilde's Thatcher routine as an example of somebody who has created something unique and compelling - "she spent six months on research" - without being a trained dancer. "It is amazing: she is Thatcher!" With High Tease boasting that they present "burlesque as it is supposed to be," there is obviously a high quality end to the genre, yet this does not exclude first-timers and beginners. The workshop will be a chance to try the style, and maybe an introduction for the stars of tomorrow.

High Tease, Voodoo Rooms, 12 August- 26 August.