Anne's out to amaze at first ever burlesque day

EXPECT temperatures to rise at The Maltings this weekend when the venue hosts its very first Burlesque Day.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 23rd June 2010, 12:37 pm
Updated Wednesday, 23rd June 2010, 12:37 pm

Sunday will see belle of burlesque, Anne Kingston, aka Miss Annabelle Amaze, lead two workshops before joining up with some local performers for a cabaret show in the evening.

Thanks to the likes of Dita von Tisse and the Pussycat Dolls, burlesque has well and truly broken through into the mainstream and after hosting a number of themed events at Floors Castle in Kelso, Anne is looking forward to journeying up from her native Lancashire once again, this time to bring burlesque to Berwick.

She started: "Burlesque is still a relatively new thing for me I got into it through belly dancing. The two are quite similar in that they both incorporate quite exaggerated movements and are all about performance.

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"I'm very excited about the event at Berwick, I've had a few text messages from girls I've previously taught in Kelso saying that they are coming along and I hope to see some new faces too.

"Women can really enjoy burlesque and have a lot of fun. I think its success in part is down to the backlash against having to conform to model looks and being a size zero.

"It's all about women feeling comfortable in their own skin."

The aforementioned Dita Von Tisse, former wife of Marilyn Manson, has become the pin-up girl for burlesque, propelling her to icon status in just a few years, but Anne said that way before Miss Von Tisse started writhing around in giant cocktail glasses, women in generations gone by had been learning the tricks of the burlesque trade.

She continued: "Dita von Tisse is beautiful and has done a lot to make burlesque more high profile but although people might not have necessarily been aware of it, it's been around for nearly a century.

"It can be traced back to 1920s America where women would perform burlesque acts in clubs and even though now when we think of circus performers we think of the likes of Cirque de Soleil, in early 20th century France burlesque dancers were a regular fixture in the circus.

"And it has also been a popular method of performance in England too, particularly in London's vaudeville clubs."

While burlesque is all about teasing the audience, some dancers do bare all, leading to parts of society labelling it as sleazy and smutty but Anne said she would largely disagree with these labels, adding that it was down to the individual just how far they would go.

"For me it's never been about twirling tassels etc, I had enough remarks about me doing belly dancing and people saying that was too smutty.

"I don't really understand why Britain is so prudish when it comes to showing our bodies. We should be proud of our shape but at the same time there is definitely no pressure for any one to strip.

"You can have just as much fun messing around with a feather boa and can learn some useful performance skills."

These days you don't even have to visit a cabaret club to see burlesque, watch a music channel for long enough and you're bound to see elements of burlesque in many pop videos - with Noughties pioneers The Pussycat Dolls the perfect example.

And Anne said in turn, like with so many other genres of dance, picking the right music was essential for burlesque.

She added: "Music is hugely important, particularly when it comes to character burlesque. Songs set the mood and give performers words to interpret.

"The Pussycat Dolls have combined music with burlesque dancing and have helped bring it into the modern era.

"They originally started life as a burlesque dance troop and I've choreographed a number of group routines to their music.

"I've also seen many pop videos that have clearly been inspired by burlesque."

And Anne's advice to anyone who may be hesitant about taking their first burlesque steps on Sunday?

"Don't be frightened; it's important to remember that it's all about having fun. Newcomers often have more potential than they first thought and burlesque is an ideal way for people to express themselves.

"Also the confidence boost you get from burlesque can flow into your day-to-day life when it comes to interviews or dealing with intimidating situations."

There are still places available for Sunday's workshop should you want to acquaint yourself with all things burlesque.

The first, at noon, is for the curious but no so confident and the one at 2.30pm is for those with some dance experience.

Both cost 13 and by taking part you get free entry to the evening's cabaret show at 6.30pm. Otherwise tickets for this cost 5.

Those who go along to the classes are asked to wear a short skirt and high heels and bring a large shirt or robe as well as a feather boa and/or a pair of long gloves.