FROM the Women’s Institute to Zumba, social groups for ladies are currently experiencing a boom period – but one is now set to stand out from the bunch.
Whitby mum Melanie Liu, or Vixenne Deville as her stage character is known, has launched a burlesque club at Lythe Village Hall, which she hopes will help local women increase their self-esteem by having some tongue-in-cheek fun.
The classically-trained former dancer from Manchester said: “I specialised in ballet from the age of seven, but when I got to 16 I grew some assets that didn’t suit the ballet scene.
“I’ve always been alternative and I love the 1940s, so when my mum thought I was attending ballet I was actually going to do burlesque on the podiums, although there was no nudity involved.”
Twenty six ladies have already signed up for Melanie’s group, which will teach the full performance aspects of burlesque, including movement, dance, pose, make-up, costumes and music.
She added that the groups are intended for women of all shapes and sizes and said: “I want women to have an appreciation of their bodies.
“I’ve got lots of girls who’ve joined that aren’t your typical size zero, but they’re feeling really good about themselves because of this.
“Burlesque is slow-paced, centred around the performance aspects, it’s really not a fitness thing.
“It’s going to be an absolutely individual thing for the person that attends, it’s not for a partner or audience, it’s for them.”
Burlesque started in the 1840s in cities such as Paris and New York where women began getting on stage and dancing provocatively while doing satirical variations of Shakespeare and politics.
These tongue-in-cheek performances were intended to be more humorous than erotic and it is this spirit which Melanie is hoping to channel.
The genre died away during the inter-war periods when decadence was no longer practical, but it has experienced a renaissance since the 1980s.
Modern burlesque dancers such as Immodesty Blaize and Dita von Teese, often feature a lot of nudity within their performances – but this is not something that Melanie will require of her participants.
She has also chosen Lythe Village Hall for the group as it has blinds, so anyone who is a little shy can feel secure.
“This all came about because at Goth weekend my friends have always asked if I would teach them to dance and I finally gave in,” said Melanie.
A burlesque outfit is also not required and casual sportswear can be worn, although she points out that the traditional outfit is just like a leotard, but with frilly bits.
The club will run from 7-8pm on Wednesdays, beginning on 22 February.
Each session costs £3.75 and for more information or to book a place call 07527 062614 or email email@example.com