Student Life

Keeping it sultry with Lady Josephine

An open house, the burlesque way: chair stripteases, inner sexiness and tease 101

On Aug. 29, L’Académie Arabesque Burlesque invited newcomers to discover, learn and practice burlesque performance.

Approximately 20 guests, comprised mostly of women, attended the event at the Wiggle Room, a go-to spot for Burlesque nights on Boulevard Saint-Laurent. The event took place in a large, dimly lit room that serves as a bar when classes aren’t taking place. Music played, and high-key lighting drew the eye to the room’s pièce de résistance: the stage. Dark leather couches, brick walls, framed pictures of dancers and large, dramatic curtains gave the space a vintage feel.

Lady Josephine is one of the founders of L’Académie Arabesque Burlesque, and was one of the hosts of the open house. She said her vision for the school started when she participated in workshops with her mentor, BonBon Bombay, in early 2015.

“This is our second year teaching here at the Wiggle Room,” she said. “It started out with workshops, and now I’m the director. There are also other teachers who give classes, workshops and coaching.”

The two-hour evening session was divided into five categories: tease 101, chair striptease, burlesque fitness, theatre exercises and dance choreography. Lady Josephine was accompanied at this event by Jessica Rae, another teacher at the school.

The evening started off with Lady Josephine trying to bring out participants’ inner sexiness. The guests formed a circle, closed their eyes and had to imagine themselves doing something “sexy” in public. They then had to perform that scenario for another guest.

When asked to define the word burlesque and what it meant to her, Lady Josephine described it as a “theatrical striptease”.

“[Burlesque is] stripping, but funnier—a celebration of nudity and sex as two of life’s best things—and a cry for revolution dressed up in a pretty costume,” said Lady Josephine.

Burlesque bachelorette party Photo by Eloise Huston.

Lady Josephine demonstrated striptease on a chair. Each individual chose to play either the submissive character, which involved sitting on the chair and spreading their legs open, or the dominant character, which involved turning the chair around and sitting. For the last two parts of the evening, Rae also showed participants’ the theatre’s place in a burlesque performance, and how dance and striptease are equally crucial to the performance.

At Arabesque Burlesque, Josephine and the other teachers teach the American burlesque style, which is very theatrical, comedic and costume-oriented. Most of the school’s students are women, but Lady Josephine said Arabesque Burlesque also attracts many men. She explained that it is a way for them to embrace their sensuality.

Lady Josephine encourages anyone interested to come visit one of the three open houses that happen every year, or to try out a few classes. Burlesque, she said, attracts people for a variety of reasons.

“People are either looking for a way to discover self-confidence and explore the sensual side of life, or they’re looking for a fun way to use their body on stage,” she said.

For more information on upcoming open houses and workshops, visit their website.

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