Getting an Arabesque Burlesque Education

The Lady Josephine. Photo Jo Gorsky. The Lady Josephine. Photo Jo Gorsky.

Wednesday evening, after work, I find myself wandering up Rue Saint-Denis to attend a class called Booty Ballet. I assume that, if I take it literally, it will be exactly as it sounds. This is one in a series of classes in Burlesque Education offered by Arabesque Burlesque. Being drawn to things that break my regular routine, I couldn’t pass this class up.

Walking up the steps to the Mekka Studio, I realize I’m at a hair salon. The door is locked. This can’t be right. I double check my info, walk upstairs, realize: “Nope!” and check the info again. Being overly eager and a good 20 minutes early, I decide to have a seat on the steps inside and wait it out. The wind or someone clangs the door below.

A few minutes later, a woman enters. She introduces herself and explains that she and her friend want to improve their bottoms, but that she has no idea what she is getting herself into. Yay! A new friend! I assure her that I’m in the same boat when the door opens again. A tall, blond ray of sunshine comes up the steps and inquires “Are you waiting for me?” with a smile. It’s The Lady Josephine.

When the door opens, there is a styling chair in the corner with a coat rack to the immediate left. The space is cleared and the walls lined with mirrors. The space doubles beautifully. Josephine takes a seat behind the reception desk to accept registrations, while my nervous self slowly paces around the space. There’s small talk of recent burlesque shows and burlesque performers, mainly referencing the Wiggle Room.

By the time the class gets going, we are four, plus Josephine. “Does everyone have water? You’re going to need it,” Josephine says, informing us that there is a kitchen with cups in the back. We stare at each other as if to say, “What have we gotten ourselves into?” “Get ready to sweat,” she throws back at us beamingly.

Not surprising the class is a total blast! Josephine’s instruction and attitude removes any self-conscious obsessions one may have upon entering a room lined with mirrors. It’s not about getting the moves right, but rather to keep going and have fun. Josephine’s acute awareness and sensitivity towards the group allows her to generously adjust according to our abilities and energy levels. The overall experience is absolutely freeing and something I wish I had during those days I spent in a cubicle.

Specifically, the booty ballet class is “a coquette melding of basic ballet vocabulary and burlesque moves that maximize your gluteus.” It’s open to all levels with no dance background necessary. You might end up doing a push-up or two as well. The class explores a mix from ballet to mime with a few other twists to guarantee a full work out. For anyone who may be uncertain, the hour flies by. There are even a few songs that made me feel like I was in a fully choreographed number.

And if I must say, the line that made my night was: “This is a classic stripper move.” But you’ll have to experience it for yourself.

The class is from a series on drop-ins on Wednesday evening, which also includes: ‘Steppin Out’ with the Lady Josephine and ‘Happy Feet’ with Zelda Blue. This setup is perfect for a busy schedule and for someone who fears commitments. With the 4-pack class pass, you’re free to go to any one the classes at any point during the session for just $40. For more information on the classes currently being offered, click here .

Burlesque, being more or less foreign to me, is something I definitely look forward to exploring more.

Needless to say, I left with a 4-pack class pass of my own. Hope to see you there!

Get in touch @juliersantini