Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Diary of a Burlesque Beginner - Week Three

WARNING: I have a cold and am not in the best spirits.

Ok, now that the warning is out of the way I am hoping that will help you understand why I didn’t particularly enjoy last nights session as much as I did the others. As I mentioned in the first post, I have NEVER done any time of dance in my life and as such have NO experience with counts and don’t have the best memory when it comes to routines. This was definitely a draw back for last night as we learnt the majority of our chair routine.

With a “fuzzy” head from my cold, even the most important of information just won’t stick let alone a sequence of dance steps timed to music. By the end of the lesson I literally just wanted to leave. At this very moment in time I feel I am destined to be a spectator; and after the course is over I should just stick to non-performance arts. However… as much as I just wanted to leave I am chalking that up to my fuzzy head and hoping that next week will renew my enthusiasm.

Very poor quality photo of the room we use

I am not nor have I ever been one of those girls who gets right into dancing. I never leant/copied any moves from a film or a video clip, even when I was like 10 and liked the spice girls. When I go out I need have had several drinks before I will even step foot on the dance floor and even then I will only dance if there is decent music playing (which lets face it, is a rarity in today’s “doof doof” music age). Basically, I have never been much of a performer. I used to dread any oral presentations at school and any excuse would do to get out of it rather then stand up in front of everyone. Basically, any situation where someone/a group of people are watching me, I would turn fire engine red and forget how to talk. It wasn’t until 2006 when I did a modeling course (completely dodgy, buts that another story) that I actually gained some more confidence and am now much more comfortable in those types of settings.

That said, I would still rather not do any type of performance or speech in front of a large group but I am ok with small groups of people and bigger groups if I feel like what I am doing is good enough. My philosophy is, I don’t care what people I don’t know think of me because they don’t know me and I am not worried about what people I know will think because if they are a friend they will simply support me and they are not there to judge.

Sarah and I before the lesson

But… this brings me to my breaking point in last nights session. After learning the routine for what would have been half an hour the lovely Kitty Kemble (the instructor) suggested that we split into two groups and perform for the other group so that we can see what it looks like. Good idea, I would love to see what it looks like even if I immediately felt a little anxious. I decided to give it a shot anyway… All was going OK until I missed one step and realized that someone was filming. That was it. Cold = fuzzy head. Fuzzy head = short fuse. Short fuse = easily defeated/easily frustrated. Easily defeated/easily frustrated = Count me out.

1 I do not think I know this well enough to be performing it for any number of people
2 Even if I learnt this routine and knew it well I really don’t feel confident enough to be performing it to people who weren’t in the class and who attend the class afterward (the more advanced class)
3 I don’t do well under pressure so after learning something for half an hour I would prefer not to be filmed as this is more likely to put me off.

Writing this now does make me realize though that I was enjoying myself until that point, even in my dazed state. It was more relaxed and my stuff ups weren’t a big deal. I could stop and watch to pick up the next step rather then relying on my unreliable memory. (It can be hard to see what you are meant to be doing next when you still have you head between your legs from the step before lol). I guess this just goes to prove that the reason I wanted to do this was to HAVE FUN, socialize, learn something new, and get some exercise. Not particularly to perform. I don’t expect to be the next burlesque queen. I also realized that there may be reason that the chair routine isn’t the natural progression to start learning in week two… its pretty intimidating. Anyway, enough whining...

The routine that we were learning is a chair routine to “big spender”. From what I watched the instructor do it looks really good all put together and performed properly in correct timing… so here’s hoping that I will get it down pat next week (or eventually). I tried to remember everything that we learnt in the right order but short of writing it all down as we went I don’t know how I can check if I have it correct. Here is my uncomplicated notes I am hoping will refresh my memory…

The chairs we use. (and the infamous hard tiled floor I mentioned in week two)

Facing right behind chair
Left hand on chair grind from bust to hips
Slap back of chair with both hands
Holding the back of the chair - Hip wiggle, right, left, right, left out and around to right
Head forward - Hair flip with hips going opposite direction (figure eight)
Walk around chair from left
When back behind chair hold head shake around *whats going on in my mind*
Lift chair with both hands (hold under back rest)
Walk forward
*pop my cork* drop chair to one hand
Slide backwards (facing left)
Drop chair (gracefully – if that’s possible!)
Step to the right walking around chair starting with right leg
2 steps – on 3rd step >
Lift right leg onto chair
Lean in toward chair bring right knee in toward body (bottom pointing out) and rub down right leg
Drop right leg onto knee on chair (steady yourself with left arm on chair back)
Step over chair with left leg
Left leg on ground, right leg (from knee to foot on chair)
Legs together (right knee tucked toward left leg)
Left leg on ground, right leg (foot on chair) right hand on right leg – push leg out so legs are open
Right leg over to right side of chair bottom on chair (close to front) legs apart at front
*fun fun fun* legs together, slap on right leg slap on left leg
Split leg to the right (stretch right leg out, bend left leg and slightly tuck under)
Split leg to the left (stretch left leg out, bend right leg and slightly tuck under)
Split leg to the right (stretch right leg out, bend left leg and slightly tuck under)
Shake front – shoulder towards front (double)
Both legs to the right – crouch down to the ground facing right
# I have a feeling something is missing here #
Stand back up – showgirl pose (rub from legs up body, cupping at breast, lift arms above head – stretched, face palms toward roof with hands pointing out)
Windmill (to standing in front of the chair)
Sit - Legs together
Legs up (kind of like a tuck)
Spin on bottom to facing left
Onto back, legs up (straight)
Right/front leg bend, left leg bend, right leg bend – straight up
Legs going down twist toward front
Facing forward legs tucked slightly under to the right

Keep your fingers crossed for me that I have most of this correct because if I do commit this to memory and it sticks its going to be mighty hard to change something that is already programmed into my brain. I do find it easier to do things having seen them and then reading them through so who knows maybe (if its correct) this will be just the thing to help me. I know that all these steps are in there, I just dont know if they are in that order and/or if some are missing...

I did manage to snap about four photos of the place and the chairs we use and one of me and one of the girls (above and below). Will try and get some better pics next time (hopefully when feeling cheerier) and maybe an outfit pic?

Oh and I can happily report, no sore legs after last weeks lesson AND this week the part of the routine with my back on the seat of the chair and my legs in the air felt much less terryfying :)

Sarah - Doing some sort of show star pose


  1. Wow, this is so interesting...good for you! I'd love to do a class or something like sounds like it would be fun!

  2. Don't give up! I have absolutely no talent for picking up choreographed dance moves, but I know that, and whenever I'm put in a situation where I'm supposed to be learning a dance, I just try to have fun with it.

    I'm sorry you aren't feeling well.

  3. Indy - It is interesting, and has been mostly fun. You should see if there is a class near you? They seem to be popping up everywhere...

    Amber - Thanks for the support Amber :) Its very comforting to know I am not the only female not to be able to learn choreographed dance moves in 10 minutes lol. I definitely have the same attitude about just having fun with it too! Feeling a bit better already so hopefully will be back to normal for next weeks lesson.


  4. Good luck with it! I pretty much loathe performing, too, but LOVE (and have always loved) dancing. Any way to anything, really. Well, anything I like, of course. ;]
    -Andi x
    PS You should learn swing dancing. ;] More about socialising, less about performing. And I'm not biased, of course. Haha.

  5. Haha, yeah... I'm definitely realising that I am not big on performing either... I do enjoy dancing, for fun but I dont get right into choreography.

    I was thinking about doing swing before I started this but there isnt anything around my area. I will have to do it in town... perhaps after this is over :) From what I've read it seems you enjoy it so I really think it would be worth a shot. Haha, no! of course your not biased lol.