Last weekend saw me heading down (well, up, across and then down) to Northampton for two workshops with Gwen Booth, who is not only a noted belly dance teacher and performer but also performs burlesque under the stage name Miss Minnie Cerise.
This was the first time I'd actually tried burlesque other than a brief intro at Gothla last year, so I was a little worried about whether I'd enjoy it or whether I'd stick out like a sore thumb.
I shouldn't have been concerned. There was a wide range of women there, some with no dance experience at all, and Gwen was a very welcoming teacher with an excellent line in praise. We were learning a 'chorus line' style choreography, very much in the Hollywood Golden Age style, and to break the ice she had us all tottering around in a circle pretending to be Marilyn Monroe. We were running to catch an imaginary train whilst wearing imaginary pencil skirts, carrying very heavy imaginary suitcases, and luring an unsuspecting porter over to carry said suitcase!
Needless to say by the end of all that rigmarole all nerves and selfconsciousness had evaporated and the rest of the workshop was a glorious confusion of posturing, posing and generally unleashing our inner silver screen divas. We all got a printed copy of the choreography at the end, which is something I was really pleased about as I'm not good at taking notes in class, and I definitely wanted to mine this workshop for ideas!
The second workshop was all about veil work, concentrating more on overall ambience than any particular tricks. This class was much more rooted in belly dance, and all the women there were intermediate dancers. I was pretty much average, which was a nice feeling, I'm used to being the slow one at the back!
Gwen took us through a series of combinations, all of which had a bit of an art deco feel. Lots of beautiful shapes and graceful transitions, and a bit of a pep talk on how to get to know your individual veil and learn to work with it. She also broke down barrel turns, which I've never had the hang of, and I left feeling if not quite the Art Deco goddes that was intended, at least less inclined to believe that my veil was out to get me.
All in all a very inspiring weekend, and I can't recommend Gwen (or Belly Dance and Burlesque, who organised the weekend) highly enough!