Reporting Jamie Yuccas
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s playful, it’s full of sparkle and it’s great exercise. The latest craze to hit Minneapolis has been around since the 1840s. It’s burlesque dancing.
At first glance, it might look like any other exercise class.
But you won’t find any tennis shoes at the Playful Peacock. Those will be traded in for dance shoes or heels and a boa. Gina Louise and her partner, Ophelia Flame, just started the Playful Peacock Showgirl Academy.
Students find the classes to be full of music, comedy and camaraderie.
“The costume aspect is one of the most fun things. It really reflects the personality of the performer,” said Louise.
“Classes are just filling. Now is the time to be doing it more,” said Flame.
It looks like a lot of fun for perhaps a bachelorette party or maybe a way to get a spark back in your relationship at home. Most of the women said they come to dance at the Playful Peacock because they want to get more comfortable in their body image.
“I feel a lot of confidence that you don’t normally have in your everyday life. I mean you’re out there just trying something new,” said dancer Angela Kohn.
“You don’t have to be fabulous, you already are,” said Louise.
“We are all different body types, we are all different ages. You just find what works for you and what makes you feel good and what makes you feel beautiful,” said dancer Monica Washington.
Those feelings help women like Washington become beautiful and powerful. She’s even created a stage name, Nicollet Moll.
“It’s pretty and it makes you feel pretty. You get to cover up and reveal, or play and tease,” Washington said.
Once at the academy, dancers give themselves first names and last names that would be appropriate for burlesque dancing, plus it gives them a chance to let loose and have a little fun.
“My first name would be Betty. I would think my last name would be DeVille or Diablo or something like that,” said Kohn.
Names aren’t the only changes happening at the burlesque dance academy. It also gives those who attend a full body workout.
“We’re throwing our arms up and you’re holding lines. You’re stretching your leg and pulling it in and keeping everything sort of centered and pulled up,” Washington said.
Bodies transform at the academy and so do attitudes. Louise said the classes really bring a sense of liberation to people and brings them a chance for self-expression.
It’s so liberating that these ladies want to go from class straight to the performing stage.
“The confidence is really what drew me to it and I just feeling like I can get up there on stage, do my choreography with a big smile on my face and entertain the crowd,” said Kohn.
From there the lessons learned carry over into everyday life for the women.
“It’s about the journey, not the destination so be in the moment when you’re walking and enjoy that,” said Louis while instructing her class.
“It’s good to just put on a little sass, wrap a little boa and see what happens,” said Kohn.
You just have to be ready to shine. The Playful Peacock Showgirl Academy offers classes at the Ritz Theater, located at 345 13th Avenue NE in Minneapolis. For more information on classes, head to the Playful Peacock web site.