NUVO BURLESQUE DANCE TEACHES SUBTLETY: SHOW EVERYTHING BUT NOTHING
KELOWNA – On Monday night 30 Kelowna women assembled in ranks to meet their new sergeant. But with drills like nailing a pirouette in three-inch heels to the roar of jazz music, they're not your average bunch of soldiers.
They call themselves the Army of Sass and they're the latest recruits of a growing Canadian dance genre: Nuvo-Burlesque.
Toronto-based founder Carla Catherwood created the dance turned feminine movement for women keen to embrace their sexuality through a fusion of jazz, cabaret, show girl and burlesque routines – all without having to fling clothes to the floor.
Their motto? Be classy. Be confident. Be yourself.
Kelowna dance director Lucy Hazelwood, who is coordinating the 13-week course here in Kelowna, says it's about women stepping outside their comfort zone, exploring their sexy side through sensual rather than vulgar movement.
“It's very tasteful – it's sexy but classy,” Hazelwood says. “There's nobody there in thongs – you have to leave something to the imagination.”
Recruits of all ages, sizes and skill levels came out for the debut class Monday night, assuming various ranks as privates, corporals and lieutenants depending on their dance experience.
Hazelwood was blown away by the turn out.
“We had 30 dancers show up, which is huge,” she says. “I was expecting seven.”
She's already looking for a new, bigger studio space to accommodate the burgeoning militia of dancers.
“It's a nice problem to have,” she says, and definitely a first for Kelowna. “It's really brand new for this city and we're taking baby steps to make sure it's done right.”
With bases in Toronto and Vancouver, the armies of sass represent a sisterhood vowing to “leave no good woman behind,” Hazelwood says.
While they toy with military symbolism, the training is serious and heavy on both core and cardio workouts.
“Just being in heels is fitness itself – now you're going to do the struts and drops.”
Anna Jacyszyn is one of the Army's new recruits and admits the class took her by surprise. It wasn't just the chest curls and head flips, but also the instructor's insistence on a forgotten art of seduction: subtlety.
“She very much wants us to be ladies... To show everything but nothing,” Jacyszyn explains, a refreshing departure from the kind of raunchy performances of stars like Miley Cyrus at the MTV Video Music Awards.
At 47 Jacyszyn felt every bit as welcome as the younger dancers.
“I was giggling with the 22-year-olds,” she says describing the infectious feel-good spirit of the class. The best part? A feeling of confidence that lingers beyond the studio.
“It has a ripple effect you're going to pass that on to the next person you see.”
Army of Sass Kelowna will cap-off their training with a December performance. If it peaks your interest, check out the weekly drop-in sessions offering in the coming weeks. Those closer to Penticton can sign up with a sister performance group that kicks off Friday.
Credit: Army of SASS Vancouver
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