Cancan troupe combines fun and fitness
After a day of high kicks, splits and swishing in skirts worthy of Moulin Rouge, Courtney L'amour doesn't need the gym to get a workout.
L'amour teaches traditional French cancan and is the founder of Wellington cancan troupe Les Folies de L'amour.
For L'amour and the troupe, the dance allows them to feel stylish and feminine, and wear sumptuous costumes. It is also physically demanding.
"It's all about fun, fitness and flexibility," says L'amour, who learnt cancan while visiting Noumea last year.
"The girls say they are so much fitter since they joined the troupe. My students are very sore the next day after a class."
Burlesque performer L'amour takes cancan classes several times a year at Footnote Dance Studio, and even teaches at hens' parties.
In March, she held auditions for Les Folies de L'amour (the madness of love), which attracted a "great turnout" of aspiring dancers, some of them former students.
In July, on Bastille Day, the troupe performed, for the first time, at Simply Paris Restaurant in Dixon St.
"We did about seven performances that weekend," says L'amour, who helps choreograph routines inspired by old movies.
The troupe has since performed at the Alliance Francaise's Bal Masque, Dr Sketchy's Anti-Art show at Mighty Mighty, and fundraisers for Christchurch and Wellington Rape Crisis.
L'amour says the cancan is a hit with audiences.
"We get such a positive response - they clap and cheer. It's great to look into the crowd while performing and seeing their smiling faces. It's such a spectacle," says fellow burlesque performer Grace La Belle.
"There's so many dancers moving together, there's the costumes, there's cool tricks and it's fun and energetic. All of it together makes for the most beautiful dessert. It looks fantastic - and never fails to satisfy."
The dancers also get compliments on their costumes, which include multi-layered red, white and blue skirts, star- spangled underwear and feathered fascinators.
"They are colourful, but still demure and modest," says La Belle, who made the fascinators through her company Miss La Belle's Hair Pretties.
L'amour plans to keep taking classes in 2013, and to add more members to the troupe. She will be holding auditions in the new year.
She says she would like to incorporate other dance styles into the cancan, such as the charleston and adagio.
"Grace also wants us to try the Thriller dance and Gangnam Style."
The Dominion Post