Burlesque puts life into drawing classes

JENNIFER VAN BEYNEN
Last updated 05:00 13/07/2011
ARTISTIC EXERCISE: Rachel Rouge makes sure she  gets the composition right with her drawing of model Venus Starr at  Dr Sketchy in Wellington.
EMMA ALLEN/ The Dominion Post
ARTISTIC EXERCISE: Rachel Rouge makes sure she gets the composition right with her drawing of model Venus Starr at Dr Sketchy in Wellington.

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It's an art class, but not as you'd know it.

Swapping a silent model for drag queens and burlesque dancers, a fortnightly art event in Wellington is breathing life into life drawing.

Dr Sketchy's Anti-Art School was started in 2005 in New York by art school dropout and life drawing model Molly Crabapple.

The movement has spread globally and there are now branches in Wellington, Auckland, Nelson and Christchurch.

"Molly Crabapple wanted to take life drawing out of the really sterile environment where it's cold and there's no music, and there's no drinking, and make it fun and frivolous and sexy and make it more embracing and more welcoming," says Rachel Rouge, who has managed the Wellington branch since it began in 2009.

A typical class starts with a performance from the model.

"That way the artists get to see a little bit of the performer's skillls and talents and passions ... so they're not just an object of limbs and tendons and bones."

Ms Rouge will soon be handing over management of Dr Sketchy Wellington to burlesque dancer and circus performer Venus Starr, who describes Dr Sketchy "like the alternative world of life drawing ... rather than your run-of-the-mill nude life drawing".

"You can have singers, dancers and artists, all sorts of people, all walks of life really, as long as they can bring something different and exciting to the table."

There is a strong burlesque scene in Wellington, and many of Dr Sketchy's performers are burlesque dancers. Miss Starr also runs a monthly burlesque club called Carousel.

Dr Sketchy Wellington is on the second Saturday of every month at Mighty Mighty in Cuba St from 4pm till 7pm.

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