The art of tease returns to Manawatu as burlesque school opens
Saucy, salacious, sumptuous and seductive, burlesque has undergone something of a revival in recent years.
Palmerston North has been at the forefront of New Zealand's neo-burlesque resurgence, which is characterised by exotic and alluring dance routines, elaborate costuming and often tongue-in-cheek humour.
Ian Harman's Boom Boom Room revues, MisRed Delicious aka Kerry Rodda setting up her Red Delicious Burlesque Academy in the city's Taonui St in 2012, with Palmerston North's Globe Theatre hosting the New Zealand Burlesque Festival in 2014 and 2015, have contributed to the genre's profile.
Two students of Rodda's, Taihape's Lauren Ashton and Palmerston North's Stacey Hayes are setting up Corps de Burlesque – School of Seduction, a burlesque school in the Square Edge dance studio.
Since 2013 as The Ballet School Dropouts the pair have performed under the sobriquets of Trillian (Ashton) and Dahlia Dangerous (Hayes) around the country, in Australia, USA and Canada.
"I performed in a pop-up circus outside Studio 31 in Palmy that had pole dancing, the Zero Gravity cheerleaders and a PG burlesque. I'd never seen burlesque before, and a few months later I got up the courage to do a course," Ashton said.
"I've always been a performer and I fell in love with it."
She met Hayes on the same course at the Red Delicious Academy. Both have won the Queen of the New Zealand Burlesque Festival title respectively in 2014 and 2015.
Ashton said the Corps de Burlesque is their way of giving back to burlesque while sharing their love of the art form, in an effort to keep its traditions alive.
"The courses are designed to create a safe space for women to learn to love themselves, to embrace their femininity, their sexuality and celebrate everything that's good about being a woman."
They include burlesque history, posture, posing, performing in high heels, the art of slowly peeling off gloves, wearing corsets, striptease, and tassel twirling.
"Burlesque is about being inclusive. There is no such thing as too old, a wrong body shape or can't dance. Anyone can enjoy and take part in burlesque," Ashton said.
"It's a wonderful art form, and it's fun."
More information is available on the Ballet School Dropouts website and Facebook page.