Burlesque Jazz Dance Workshops for Girls


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Earlier in 2012, based on several previous workshops with Spektrum I devised a concept that would subvert stereotypes that diminish girls to objects evident in some media.  The way putting this into action was by working with Griet Vanden Houden and Sara Marin, both dancer whom I´d met whilst working as a tour manager SEAD (Salzburg Experimental Academy of Dance) through 10 Burlesque Jazz Dance workshops with Spektrum that gathered together 8 girls we subverted the unhealthy representations that are found in contemporary media by allowing the girls to be playful  with their values and their own image and ridicule the media through the medium of burlesque Jazz dance.  The actual original meaning of Burlesque was a device for joke and ridicule towards the oppressions from society.  It comes from the Italian ‘Burla’.   These workshops are close to this meaning rather than any grotesquely distorted image meaning that you see today.  However, we did use the same music as Christina Aguilera and like the dadaists who were originally part of the cabaret scene, used a cut-up technique, mashing this kind of modern representation of Burlesque with the older type of cabaret that was from the 1970`s film Cabaret with Sally Bowles and Joel Grey who ridiculed the glamour of the 1930`s Germany and the rise of fascism that loved elitism, money and power that went with it. Cabaret like Vaudeville often used several styles with absurd descriptions and grouping unrelated acts together.

    By being playful with their own image, represented to them by the media, peers and themselves, they can see how their identity can be fluid and ever changing and can be represented in diverse ways.  This burlesque Jazz dance  workshops helped to break down sexist stereotypes about their body and image that are presented to them from different sources.  This was so that they could find their own image that is based on their own values.
     Griet also led a Movida Workshop giving the girls just a taste, but nevertheless, I remember from just having a taste from one special workshop with a professional dancer at that age from Ballet Rambert, that gave me the confidence to take back the control of my own female image that is so often threatened to be taken away from a young girl for a unattainable ideal.
    Within the workshops themselves there was peer to peer teaching so that the end effect is multiplied.  We hope that these girls pass on their skills and knowledge so they can support others and lead by example.  This video shows some of the process that the girls went through to achieve these aims, and of course, the process in all these workshops, is the most important part.  They performed at the Toihaus Theatre Salzburg in June 2012

Special thanks to Nicole Younes, Karin Hauser, Thomas Schuster, Vera Laner, Griet Vanden Houden and Sara Marin

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