“You Can Do Anything, You’re a Princess!” – or, how I went to burlesque summer camp

burlesque summer camp

The idea of burlesque-themed vacation may seem a little risky. Burlesque’s natural habitat is rather the city, the club, the night. Meanwhile, a group of burlesque fans (both female and male!) under the leadership of our burlesque mother, Betty Q, went to New Kawkowo for a burlesque summer camp.

burlesque summer camp

Relaxing in a hammock.

Program

I have written many times that burlesque is not a dance style. And, as I expected, there were no dance classes during this trip. There was聽a series of workshops on a variety of topics,聽very widely聽associated with burlesque – from a mind map, through history and discussion on scientific text (there are such in existence!), though classes on body awareness and coordination, and of course a YouTube party with watching the most interesting burlesque performances from all over the world. In addition, a short instruction class on tassel twirling was a must. Everyday we could (but were not obliged to) participate in a morning warm-up and typical sports class conducted by Vila Vanilla. Another interesting addition was a presentation and discussion about the art of drag and how it connects to burlesque, led by two drag performers (Yalla Yalla and Chirusska). In short, there was no way we could complain about being bored!

burlesque summer camp

Modern Cindy Crawford, our Vila Vanilla

burlesque summer camp

Vacation meaning聽dolce far niente? Not here 馃榾

burlesque summer camp

We learned about the benefits of cooperation by dressing ourselves in a boa, gloves and petticoat and by eating chocolate… really!聽

Participants

I really, really liked how diverse a group we were. Our group had people of all ages, with varying degrees of stage experience and knowledge of burlesque, but also with a whole range of own interests and skills that could be useful in burlesque and in everyday life. As a result, we were also extremely self-sufficient – we cooked out own (delicious!) food, organized all our activities and trips to the nearby lake. The sense of community between us all was very, very nice.

burlesque summer camp

Eating meals in the open air, at one table (well, we added a second one) – BEST <3

burlesque summer camp

This is more or less how we all looked together 馃檪

Place

The house were we were staying was great. At the end of the post I put a link to its website so that you can find more information, but let me just write that a place where in each room you can find a record player with a collection of vinyl records, a swing (sic!) or a huge bookcase, has my seal of approval.

Most classes took place either in the living room or in the barn. The barn was very spacious and equipped to have physical classes there, so we used it almost every day, no matter the weather. We also had two improvised showcases there – one was the culmination of a burlesque challenge, during which we had to create acts-tributes to the burlesque legends. The other was a presentation of acts on which we wanted to get feedback from the audience.

Let me tell you, performing in a barn is a real school of life for any performer. Zero backstage, no stage, one spotlight – in such circumstance the strength of the performance is everything. I don’t think it’s possible to have this intimacy with the audience on a club stage – but maybe it’s also the matter of the fact that we performed for each other. We were, however, joined by the house owner and his friends, as well as a team of yogins who were also staying in the house.

burlesque summer camp

View from the doorstep. Just lay down on a blanket and enjoy!

burlesque summer camp

Vila Vanilla taking a sun bath.

Was it worth it?

The program of the trup was planned in such a way that both the people who are completely new to burlesque and those who already have some experience, had something to do. It somehow happened that in the group I was the one with the longest “seniority” after Betty (it’s been… 4 years already?) but I too learned something new, both about burlesque and about myself as a performer.

It is important for me that one of the aims of the activities was to make the people who often make up our audience realize that there is something more to burlesque than just attractive visuals. I don’t think I will forget the discussion about whether burlesque and striptease are different, how, and whether they are feminist. The same goes for biographies of some of the burlesque starts who I knew by their names but did not know anything about their personal stories.

The whole experience was a great pleasure for me and I will be most happy to repeat it. Anyway, even before leaving this magical place we agreed with the owner for a date for the next year! Who knows, maybe next time I will play the role of the teacher?

The house in New Kawkowo

Akademia Burleski Betty Q

burlesque summer camp

burlesque summer camp

Beautiful little lake whose name I don’t know but I went skinny dipping in it 馃榾

burlesque summer camp

Last but not least, me on vacation – without makeup but stylish nonetheless 馃檪