Dancers fit, flexible and fabulous – French style
Courtney teaches traditional French cancan and is the founder of Wellington cancan troupe Les Folies de L’amour.
For Courtney and the troupe, the dance allows them to feel stylish, feminine and wear sumptuous costumes, and it is also physically demanding.
“It’s all about fun, fitness and flexibility,” says Courtney, who first learnt cancan while visiting Noumea last year.
“The girls say they are so much fitter since they joined the troupe. My studengts are very sore the next day after a class.”
Burlesque performer Courtney takes cancan classes several times a year at Footnote Dance Studio – and even teaches at hen’s parties.
In March this year, she held auditions for Les Folies de L’amour (the madness of love), which attracted a “great turnout” of aspiring dancers, some of whom were former students.
In July, on Bastille Day, the troupe performed for the first time at Simply Paris Restaurant on Dixon St.
“We did about seven performances that weekend”, says Courtney, 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 the Wellington Rape Crisis.
Courtney 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 troupe mate and 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 Grace, who made the fascinators through her company Miss La Belle’s Hair Pretties.
The costumes were made by members of the troupe with assistance from burlesque costumier Flo Foxworthy, and materials were sponsored by Simply Paris and Abode Café in Lower Hutt.
“All our sponsors are wonderful,” says Courtney.
“Now we just need a hosiery sponsor, as we go through so many pairs of black fishnets.”
In 2013, Courtney plans to keep taking classes and to add more members to the troupe, 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.”