Three years after she taught Ottawa’s first burlesque dance class, Bambi Van Boom has started her own business of shimmy-shaking.
Van Boom, part of local burlesque troupe Capital Tease, is teaching burlesque independently twice a week, all summer long.
She rents a Byward Market space in a white stucco row house at 161 York St by the hour.
“It’s intimate and homey — like a friend’s living room,” Van Boom says, adding that she hopes to continue teaching there in the fall.
Van Boom regularly teaches burlesque classes at Dance with Alana studio. But the new classes focus on elements of the dance she hasn’t taught before.
“Bombshell conditioning” is a fitness-focused cardio class in sky-high heels that incorporates bump and grind, intense shimmying and floor work Van Boom calls “sexy-lates.”
“It’s for people who don’t necessarily want to go to the gym,” she says.
“Burlesque theatre” focuses on creativity, with instruction on choreo-graphy, character development and costuming.
“Costuming as in how to make them, wear them and take them off,” she says.
Van Boom was bitten by the burlesque bug in 2007 when she joined then-budding local troupe Rockalily Burlesque, which she quit in 2010.
By 2009, she was teaching the first burlesque class in Ottawa’s history at Dance with Alana.
“It was hard to tell if it would be well received in Ottawa, but it was,” she says of the classes.
Now she gets to enjoy performances by former students, like Bessie Mae Mucho, of Browncoats Burlesque, and Jolie Stripes, of Bourbon and Spice Burlesque.
“I’m not surprised they love it because it’s such an easy thing to fall in love with and get consumed with, because it feels amazing,” she says.
This year, Van Boom brought burlesque classes to Carleton University’s athletic centre.
She says she hopes the new space, close to the University of Ottawa, will attract students.
“People that age aren’t yet so confident in themselves. I try to create a sex-positive environment. That’s something young people need earlier on.”
She says she also wants more femmes like herself to take her class because it’s hard to find a femme community in Ottawa.
Burlesque is a safe and fun environment to explore and express femini-nity, she says.
“You can come and play dress-up and be hot and sexy and wear heels and express sexuality in whatever way you like.”