Sunday school: when all the young people come together in fellowship to learn how to design skimpy costumes, twirl tassels on their nipples and earn cash shaking their butts in public. That’s Sunday school, right? Well, it is now.
The Ottawa Burlesque Festival is organizing and subsidizing a day of workshops — the $5 fee per workshop goes directly to the space rental — called Burlesque Sunday School. It’s a way of giving back to, and strengthening, Ottawa’s burlesque community.
"Ottawa is between Toronto and Montreal, and you’d think we’d be on the same level, but Ottawa, despite having had burlesque for about nine years, is still a little behind,” says Helvetica Bold, who is coordinating the event. “A big part of the point of this event is to learn from each other and develop more community-minded behaviours so that we can offer Ottawa a better form of burlesque entertainment."
Geared for both new and established performers, the six workshops cover topics ranging from costume design to business acumen to improv comedy (it helps to be able to make a few jokes to keep the audience on board and loving you even if something goes wrong with the act).
The day concludes with the Producer’s Panel, where some well-known Ottawa burlesque producers — Helvetica Bold, Jolie Stripes, Jody Haucke, Bella Barecatt and Kamie Lyann, with Rhapsody Blue as the moderator — talk about their experiences and “try to enlighten performers about how things are run, how to better contribute, and how to get more out of performing in Ottawa."
The Ottawa Burlesque Festival’s 2014 debut was a success, Helvetica Bold says. “It was amazing. Friday sold out. Sunday sold out. Saturday’s portion was in a 900-person theatre, so it didn’t sell out, but we had 450 or 500 people there. It got amazing reviews."
If Burlesque Sunday School is popular enough, The Ottawa Burlesque Festival may make a day of workshops a quarterly event, and the resultant more and better burlesquers in the city should help ensure the success of future festivals.
God’s day will never be the same.