Swain's World: A Girl’s Guide to Expat Life in the UAE with Sarah Swain

Sarah gives the region’s sauciest workout, burlesque dancing, a whirl!
BySarah SwainSaturday , 16 November 2013
Mila Tenorio and Sarah Swain
© ITP Images
Mila Tenorio and Sarah Swain
Mila Tenorio and Sarah Swain
© ITP Images
Mila Tenorio and Sarah Swain

It dates back to the 17th century, but this risqué art form underwent a revival in the Noughties thanks to celebrity dancer Dita Von Teese, not to mention that dodgy 2010 Christina Aguilera film. Now burlesque has arrived in Dubai, and while you might have the impression it’s just about shimmying around in underwear, burlesque requires poise, elegance and fitness, apparently. Dance Fit has brought in glam instructor Milla Tenorio to teach their class. She’s from Brazil, but learned the dance in Paris (where else?). 

The class is held in a bright dance studio, and Milla’s moves are worked around a simple wooden chair and set to music. After warming up the class, she demonstrates a seemingly simple move that involves pacing around the chair and swinging your hips in time to the music, before perching alluringly on the seat. I soon discover that it’s all about posture. There’s nothing sexy about stomping. “The hardest part is achieving the strength in your core and your legs and maintaining the proper alignment of your body to be able to do the movements in a beautiful way,” says Milla. “If it doesn’t look elegant, it can look awful.” 

Next we work on a ‘boomerang’ move, also known as a ‘fan kick’, which involves kicking your legs in the air one after the other while perched on the chair. Milla keeps telling me to point my toes. 

As in any normal dance class, we run through the moves one by one before putting them together to the music. It’s much harder than I expected, but it’s fun and a good workout. I even manage to master the ‘back drop’, which involves reclining right back on the seat, albeit with Milla hanging onto me. The next day my stomach muscles ache, so I must have been doing something right.  

The classes are proving to be a big hit with Dubai girls. Milla says: “So far the reaction has been amazing. Some ladies want to be more beautiful for their husbands, and there are others who just want to boost their self-esteem.” 

INFO: Dhs800 (one class a week for six weeks), Dhs1,200 (two classes a week for six weeks), 8.30pm-9.30pm, Tue, and 4pm-5pm Sat, Al Sayyah Building, Sheikh Zayed Road, 04 388 4157, www.dancefitme.com

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