Academy of Burlesque & Cabaret is run by Gypsy Charms and Viva Misadventure. (That’s us on the left – Gypsy in red, Viva in black.) We both of have a wealth of experience in performing and teaching, and we draw upon our joint strengths in burlesque and cabaret to provide high-quality instruction and performance in both. Actually, it’s a bit awkward writing about ourselves, so we’re now going to write in the third person to make it sound like we’re not blowing our own trumpets! Here goes… They bring glamour, style and a naughty sense of humour to their work. Gypsy, based in Edinburgh, Scotland is a specialist in burlesque striptease, and Viva, a former international showgirl now based in Cardiff, Wales, brings her expertise in show-stopping cabaret dance styles to the partnership.
They teach various styles of performance art that herald from the cabaret and variety theatres, including burlesque in its many and varied forms. They feel burlesque is as much about acting as it is about movement; escaping for a while to become a 40s femme fatale, a wartime pin-up or a modern-day Pussycat Doll. As well as running Academy of Burlesque and Cabaret, they also own sister site Charm School, which offers more in the way of hen party dance classes. Gypsy teaches burlesque classes and hen parties in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and around Scotland, while Viva teaches burlesque classes and hen parties in Cardiff, and around South Wales and the South West of England.
Gypsy and Viva are also a force to be reckoned with as performers, and can be seen at many of the UK’s finest burlesque events, club nights, and have a strong presence on the corporate circuit. Gypsy is a regular burlesque performer and host at various events in Edinburgh, Glasgow and beyond, and Viva is available for burlesque and showgirl duties in Cardiff and South Wales. They are leaders of professional showdance troupe French Fling, which comprises professional dancers and gymnastic champions, which is based in central Scotland, and is available to hire UK-wide. That’s us again on the right, with the one and only Gok Wan, when we took part in his live How To Look Good Naked roadshow.
PhD in Striptease?!
Gypsy and Viva have judged on panels of international burlesque competitions, have appeared as mentors in TV shows such as How to Look Good Naked, have starred in one of the world’s leading burlesque instructional DVDs (Ministry of Burlesque’s ‘Burlesque for Beginners’). Gypsy has even completed a sociology PhD on striptease, entitled “The Private, The Public and The Pubic: Striptease and Naked Power in Scotland”. Great title!
The dynamic duo see teaching as a performance; their enthusiasm and energy can be seen in the routines they create. More about them individually below…
Gypsy Charms (also known in daylight hours as Sarah Vernon) has been creating and teaching burlesque based courses since 2005. One of the ‘pioneers of new Scottish burlesque scene’ (The List), she is known as the Grand Dame of Scottish Burlesque. For over a decade she has taught cabaret and burlesque workshops across Europe and with the National Dance Agency in the UK. Her performance and choreography interests range from: striptease (in all its guises); high-kicking can-cans with our French Fling showgirl troupe; curating cabaret and variety shows; creating full-length comedy based ‘burlesques’ and showgirl revues; and hosting and presenting cabaret and burlesque shows. Gypsy has appeared in various guises on the BBC, Channel 4, Sky Uno, Canale 5, RTL and as a featured performer in two music videos. She also creates The Illicit Thrill, a show dedicated to strip clubs and strip club culture that opens its doors during the Edinburgh Fringe, which has been running since 2014. With a PhD in striptease she is bold, brazen and utterly uncompromising, topped off with ‘a naughty twinkle in her eye’ (The Scotsman).
The courses Gypsy creates are based on a combination of dance and drama techniques, delivered in a client-focussed structure rather than that of a ‘traditional’ dance class. Central to her work is her belief that everyone can discover their inner performer. The courses she has created reflect in their structure and delivery inclusion and accessibility.
Viva Misadventure (Jane Kelly) joined the company as a director in 2007.
Viva spent her 20s working as a showgirl round the globe. Dancing in Paris, Japan, the Alps, Hong Kong and more, she has a wealth of professional performance expertise in revue shows. Working in this specialism which focuses on performance aesthetics has filtered into her choreographic style. Her ability to help clients to create their perfect aesthetic through movement and presentation is evident in her contribution to ABC’s courses. She creates and teaches courses around classic cabaret styles such as can-can and showgirl revue that are aimed at both a dance-educated client base and absolute beginners. Her ability to create classes and workshops that are accessible and enjoyable is invaluable to our Academy’s mission to create inclusive and engaging products. Like Gypsy, she specialises in teaching adults with a wide range of ages and abilities.