By Kelly Chia, Peak Associate
I’ve written about Luminesque before: the Vancouver-based company was my first introduction into the glamorous world of heels dance. Pre-COVID, taking classes with the Luminesque instructors and their community, the endearingly nicknamed “Glow Babes,” really helped me take pride in my body and the things that it was capable of. So when I heard about their five–hour long dance session over Zoom called “Dance All Day,” I was excited to return to a hobby that had brought me so much joy and confidence. With all the proceeds from this event going towards the Battered Women’s Support Services, there was no better time to revisit my love of dance.
Admittedly, I felt a bit awkward at first. An unexpected problem of Zoom dance classes is trying to make sure your body can still be seen on camera. I would often have to crane my neck to make sure I could still see what was going on while doing some of the floor exercises. Also, somehow being on camera felt infinitely more awkward than being in a room full of mirrors with 25 other people, but the instructors’ energies definitely helped ease us into the movements.
Vanessa Lalonde, the founder of Luminesque, started the day with a fun and easy-to-follow warm up. Then, Terran Milne led us through our first dance class of the day, easing us through really smooth movements. Her choreography to Lizzo’s “Lingerie” played with slow movements where we sat on our hips and sharper movements — a flick of the wrist, a quick turn — which really helped set the sensual mood. She encouraged us to incorporate breath and intention with our movement, and focusing on that kept me from wondering which moves I was getting wrong. While I struggled a bit with having enough space for some of the movements, I felt encouraged by the music and Milne’s consistency. As we ended the choreography with Lizzo whispering, “Damn,” I felt pretty incredible.
I also joined Jojo Zolina’s class, where we started out sitting on our floor. Zolina’s electric, joyous energy was immediately infectious as he laughed and cheered the class following along with his movements. The music was faster, sassier, and the choreography was easy to pick up. Zolina emphasized working within the frame that the webcam allotted —- a unique problem when choreographing online. His choreography focused on what he referred to as “the art of the tease” and left plenty of room for freestyle, which allowed us to make the routine more personal.
After these two classes, I took a break and rejoined when Lalonde closed off the day with a meditative cool–down. She delivered positive affirmations while we stretched, and while I find it incredibly easy to get stuck in my own thoughts these days, listening to her was relaxing and made it easier to find peace. Lalonde reminded us to adore our bodies for carrying us no matter how much or how little we did. It was so gratifying to hear her tell all of us it was okay to acknowledge that need to move or rest, and that both were acceptable.
It had been a while since I had danced with Luminesque, and I had forgotten how fun it was to just move my body and be happy in it. I have always found the teachers to be kind, patient, and focused on making everyone feel out their sensuality in a way that made them feel confident. Concluding the event, Lalonde informed us that their new studio had just opened in Vancouver and they would be hosting socially distanced in-studio intensives from January 25–29. They also offer drop-in sessions and choreography packages online for dancers who feel more comfortable at home. The intensives, offered from beginner level to intermediate/advanced, promise to be a week-long way to reconnect with creativity and other people.
The Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS) is an organization dedicated to providing support and advocacy for women that have experienced domestic violence. For more information on their services and ways you can help, please visit their website [bwss.org].