Take it off, baby!

MANILA, Philippines - Flip your hair as sensual as you can. Tease with your sultry eyes that bespeaks of heavenly promises. Flirt with your hands as they move sensually, caressing the body with light, feathery touch. Move your booty without a care in the world. Grind it, bump it--- you name it, do it.

No, we're not talking about sex. We're talking about the latest dance craze, the Vegas Strip.

Vegas Strip, according to dancer extraordinaire Lala Ilao-Dinglasan, is actually based on the earlier conventios of striptease, cabaret, and comedy. It is patterned after the dance routines of strip club dancers, which is often called burlesque, to say the least.

Don't raise your eyebrows just yet. Although enhancing the saucy traditions of cabaret, with elaborate costumes of feather boa, Fedora hats, high-heeled boots, and sexy outfits, modern day burlesque like the Vegas Strip combines the performance art of the traditional striptease with aerobics, thus providing a more contemporary style of fitness.

It features routines and dance movements that have the calorie burning benefits of aerobics in a fun and feminine way.

"Some people, when they hear the world striptease or burlesque, they immediately think of sex and exotic entertainment performers. While the dance moves are sexy ad sultry, it takes the traditional striptease to the next level. It's sexy but it is not bastos, it gives off sexual vibes, but in a decent but fun way," says the dance instructor.

Ilao-Dinglasan doesn't exactly know when and how the genre has started, but burlesque has been around since the 1840s. A risque performance style, it has evolved dramatically since its beginning as a parody of the social classes. Traditionally, it involves a variety of acts, from comedy to dance, mime, and striptease.

Initially performed by club strippers only because of the existing social conventions in that era and the following years, there has been a drastic change in the way society perceives it. The dance industry, and the public in general, looks at it through a different eye. From a dance genre that goes against conventional structures and ideals, it evolves into a fitness style that gives a workout routine with the same benefits that a cardio exercise can provide.

Through the years, the dance style has gained popularity, with Hollywood celebrities such as Carmen Electra and Teri Hatcher showing interest in it. Its popularity could be attributed to the voyeuristic nature of seeing oneself gyrates her body with moves straight out of a strip club, while maneuvering a variety of moves to tone, strengthen, and improve overall wellbeing.

"Like any dance, when you do Vegas Strip, you use your whole body, from the head down to the pinky toes. Every part of the body is moving. It's a whole body workout," says Dinglasan who adds that while the dance exercise tones and strengthens the muscle, it also induces flexiblility, especially if you engage in it frequently.

A one-hour Vegas Strip dance class at the Movement Dance studio is basically comprised of three parts: Flirting, Stripping, and Burlesque. The flirting part is basically about simple suggestive movements, the teasing part. Stripping is about taking your clothes off slowly and seductively. Burlesque incorporates the chair dance, the lap dance, and sometimes the pole dancing.

"But it always starts with a warm up. Like all the exercises, warm up is important to avoid injuries and accidents,"says Dinglasan.

The choreography is all about Vegas. It embodies what Vegas is -- glamorous, fierce and sexy, fast and furious. Think Vegas, dance like Vegas.

Donning several layers of clothes, preferably a button-down polo shirt (your boyfriend's shirt would do), you start with the basic sexy movements like sexy walking, swaying the hips, and shaking the booty. Sometimes, the dance choreography gets the dancers to the floor. Down on their knees, they do some crawling and provocative poses, followed by lying on the floors and do seductive moves.

As the upbeat yet sensual music -- rhythmic melodies from the divas, such as Beyonce and Madonna, make the perfect musical background -- fills the air, you start unbuttoning the polo, beginning from the bottom up to the top. Sensually, remove the shirt halfway and sway to the music. Slowly turn, with the back to the "invisible audience," and do the booty shake, while taking the top garment off.

Then, put you hands on the waistband of your pants. Teasingly, insert fingers on it and move the waistband around. Strip off the pants slowly and seductively, while continuously gyrating to the music. When all the top garments are stripped off, incorporate chair dance, lap dance, or pole dance to the routine.

This is the basic. The dance choreography varies. Dance guru Lala usually creates new choreography for her class, making sure that the students have something new to look forward to in every class.

"This is why this dance is so popular nowadays as an alternative exercise regimen. Dance challenges a person mentally. Unlike when you go to the gym, where you just do spinning, cycling, or aerobics, they tend to repetitive. Just imagine doing it for ten, pero wala pa din nangyari. Not like with Vegas Strip, where every second, you do something different," says the dance guru.

Vegas Strip definitely provides good cardiovascular exercise. It emphasizes that one can be quite seductive as you dance your way to fitness.

"Aside from providing a good workout routine with good physical result, Vegas Strip dance boosts a woman's self-confidence. It takes away their inhibitions as they dance the sexy routine. It makes them feel good about themselves, about their body. It is all about loving oneself, despite our size and shape," shares Teacher Lala who is busy preparing for the dance studio's summer classes which will start on March 21, with a dance recital on June 4.

Good for people aged 18 and up who are looking for a gentle but fun way to get into fitness while embracing their feminine side, Vegas Strip is something to let the inner diva out, bring your sexy side on the frontline, learn great dance routines and be healthy.

Movement Dance Studio has branches in Makati, Pasig, and Greenhills. Movement is conveniently located at 28th Floor Union Bank Plaza, Meralco Ave., front of Metrowalk., Pasig City. For more information, check out www.movementdancestudio.com.

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