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Testing UTrain: Vogue

Do the workouts really work?
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We learned five important elements of vogueing. MAHIKA JAIN/THE VARSITY
We learned five important elements of vogueing. MAHIKA JAIN/THE VARSITY

After a very stressful week, I had a bit of relief before my next round of midterms and was in the mood for something fun! My roommates were interested in joining me for this week’s workout, so we decided to do one of the vogue classes posted on the Sports & Recreation YouTube account. 

We chose the class from September 30, since it might be a more introductory class, and we were all new to vogue. It was a beginner class that claimed we would “learn and practice the 5 elements of vogue – catwalk, duck walk, hand performance, floor performance, and spins and dips!” 

Vogue dancing was named after the famous magazine of the same name, and used poses from high fashion and ancient Egyptian art to tell a story and demonstrate how gender is a performance. I was first introduced to vogue from the documentary Paris is Burning, which captures a picture of the New York ballroom scene in the 1980s — a scene associated with the contemporary LGBTQ+ community — and was excited to try it out. 

The class was taught by Matthew, also known as the Legendary House Mother Snoopy of the Kiki House of Disney. Snoopy has been voguing for over seven years and was even featured on So You Think You Can Dance Canada. I was honoured to be learning from someone so experienced. 

The class started with Snoopy introducing himself and giving us a breakdown of the structure of the class. We would begin with a warm up, work our way through each element of vogueing, and, if there was enough time, end with an exercise that combined all of them. 

We started the class with hand performance, where we practiced classic moves along with Snoopy, slowly increasing our speed. One of the highlights was spelling the alphabet with our arms and tracing the shapes of items in the room. Both of these activities required us to add our own creativity and flair to each movement, and trying to bring this aspect into the dance really got us out of our heads. 

We moved into the catwalk, which Snoopy did a good job breaking down into parts that were easier to pick up — shoulders back, butt out, and heels up to resemble being in high heels. Once we got into the catwalk and sped up a bit, one of my roommates mentioned that she had never felt more powerful, and it rang true. We were feeling it. In total, we did three variations of ‘catwalk arms’ that brought in some of the skills we had learned in the hand performance section from earlier. 

Next up was the duck walk, which was crazy! My thighs were on the fire after just a couple of rounds. Snoopy mentioned that those who are new to vogue will find this the hardest. With practice, he said that we will build up the thigh strength necessary to be able to do it bigger and add in arm movements. However, since it was early in the semester, we stayed simple and just did ‘shoulder taps’ with our duck walk. 

Finally, we ended with ‘floor work,’ dips, and an independent dance party and jam session to conclude the session. 

Overall, I loved the class! It was a totally new high-energy experience that got my heart pumping. I was glad I did the YouTube class. Now, I want to work my way through the semester of classes to improve my skills!