ROGERS PARK — Looking to further your sexual education? School Of Girlesque owner Maria Frangos wants to help women find their "inner sexiness" through her new Rogers Park burlesque and fitness studio.
"School of Girlesque is not going to just be about burlesque. I think it's about womanhood," Frangos said.
Frangos, born in Greece, goes by the stage name "Athena" and grew up in New Orleans — singing, dancing and performing before getting into the burlesque scene about 10 years ago, she said.
Now she wants to help empower women of all shapes, sizes and ages through dance and fitness classes that bring "a real New Orleans-style flair to Rogers Park and Chicago."
The studio at 6970 N. Sheridan Road offers a number of unique intimate-sized classes that include introductory sessions for ballet and burlesque: Floor Werk, Chair Flair, Bump-N-Grind, Babes And Boas, Pump Fitness, Neo-Burlesque, Tassles And Assles and more. A Latin dance class is also slated to make the curriculum.
Classes begin at $20 for a single group session, with five classes for $75 and 10 for $150. The studio also offers private bachelorette and birthday party burlesque experiences, one-on-one lessons and rentable rehearsal space.
Funky, handmade jewelry by Chicago-based Zoes Barbie Shoes will be for sale at the shop, as well as pasties, boas and other burlesque accessories made by Frangos.
She said part of her mission was to be "as community-driven as possible" and open to any other local artists who may have something to offer her store.
Since she opened on Tuesday, Frangos said several customers had already rented space in her studio, but she's looking forward to getting to know her new community once classes begin Dec. 14.
Frangos, a classically trained ballerina, singer and musician among other talents, came to Chicago in July after her friend, "American Pickers" star Danielle Colby, offered her the Sheridan Road storefront that Colby leased, but rarely used.
Wanting to share her passion for performance, Frangos said it became her goal to create a comfortable place where women could focus on fitness and self-confidence through different forms of dance.
It should feel like going over to a girlfriend's house, she said. "Like, your most extra-glamorous girlfriend."
She said she too often hears from women who come to see her shows they "wished" they could do what she did. She came to Chicago to tell them they can.
School of Girlesque is a place for women of all ages, shapes, sizes and abilities, Frangos said. It's a place where students can learn a new skill, focus on health and go on to pursue more advanced burlesque techniques if they wish, she said.
"You know what burlesque is about? It's about women empowerment, it's about being up on stage and being a star," Frangos said. "That's the special thing about it, it's for every single woman in mind."
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