Meagan FunkBy REBECA KUROPATWA
Winnipeg burlesque dance studio owner Meagan Funk is out to help women find their inner dance groove while also building their body image.


From the young age of four, Funk’s parents encouraged and supported her in taking many different dance classes – and she loved it. Funk decided to make her passion also her career and – at the age of 22 – she enrolled in the study of Commercial Dance at Toronto’s George Brown College.
After graduating, Funk joined a cruise ship, dancing her way around Mexico, before heading back to the Toronto area. “I moved on to working in a magic show in Niagara Falls,” recalled Funk. “We had about four tigers and a lion, and it was really neat.
“I would get cut in half, levitate, disappear, get sawed, and everything. I did that for about three years in Niagara Falls.”


Then, in 2014, Funk decided to move back to Winnipeg and start up a dance company, teaching burlesque-style dance classes. Her company started with three students, and now has 60 students in three different levels of dance.
While classic burlesque is the art of seduction and striptease, at these classes, there is no stripping. “We don’t do the stripping in our classes,” said Funk. “We include a lot of the sexier movements that inspire confidence – strutting and stuff like that...removing a glove really slowly and that tease aspect. It’s a lot of strutting, shimmies, shaking the shoulders, lots of hip action as well.


“With my burlesque-fusion style of dancing, it takes the elements of jazz and hip hop street dance, and combines it with the art of seduction. Some of the moves are more provocative than you can find in another type of dance class, and it’s meant to instill confidence. People take classes for all different reasons, but some are looking like they don’t feel comfortable in their bodies.”
While the class is not gender specific and all are welcome, nearly all the students are female. “Women are the people that are more drawn to this,” said Funk.
“It’s a lot of body positivity in the class, so there’s all sorts of sizes and ages. And there’s no judgement. A lot of people really like the class, because it’s a judgement-free zone. A lot of them have made friends throughout it, and just enjoy feeling comfortable in their bodies.”


Funk started the classes, because she really liked the inclusiveness of the style of dance and lack of strict guidelines, allowing students to move carefree and have a lot of fun. She also found that “it is a little bit more seductive and you can be creative with it...That’s what I like about these classes. They’re upbeat and a lot of fun.”
For now, Funk is renting the studio space to conduct the classes, and always looking for ways to collaborate with other dance studios and dance art enthusiasts. She has a group of professional dancers who perform with her at events – from weddings, to tattoo shows, and galas.


Funk also does wedding choreography. “This is not your typical step, touch wedding choreography,” she said. “But, if you want to break out into 90s hip hop, I’ve done that before – where the couple has just broken out into some Back Street Boys and, more like a flash mob style at their wedding...lots of different types of dance services.”
For students choosing to join Funk on stage, Funk works to develop showcases that take place twice a year.
This past September, Funk collaborated with Karina of Rising Strong. “She did this International Day of the Girl event,” said Funk. “I met her through a group of women entrepreneurs called Hustle and Charm. So, she put on this Day of the Girl event where they had young performers perform throughout the night, and then they had a workshop where we talked about issues surrounding confidence with young girls. And, at the very end of it, I did a strut...not a sexy strut – not like my burlesque classes – it was more like a confident walk...and talking about walking with confidence and a fun ice breaker type thing for the event.”
Funk’s next session of dance classes include dance styles in both burlesque fusion and contemporary jazz, open to all levels and ages of adults. This session started on January 6th and runs until March.
For more information, visit www.mfunkdance.com and/ see social media handles in Instagram and Facebook, prairiedivadance and mfunkdance.