Sophisticated and Sexy: Les Coquettes

Les Coquettes are trying to create live theatre that allows people to check their inhibitions and anything from their ‘real life’ that might be weighing them down at the door,” details founding member and artistic Director Catherine Skinner. “We involve the audience in every show, and utilize each venue as dynamically as we can, so that our audiences feel like they are guests at a party we are hosting.”

Formed in 2004 by Skinner and close friend Kathryn Romanow, Les Coquettes blend early cabaret and vaudeville in a sophisticated concoction of fun, arousal and elegance. With a mandate of making cabaret and burlesque accessible for all audiences, Catherine takes great joy when she hears people of all descriptions have had fun at one of their shows. “On Valentine's Day, we had the great pleasure of performing to a sold out audience in Owen Sound and there were as many seniors as twenty-somethings at our show, all delighting in what we had to offer. It was mind blowing and so much fun!”

When you partake in a Les Coquettes show, you’re getting much more than your average burlesque adventure. While Skinner recognizes the value and entertainment of all of the different troupes and performers in the crowded Toronto burlesque scene, she asserts that Less Coquettes are striving for something more. “As Les Coquettes has evolved, I think we are more closely identified as a theatre company than a burlesque troupe, and we're actively carving out our own niche with something I've coined 'Cabaret Burlesque'. The idea is to take the conventions of early cabaret and vaudeville and create a live performance experience that contains elements of burlesque, but offers audiences more than striptease number after striptease number.”

Through elaborate routines and costumes, Les Coquettes approach their shows as “a retrospective of the ‘dancing girl’ mystique from the late 1800's through to modern day.” They mix up their sounds and performances to incorporate classic jazz standards, pop tunes, contemporary and old-world burlesque costumes.

Striving not to take themselves too seriously, the troupe aims “to celebrate sexuality as art in the most playful way that we can.” They also recognize that their shows are primarily created by women, for women and those who love them. “When female audience members are empowered and excited by our shows, then I feel like we're really hitting the mark.”

As they move forward with their vision, Catherine enthuses that Les Coquettes are “actively at work creating a community of artists, and an experience of cabaret entertainment that lives on after the curtain comes down. We're implementing strategies to utilize social media to create a vibrant online community, and we're targeting producers in surrounding areas to bring our magic to other communities beyond Toronto.”