Two years ago, Aimee Carlson was looking for an alternative to the gym. She found it in twerking.
“I've always loved styles of dance that, as a woman, leave me feeling confident, sexy and fit, and most importantly are fun,” Aimee says. “I knew of twerking and so I simply Googled it and found Kris Moskov and Aussie Twerk.”
Based in Prahran, Aussie Twerk and instructor Kris hold classes and courses throughout Australia, and the dance style struck a chord with Aimee, who established Dance Heels Up in October 2015. “It was meant to run one twerk class and one heels class; we now have 14 timetabled classes, three teachers and have expanded to the Bass Coast.”
While Beyoncé referenced it in her 2006 song Check On It, and Miley Cyrus popularised it with her performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, twerking is believed by many to have been derived from a West African dance called mapouka, which is predominantly performed by women and involves shaking their rear ends from side to side, often while bent over. It’s also known as la danse du fussier, or “the dance of the behind”.
Whatever its origins, twerking has exploded in popularity as a way to improve both fitness and confidence. “The one thing I love about these classes is how you see confidence grow in your students as it’s about embracing your figure - the skinny bits, the toned bits and most of all the jiggly bits,” Aimee says.
“During one class you can burn between 450-1200 calories, which is more than a yoga class and equal to a spin class. It improves co-ordination and increases strength in the lower back, arms, glutes, abs and legs. Our youngest twerkers are 18 and our oldest is 65, so anyone can give it ago.”
And while men are also welcome to join a class, Aimee has one rule: “They have to wear twerk booty shorts.”
Dance Heels Up is at 55 Towerhill Rd, Frankston South, and runs classes out of multiple venues on the Peninsula, including Frankston South, Carrum Downs and Somerville. Phone 0488 990 780.