Grand Forks’ can can troupe, Les Folles Jambettes, represented Canada at a German can can festival. Photo courtesy of Melanie Shenstone

Grand Forks’ can can troupe, Les Folles Jambettes, represented Canada at a German can can festival. Photo courtesy of Melanie Shenstone

Grand Forks’ can can troupe gets Civic Arts grant

The grant was bestowed by the City of Grand Forks and Gallery 2

A Grand Forks can can troupe has received a $1,000 Civic Arts grant from city hall and Gallery 2.

The can can is a folk dance that emerged in 19th-century Europe as a popular form of protest against the aristocracy, Melanie Shenstone of Les Folles Jambettes told The Gazette. Women would lift up their petticoat skirts and kick up their legs in the streets as a way of thumbing their noses at ballet, which distinctly appealed to upper caste continentals.

“It’s like the grandmother of burlesque,” she joked.

The Crazy Legs’ Melanie Shenstone puts up her petticoat skirt on stage. Photo courtesy of Melanie Shenstone

The Crazy Legs’ Melanie Shenstone puts up her petticoat skirt on stage. Photo courtesy of Melanie Shenstone

Shenstone said the Jambettes, whose full name in French means “the crazy legs,” normally includes around a dozen city ladies ranging from their mid-20s to their late 60s. The grant money will go towards new costumes for the troupe.

The troupe hopes to plan more flashmobs, where dancers strut their stuff at undisclosed public locations. The grant money will also partly make up for lost revenues stemming from cancelled shows.

The Jambettes are a non-profit group that normally performs at the Rock Creek and Grand Forks fall fares. The troupe has also represented Canada at can can festivals in Germany, Shenstone said.

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