Helsinki’s streets provide fertile ground for establishing a new dance movement for this trio of dancers.

FOR many who live in Espoo, the area of Kamppi a couple of blocks west of the shopping centre represents only a place where their bus emerges from the tunnel underpass accessing the bus terminal.

For Mishka Luganski, Justus Hartwigsen and Vadim Lilleorg, however, this location represents the beginning of something significant. Many different obstacles confront the realisation of big dreams, but, as they huddle together one Monday evening as the summer twilight stretches on, it is a group of small children who are currently standing in their way.

NOW that the gloom of winter is finally behind us and the sun is promising to make up for lost time, there’s one thing that increasingly comes to mind this time of year: terassi. Suddenly, after months of life under snow, under the weather, under jackets and hats, the populace has already forgotten about the long cold months and can be found happily seated out in the open air, basking under even the smallest ray of sunshine.

So, with establishments around town eager to tap into this seasonal enthusiasm, it comes as little surprise to find that men are hard at work constructing a wooden terrace on the sidewalk in front when I arrive to Kamppi’s Sushibar + Wine in Fredrikinkatu.

The summer of 2011 is finally here and it’s packed with festivals taking place all over the country. The hard part won’t be to find one worth going to, but choosing between all that’s on offer. SixDegrees compiled a guide of the summer ahead to help navigate your way through the sea of festivals.

When did you first get into burlesque?

I have been involved in the burlesque scene since the late 1990s, starting in San Francisco with the Cantakerous Lollies and San Francisco’s Famous Burlesque Orchestra. I was the singer shaking my ruffles with the girls and played piano in the band that included some members of the Tubes, Dead Kennedys, and Flipper.

What made you decide to be a burlesque performer?

I love history, costumes, music, jewelry and the naughtier side of life.

All art requires a certain amount of courage, but what does it take to sashay, strut and strip in front of howling strangers – while your nipple tassels are on fire? That’s the performance forte of Petra Innanen, aka Bettie Blackheart, a “Queen of the Fire Tassels” and bringer of all things burlesque to Helsinki.

The art of burlesque, a colourful mélange of theatre, dance, comedy, striptease and cabaret grotesquery, has very old roots but has undergone a modern international renaissance in the past ten years, thanks in no small part to independent enthusiasts like Innanen and her husband Epe Tenhunen.