Welcome to Burlesque!
Are you new to the world of Burlesque and don’t know where to start? I have asked fellow performers what tips they would give a newcomer and here is a compilation of those answers. I hope you find them helpful.
1. Do your research!
Go and watch as many different shows as possible! Nothing will give you a better idea about Burlesque and its variety of styles than watching various people perform.
Also, take classes from multiple teachers (each has their own performance and teaching style) and follow other performers on social media.
Additionally, it's important to learn the history of burlesque in order to understand where it all started and who the iconic performs of their days were. One way to learn about the history of burlesque is the 'Cabaret, Darlings' podcast by Millie Dollar.
2. Find YOUR style!
Take your time to find out who your Burlesque persona is. What influences your acts? What is important to you when going on stage? Burlesque is not just one style, find what fits you best.
You don’t like rhinestones? Don’t use them.
You want to create an act to 00’s Euro Dance music? Do it!
I recommend following a variety of performers on social media to expand your burlesque knowledge.
3. Rehearse effectively!
Before going on stage, film yourself during rehearsal. This way you get a chance to see yourself from the audience’s perspective.
Ask yourself: What do you like about your movements? What would you like to change?
It is also a wonderful tool to observe your evolution as a performer over time and most producers will ask for a rehearsal video when you apply for a show.
It is also worth booking a 1-2-1 session with a trusted and experienced performer before you debut an act on stage. They will be able to give you very specific feedback on how you can perform your act so it will bring you and the audience joy (or whatever feeling you want to evoke).
4. Allow yourself to change.
While it is important to find your style when you start, it is equally important to keep experimenting and evolving. The way you see yourself as a performer will most definitely change over time and that’s a good thing. Don’t cling to a style, an act or even your stage name if it just doesn’t fit you anymore.
5. Value your time!
You will probably get excited for any chance to perform. Unfortunately, there are producers who abuse this eagerness. So while I won’t tell you “never perform for free” because it’s just not realistic, I want to invite you to value your time. Before travelling across the country, paying for accommodation and food to perform in a basement in front of 50 people, ask yourself: Is it worth it?
I would suggest that you ask producers to at least cover your travel expenses even if you’re an absolute beginner. Think about it this way: If they sell tickets to a show, they will earn money from it so why would you work for free so someone else can make money?
And not under any circumstances would I ever recommend to pay applications fees for an event or festival. It is a producer’s job to cast for a show and you don’t need to pay in order to perform, especially not, if they make money from ticket sales.
There is a couple of situations where performing for free can make sense. Firstly, a student showcase of your dance/burlesque school (this is how I made my debut and it was an awesome experience) and secondly competitions if it's a reputable competition (e.g.: the 'Legends in the Making' competitions at the Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival.
If you have any additional tips or questions, feel free to leave a comment!