From Being a Fan To Becoming a Star: Starting Out In Burlesque

Posted by Missi Hathaway On July - 19 - 20137,142 views

For some people, appreciating burlesque shows – as art, as entertainment, as an engaging fandom – is as far as their involvement needs to go. For others, seeing their first burlesque show is a revelation: they too could be on stage, harnessing their own creativity and passion for the benefit of an audience. Burlesque can lead down many roads, from confidence-building hobby to becoming a genuine star, but no matter where you want to go with your art you have to start at the beginning. By cultivating the basics, you’ll give yourself a leg up into the community you’re looking for.

Circulate And Hobnob

Burlesque is a community made up of many different personalities, subcultures, and goals. This blending and blurring can make easing into the scene an intimidating prospect, but – like with any community – meeting new people is often as easy as staying passionate and friendly. Attend any local shows you can and try to meet everyone from the performers to the fans. Almost everyone has a story to tell, and these stories can be goldmines of useful information on everything from available classes to surviving stage fright. If your city or town doesn’t have a burlesque community, you still might not be alone. To find like-minded fans, check online for interest groups, talk to regulars in the wider alternative community, and consider joining a dance class or two (see below). Even if you’re just starting out, your interest might be the driving force behind a new community! It’s also important to look into the long and storied history of burlesque, from the stars to its changing styles and values.

Moving And Shaking

As a physical artform, burlesque requires talent and practice. While it’s possible to learn the moves alone in your bedroom, it’s easier – and more fun – to do your learning in person. If your city has a burlesque community, you might be able to find specialized classes taught by experienced dancers. Some of these classes are based out of dance studios or gyms, although gym classes are often geared towards saucy exercising rather than performing. (Even if you’re looking for something different, talk to the instructor; they might have advice on where to find performance-oriented classes.) If there are no burlesque classes available, don’t give up! Many other dance styles – like jazz, Broadway, and pole dancing – lend themselves to burlesque, and your performance will be richer for having these skills in your back pocket. Broadway is particularly useful, as choreographer legend Bob Fosse was partially inspired by burlesque dancing. You might also be able to track down like-minded individuals at some of these classes, as burlesque’s fanbase is spread far and wide.Sex_At_The_Circus_Burlesque_14 (1)

Dressing The Part

One of the joys of the burlesque revival is its emphasis on personal creativity and style. Although there are trends and familiar styles in burlesque performance, the final choice is yours. This means that the base of your costume – particularly in the beginning – can often be your existing wardrobe, modified by a few additions You don’t need to spend a fortune to look like one, either. Talk to other performers about their costume tricks, scour magazines and the internet for inspiration (this can come in the unlikeliest of places), and dedicate a few afternoons to hitting up all the vintage and thrift stores in your area. If you’re looking for a specific costume or piece, record your measurements and try looking online. It can be stressful buying clothing without trying it on, but reputable dealers will have easy-to-use return policies. Once you have your costume down pat, treat it nicely and take particular care of your vintage items.

Perfecting Your Art

With the basics – community, skills, and costume – down, everything from this point on is a matter of determination, talent, and lots of practice. From here, newly emerging burlesque dancers must learn everything from choreographing routines to finding the best places to perform in their city. It’s also important to keep learning and trying new things, no matter how far you go. Recruit supportive friends to advise you on your routines, tweak minor gestures that only you’ll notice, band together with other fledgling dancers, and do your best to get into the spotlight; with luck, passion, and support, it just might be possible.


One Response to “From Being a Fan To Becoming a Star: Starting Out In Burlesque”

  1. […] and triumphant, it’s likely to be fair game. Yet this lack of rules can also be overwhelming, particularly for fledgling performers. Working in a space of true freedom takes effort and self-understanding, but there are some tricks […]

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