how to perform burlesque How-to-Perform-Burlesque

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So to get your body moving and start learning some sexy steps.  These DVDs provided some great moves that you can incorporate into your Burlesque routine.  

Click on the image for a preview or to purchase.
Here are some more super fun Exotic Dance Tutorials.  They provide tons of great moves and inspiration!
How to Perform Burlesque
In the world of Burlesque anything goes.  From high end glamor to raunchy comedy;  Burlesque encompasses it all.

Learning to perform Burlesque is really about self exploration and expression.  Developing your own style comes from cultivating different aspects of yourself and mustering the courage to put it out there.

One of the things that makes the stars of this genre stand out, is that they have a definable persona.  They are cheeky, glamorous, hilarious, skilled dancers, or goofy comedians.  They have developed a look and style that makes them unique and genuine. 

Another thing that makes a performer shine is stage presence. This is a quality that emanates from within and grabs the audience's attention.  Although this quality is something that a performer either has or doesn't have, it can be cultivated.  Stage presence can be developed and improved with experience and practice.  Confidence comes from skills, experience and an ability to overcome nerves.  It comes from the strong desire to give something to the world.
Jo Weldon is the founder and headmistress of the New York School of Burlesque. She is amazing.  Here are some great books and DVDs that she offers.  What she teaches, every Burlesque performer should know.
Our favorite Burlesque inspired workout DVDs!
Get in shape and inspired!
Check out this CD for great music to inspire your classic Burlesque routine!
This book is an invaluable manual on all aspects of being a Cabaret performer.  From creative advise to practical business how to's.  Super helpful for the performer!
​Another starting point can be a piece of music that inspires you.   When a particular song moves us, it literally moves us!  The choreography comes out of our interpretation of the music and lyrics.  These aspects can help with costume ideas and props.  For example, if you really love "jail house rock"  then prison bars could become a great stage prop.  Costumes could be and orange jump suit that comes off revelaing a sexy black and white striped outfit.  The moves could be Elvis - esque.  
Getting Started

Putting together a Burlesque routine can be super fun.  Once you have your inspiration, your routine will unfold.  

The initial inspiration can come from you character:  for example if your stage name is "Betsy Bubbles" (if there is a Betsy Bubbles out there let me know!); then your routine could revolve around blowing bubbles or using a bubble machine.  This could be the inspiration for the costuming, music and choreography. 
Another great way to start is to decide on a theme, and let the theme guide the decision making.  For example; space travel and aliens can be a theme.  Selecting approriate music, costumes and props would revolve around depicting this theme. 

Similarly, a story could inspire a burlesque piece.  Choose a famous story that we all know such as little red riding hood; or creating your own story with a beginning, middle and end.
Yet another way to kick off the creative process is to find inspiration in a particular costume.  When a costume is so fabulous, it speaks for itself.
Burlesque Performance Tips

Here are some things to be aware of from the top down.  

Facial Expression.  What's happening with your face can make or break a number.  Always be aware of what your are doing with your face.  Are you smiling, smouldering, or making a goofy expression.  Whatever lends itself to your look and number; be sure that you keep your face in sync with the routine. Make the movements of your face and head deliberate.  For example, looking down can be coy and alluring if done with intention;  but if you're looking down because of nerves or losing the choreography it looks terrible. 

Neck and Shoulders.  A woman's chin, neck, shoulder's and decolletage are extremely alluring.  Keep your neck long and your shoulders back and down for an elegant sexy look.  Shimmy shimmy!

Arms and Hands.  A person can tell and entire story with their hands.  As a burlesque performer always be aware of what your arms and hands are doing.  Energize your hands and arms.  Make sure you have follow through with your movements and finish each arm movement right through to your fingers. Check out The Art of the Glove page for advise on how to take off your gloves. 

Torso.  Well a lot of the focus is here, with corseted waists and cleavage.  Work it. Engage your core for connected movement.  Twist your torso in the opposite direction of your hips to create sexy lines.  A great cleavage tip is to duct tape the girls together beneath your corset. This way no matter what happens with your movement and your corset, the cleavage stays in place. If you are going down to pasties, check out the Pasties page and the Tassel Twirling page for tips.

Hips.  Yes well a lot of the focus is here too.  A woman's hips can be a great source of power.  Use it.  Bump and Grind  the hips (desribed in a little more detail above under "terminology')  Rocking and swaying the hips to the music is fun, easy and pretty much a standard for any Burlesque routine.  Keeping the hips at an angle in relationship to the torso during poses gives the body a great shape.  

Legs and Feet.  No matter what size or shape your legs are, they are beautiful and should always have energy and intention in your movement and poses.  It is very feminine to stand with your knees together and one foot cocked at the ankle. This is the pose of Venus in Botticelli's famous "Birth of Venus" painting wherein she's floating on a half shell. Unless you are bending your knees for a movement, keep you legs energized, straight and strong.  Week knees in a standing pose look just that, week.  Unless you are intentionally flexing your feet,  point them during kicks and steps.  The feet should be the punctuation of any leg movement. 

​Some Other Tips.  Caress you own body.  The audience gets to vicariously enjoy that by watching you.  Look at what you want the audience to look at.  For example, if you are focusing on your hand while taking off your glove, it will influence the audience to do the same.  Engage the audience.  Look at them and draw them in with your eyes.  Each member of your audience should feel that you are performing for  him or her.  
Burlesque Terminology

Swan Pose:  One arm is held straight up above the head with the hand bent at the wrist; fingers energized. The body is in a sexy pose, typically angled with one leg bent.  The other arm can be above the head, bent at the elbow, touching the straight arm.

Candy Shelf:  Legs are strong and supportive while the dancer dives down with the top of the head. Upon reaching the bottom of the range of motion, the dancer leads the body back up with the top of the head, arching the back and lengthening the neck.  

Bump and Grind.  Grinding is a hip roll.  The dancer shifts the hips to one side and in a smooth motion rolls them through to the back, other side and front, or in reverse.  A bump is a quick thrust to the side, back or front.
Confidence.  The most attractive quality a person can have.  Own it.  Be it.  Audience members at a Burlesque show are there to be entertained.  Chances are they are going to love you!  So don't hold back.  Give the audience what they want and they will reward with yells, whistles and applause.  Soak it up and give it back!
Refined Sugar is a program that teaches burlesque dance steps.  Walks, turns and sexy movements.  Click on the image below to get the best deal on this instantly downloadable program. Within it you will find tons of moves to develop your Burlesque vocabulary and start putting routines together right away!