I grew up with a love for technicolor musicals from the golden age of Hollywood and was raised with a dance background that carried through my twenties. The first time I stepped into the spotlight and performed burlesque, I was hooked. It was a gorgeous glittering tornado of all that I loved, from choreography, to costuming, to the best part, making people smile! It changed the course of my life, and luckily became a full time career that’s taken me around the world.
Oh my goodness, that’s a super tough question with so many possible answers!Where to start?! Well, burlesque, or any kind of physical performance art, is a full time job. It doesn’t go from 9-5 when the whistle blows, it starts from the moment I wake, and often ends up filling my head once it hits the pillow.
To perform full time for a living (without a secondary job) takes hustle, dedication to perfecting your craft, some sacrifice (eating ramen so you can buy more rhinestones!), and the ability to market yourself, because no one else will do it for you. You are your own boss lady. I think these aspects can be challenging for some performers that want to bridge that gap from hobbyist to full time showgirl.
It can often look easy and effortless when watching a professional performer do their act on stage, but there are hundreds of hours behind those three minutes that it took to get there. Another challenging aspect that ties into this is knowing your worth as a performer when it comes to compensation, which means there are some jobs you’ll need to say no to, though it can be super tempting when there’s those occasional dry spells.
Just keep in mind that saying no to some things that don’t quite fit will just open the door to other gigs that are a big Y.E.S.!
Practice. Practice until your feet swell, and you feel like hearing your song on repeat one more time might make you scoop your eardrums out with a spoon! Practice until you can remove your costumes blindfolded and backwards. It’s that 100th time of running a number that you’ll learn the hook on your dress catches in your nylons when you do your special shimmy – better in the bedroom than on stage.
Know the history of your craft, there’s endless resources out there now, filled with so much inspiration! But, my number one piece of advice would be to always remember, your number one priority on that stage isn’t you, it’s your audience! Our job, in it’s simplest form, is to entertain. Those few moments of pure glamour and escapism can turn someone’s day around, make them smile, feel inspired, and leave them with a full experience they’ll remember, there’s nothing more magical than that!
The most incredible bits of being in this community are the lifelong friendships I’ve formed with other incredible performers, and the travel! I’ve gotten to drive across the U.S. countless times, which can lead to amazing adventures you’d never expect.
I’d have to say my burlesque icon would be burlesque legend, Tiffany Carter. She’s become like a mom to me, I truly value her knowledge and love hearing her stories! Her experience working in the industry is incredibly fascinating and inspiring. Tiffany has been deaf most of her life, and holy moly, is she a fantastic dancer! She’s never let any obstacle hold her back. If you’re not familiar with her story I highly suggest looking her up, or attending one of her workshops. She’s the best!