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How to become a burlesque performer

7 april 2020

I was 16 years old when I was introduced to burlesque for the first time at a party in Amsterdam. I knew right away, this is what I want to do, become a professional burlesque artist. Here are some tips to do burlesque yourself!

It was 2007, I was 16 years young and it was one of the first burlesque parties in Amsterdam. I didn’t know anything about burlesque I just really liked the flyer. And as soon as I walked in the place I was sold! Everyone was beautifully dressed in 1950 style, gorgeous strong girls were performing and the music was uplifting. I knew I had to become one of these girls and I started looking for the producer. I told him: ‘I want to get on that stage and you need to help me.’ He started laughing and told me that it was impossible for a 16-year-old girl to start a career as a burlesque performer. I didn’t see the problem and kept convincing him to help me. So we exchanged email addresses. A few days later our house telephone rang, it was Marco, the burlesque producer. I was a little in shock because I couldn’t remember giving him my phone number. But then he told me that his friends had a baby around 16 years ago and named her Fay! And yes, you guessed it, that was me. From that moment on he started helping me getting into the very small burlesque scene in Amsterdam. And my parent’s were fine with it because they knew and trusted him. Of course I had to wait till I was 18 to legally preform so I had some time to prepare myself.

 

How to prepare yourself!

First off let me start by telling that burlesque is for all ages, races, genders and sizes. It doesn’t matter who you are, just that you like to entertain. These are the tips I would give anyone wanting to start a career as a performer.

1. Go watch a lot of shows
Don’t only go to burlesque shows, also go to theatre plays, opera, dance performances etc.

2. Read about the history of burlesque
Start learning as much as you can about burlesque, this will also help you develop your own style.

3. Take burlesque lessons and/or workshops
Look for a burlesque school or take workshops. Raisalila in Amsterdam and Club Burlesque in Antwerp offer really good lessons. Besides learning burlesque you will meet likeminded people.

4. Find your own signature style in burlesque.
There are so many different burlesque styles. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
I’m specialised in classic burlesque. But there is so much more to do!

5. Use you special skill.
Can you already sing, tap-dance or have any other skill? Use it at burlesque!

6. Start as a stage kitten
A stage kitten is someone who prepares the stage for the next performer and cleans it again after. It’s a great way to learn about performing and getting to know other burlesque artists. I also worked as a stage kitten when I just started!

7. Invest in your costumes
Invest time and money into creating your costumes. Make them yourself or buy something you can adjust to your own size and style. Make them stand out and unique!

8. Don’t expect a very high payment when you’re just starting
At most events there are special fees for beginners and headliners.

9. Have fun!!!!
The most important is that you have fun and feel confident.