Ladies and gents. A few recent burlesque experiences have made me itch to get this out of my head and onto paper. I don't cook - or bake, really - but I do really like eating cake. Hence - burlesque is like a sexy cake that requires 4 main ingredients:
1/4 nudity/social revolution
1/4 Dance. Dance can generally be defined as the rhythmic movement to music. All of those words are so key that you couldn't possibly pull any of them out. Rhythmic: so important. Movement: please, do not just stand there! TO music - yes, you are not only moving rhythmically, you are moving rhythmically to the music that you are performing to.
1/4 Nudity/Social Revolution. Yes, a huge part of burlesque is about shimmying, shaking and loving what your mama gave you. We know that most burlesque performances will end in pasties - but please, ladies. Don't be fooled. Your audience is NOT there to see your boobs - I mean, really, you can see those anywhere these days. They are there to see revolution! They are to see your social, political and cultural commentaries. They are there in that audience because you've promised them that you have something worthwhile to tell them. In other words, they are there to experience a story. Which brings me to...
1/4 Performance. Burlesque is an intricately choreographed performance. In brief, I would argue that being a good live burlesque performance artist means being present and engaged in the moment (in that place, space, time) with your piece and your audience. You need to captivate your audience, so that they can't take their eyes off you, and then skillfully drawing their attention to what you want them to see.
1/4 Wit. Did you know that the word "burlesque" comes from the Italian burlesco, which itself comes from the Italian burla – a joke, ridicule or mockery (thanks Wiki!). Burlesque is, historically, a striptease with a strong element of parody or humour - at times crass, tongue-in-cheek, or lighthearted. I would argue that the current burlesque is very much an investigation, dismantling and poking fun of what our current culture defines as "feminine", a way of making commentaries on what "should" or "shouldn't" be seen. In other words, I want my brain to be moved (or tickled) when I watch burlesque.
When I see a burlesque piece missing even one of these 4 ingredients I DON'T WANT TO EAT THE CAKE. But oh god, do I looooooove me a really good cake. M-hmm. So bake me, your audience (and yourself) a really scrumptious one.
Updated Jan 2015