Monday, 20 January 2014

The Secrets of Burlesque

Since the 1990s the popularity of burlesque has been on the rise. But what is it about the delicate art of tease that has us hooked?

In an interview in The Guardian in 2011 burlesque star Dita Von Teese explained that: “you can’t dictate to a woman what should make her feel sexy” (watch the full article here). There is no doubt that part of burlesque’s appeal lies in the way it allows an individual to explore what beauty and glamour means to them. Exploring the makeup, accessories, lingerie, corsets and jewellery, like those featured by Burlesque Dolls, is all part of the fun. You can even share it with your friends by hosting a Burlesque party or hens’ do.

There are no rules in burlesque, you don’t have to be tanned, or skinny, or blonde. And whilst there is no doubt it is about striptease, this is an art form that puts much more emphasis on the tease than the strip.

So, what are the secrets of a successful burlesque performance?


Confidence is key
Leading burlesque teachers and performers like The World Famous Bob (famous for mixing martinis with her cleavage) and Legs Malone, cite body confidence as the most important factor. Burlesque is open to all sizes and shapes and provides a safe space to explore and express.

Learning to love the body you’re in is easier said than done. It’s a process, and the first step is to ditch patterns of thought that are destructive and lower confidence. Most of us don’t even realise that every day we bombard ourselves with downbeat chatter. This kind of negative ‘self-talk’ reinforces unhelpful thoughts we hold about ourselves. Burlesque performers have learned to dismiss these thoughts and stop feeding their insecurities. They reject prescriptive views on what beauty is and appreciate their physical form.

And if that seems like an impossible task, just remember that even the pros have to work at it. Even Dita, who told Bwatt Magazine, “Just like everyone else, I am not always confident, I have all the same self-doubt. I just try to love myself and accept things that I don’t like about myself. It’s about learning to love those things too.”

Take it slow
The skill of seduction is in not rushing things. American burlesque pioneer Gypsy Rose Lee became famous for her striptease act in the 1920s and 30s. Her casual strip style has influenced many modern performers with its emphasis on making the audience savour the experience. In some ways burlesque is the opposite of sex. The latter is all about satisfying desire and gratification. The former is about creating desire as well as building tension and anticipation. It’s the gift, before it’s been unwrapped.

Establish a signature look
Whether it’s trademark bright red lipstick, peacock feathers, a beauty spot, lace and leather, or a particular choreography of moves, burlesque provides an opportunity to experiment and figure out what works for you. The most popular burlesque acts know what suits them and what makes them feel glamorous and confident. They might push the boundaries by introducing new accessories or themes, but most have a developed personal style that stands the test of time.

This article was written by Amanda Walters, an experienced freelance writer and regular contributor to Huffington Post. Follow her here: @Amanda_W84

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