Bubblybrunette's Blog

Bubbles, burlesque and all things fancy

Ten things I learned from my first burlesque performance

with 7 comments

Last night I gave my first burlesque performance in front of a sellout crowd of 300 people (including my husband, sister, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, friends and supporters). I was just one act in a three-hour long show, and I spent less than four minutes on the stage. But what I learned will stay with me for a long time. Some is applicable only to burlesque performers, but most are valuable lessons for all of life:

1. SMILE. Yes, you’re in your underwear. Yes, there are drunk men yelling “show us your box!” Yes, your feet are killing you. Yes, your false eyelashes are itching like crazy. Yes, you’re trying to remember to stick out your chest, suck in your stomach AND all the steps to your routine. And, yes, the spotlight is like a solar flare aimed directly at your retina. NONE of that matters. You’re the one on stage, and the audience wants to know you’re enjoying yourself. So smile dammit and thank your lucky stars that you get the chance to be up there!

2. You can never have too much glitter. Never. If you’re not sparkling like a human disco ball then you’re not wearing enough.

3. Be polite to everyone – audience, performers, the people working the concession stand – everyone. This is applicable in daily life, but even more so if you’re performing. You can never be sure who you’re speaking with and what role they might end up playing in your life. Be gracious, and leave a good impression.

4. Learn from your mistakes, but don’t beat yourself up. As a first-timer, I have no doubt I was the most unpolished performer on the stage. And as I watched the more seasoned dancers, I made a nearly endless mental list of things I could do better during my next performance. But, at the same time, I gave myself credit for what I had accomplished. Less than 10 years ago, I was an agoraphobic who barely left my house. I didn’t drive a car for two years, and I was so self-conscious I couldn’t speak to strangers. Now, I was dancing onstage in front of a few hundred people. Of course it could have been better (and, in time, it will be), but the very fact I did it at all was cause for celebration.

5. A glass of champagne before the show is okay – a bottle isn’t. There’s nothing wrong with a little liquid courage, but no one wants to pay to see a drunk girl dancing. You can get that for free in any club 🙂

6. Do as much prep work as possible. You never know what kind of dressing facilities are going to be available at a venue (there were 10 of us crammed into an office barely larger than my bathroom). The more you have done ahead of time – hair, makeup – the less you’ll have to stress when you get there.

7. Practice, practice, practice. Yes, it’s a cliche, but it’s a cliche for a very good reason. You want to know your routine so well that you can do it in your sleep. That way, once you’re up on stage, no matter what happens (lighting problems, monitor issues, stage fright, drunken catcalls, etc …) you’ll know – at the very least – you can hit your marks, do the right steps at the right time, and look as professional as possible. It also allows you to …

8. Improvise as necessary. Paradoxically, the more polished and rehearsed your routine is, the more it allows you to go with the flow and adjust your performance to suit the mood of the audience and your own desires. When you know your dance like the back of your hand, straying from it isn’t so scary.

9. Bring a cheering section. Truth be told, I didn’t intend for anyone I knew (except my husband) to be at the show. That way, I thought, if I screw up big time no one will know about it. But, as word of the show got out, people I knew began to find out I was in it. By the time I got on stage, I had family, friends, students and acquaintances all there cheering for me like the home team at a football game. And it felt great! Instead of simply trying to not make a mistake, their cheers spurred me on to do my very best.

10. And, finally, feel the fear and do it anyway. The most courageous person isn’t the one who isn’t scared. The most courageous person is the one who feels the fear and still goes through with it (“it” could be a presentation, a performance, a job interview or a first kiss). When I was standing backstage and the emcee began reading my introduction, I honestly thought I was going to faint. Getting from there, up the steps and into the spotlight is still a blur to me. But I did it. And that’s what’s important to me. No matter where I go from here, I’ll never have to regret not attempting to perform because I was too afraid.

So there’s my list – I’m sure it’s different for every performer. But, as life experiences go, this was right up there with the best of them. I’m eternally grateful to have had it and am already planing for more. What a wonderful place to be!

Vid capture of my first public performance


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Written by bubblybrunette

January 18, 2010 at 5:34 am

Posted in Uncategorized

7 Responses

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  1. Yay, Rebecca!! You did SUCH an amazing job. Neither Hala nor I could believe it was your first time up on stage. You looked like a seasoned pro (and I don’t mean the kind of pro that gets arrested on Law and Order, which is totally just like real cop life, right?). And best of all, you really looked like you were having the time of your life up on stage – your happiness and positivity just radiated throughout the theater. Good job, girl!

    K

    January 18, 2010 at 3:18 pm

  2. Way to go Grace! You did an excellent job and looked like a natural. Also, LOVE your outfit choice for this particular performance. Black and leopard print is EXTREMELY Bettie Page-ish. You did great!

    groovehouse

    January 18, 2010 at 3:29 pm

  3. This is a *great* list. Especially N° 2. Although I would add “eat something before you go on stage.”

    My pre-performance snack: Banana (for potasium to stop potential muscle cramps) and bread/crackers (to calm the nervous tummy).

    Gentry de Paris

    January 18, 2010 at 4:11 pm

  4. Awesome job last night! I would have never known it was your first show!

    Robert

    January 18, 2010 at 4:46 pm

  5. That’s so awesome Rebecca! I’m so proud of you! I know you probably did so great. That pictures looks fabulous…look at those gams! Way to go!

    Virginia

    January 18, 2010 at 4:56 pm

  6. I was so proud of you! You did an amazing job, and this blog post is just proof that your on the right track to a fabulous performance career!

    G. Valentine

    January 19, 2010 at 6:43 am

  7. Hey lady! You did an amazing job and I’m so glad you could be a part of the show. What a way to debut as a performer! I’ll take a class next time I’m in town.
    Hugs! Coco

    Coco Lectric

    January 19, 2010 at 2:49 pm


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