Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Learning Burlesque from Films

Many of the performers of the neo-burlesque movement in the 1990s didn't have many live burlesque shows to go to, and often learned burlesque moves by looking at vintage photographs and watching old clips of burlesque performers.

Performers who've learned from those films frequently comment that they had to learn to adjust the timing. It's a caveat of watching these old clips that the dancers are rarely performing to the music in the clips, which is usually overdubbed. The reasons for this vary, but are usually related to either the technology of silent film recording or the expense of acquiring music rights.
Performers also did their best to contact legends and ask for their advice and coaching, and to attend the Burlesque Hall of Fame Striptease Reunion when it was at Exotic World in the middle of the Mojave Desert. (See Michelle Carr's interview with Liz Renay

Fortunately, today we have opportunities to see these classic ladies of burlesque perform live in the more easily accessed city of Las Vegas, and to take classes with them at events such as this past weekend's Burlesque Hall of Fame Striptease Reunion ( and October's Burlycon ( We can see their exquisite timing and ability to respond to the audience in person, in a way we can never see on film, whether the music is right or no.

So this is my teacher tip for June: When learning burlesque moves from film, always remember that your choice of music will affect your timing and the way you do the moves. As with all other aspects of burlesque performance, individuality and audience awareness are key, even when tributing the classics! Always take the time to rehearse and make those moves your own.

--Jo Weldon
New York School of Burlesque


burlesque performer said...

thanks for this!.. enjoyed the vid.

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