When you are preparing for your Burlesque performances, it’s easy to think only of the things you need to do for your Burlesque routine:
- Pick a song
- Create a character
- Choreograph your number
- Design a costume
- Design your lighting
But it’s just as important to consider what NOT to do! Here are the top mistakes I see newbies, and even some seasoned dancers, making when they craft a new performance piece.
1. Practicing without your shoes. Unless you are performing barefoot, you shouldn’t be practicing barefoot, at least, not every time. Sure, when you are working out the kinks, it can be nice to practice your routine in athletic shoes or bare feet, but when it comes to perfecting your number, you need to practice in your actual footwear. A lot can change between bare feet and stilettos, or bare feet and pointe shoes! Be prepared, or prepare to fall on your face.
2. Practice without your costume. Much like practicing in your shoes, you absolutely MUST practice in your costume! Do you have tear-away clothing? Sticky fabric? A complicated on-stage costume change? How will you know what to expect when things go wrong, if you’ve never actually practiced in costume?
Case in point, I once had a chair dance routine that relied on me sliding around, which I found absolutely impossible while wearing the sticky leather pants I had originally planned. After just one costumed rehearsal, I made a complete lower body costume redesign! Do you think I would have wanted to discover that on stage? I don’t think so.
Practice in costume!
3. Practice without your props. Ok, it might sound obvious, but if you are crawling out of a giant clam shell while wearing a fish tail, maybe you should practice first? Pantomiming will only get you so far. Sometimes you need to get down on your hands and knees (or tail) and try these things out.
4. Use glitter or water without disclosing it. Special water or liquid effects and glitter can really make a number “pop,” but if you don’t inform the production crew, you are creating more problems than you know!
For example, let’s say your routine involved spraying yourself with champagne and then hurling a bucket of glitter in the air. Great! But the next act is an acrobatic roller skate number and now the stage has to be completely washed down before the show can continue. The producers might have appreciated knowing everything that was going down before they made the show order, right?
Also, some theatres specifically prohibit the use of these props (with good reason), so double check before you plan your number. Just something to consider.
BONUS: And don’t change anything after Tech Rehearsal!
5. Wing it. Are you choreographing in the car on the way to the theatre? Uh…you better not be! Do I even have to explain why this is a no-no? I didn’t think so.
Burlesque is a performance, an art. When people come to watch a show, they are expecting a show! So, give them a Burlesque routine that’s well-rehearsed, well-planned, and exceptional in every way you can offer.
Now go get ‘em!