Last week we welcomed you into the world of burlesque with some tips on getting started, burlesque dance classes and finding out what’s already out there on the UK and worldwide burlesque scene. This week, we’re moving on to the next step: creating your persona, finding your style and choosing your stage name.
Who do you want to be?
The burlesque world is full of all kinds of characters with a massive range of styles. From cheesecake cuties to Victorian vamps, from comedic duos reminiscent of the old slapstick style to political burlesque where the aim is to get a message across. There are those who base their shows around the sheer opulence of their props and costumes, and those who focus more on the strength of their personality and performance style to set them apart from their peers.
The first thing to note is that via burlesque, you can be what you want to be! Get creative… inspiration can be taken from existing hobbies and passions, or from new ideas, from your own experiences to your interpretation of larger ideas and themes. Consider what it is you want to do onstage; do you have a message? Do you wish to simply dazzle via the visual medium? Do you want to make people laugh? Do you wish to portray yourself as vampy? Rock? The classic 50s pin-up girl? All of these are key questions when shaping your burlesque persona and choosing your pseudonym. Obviously your style may develop over time and you may find that you need to alter your persona and goals accordingly, but that’s all part of the journey as a performer: discovering yourself through your performances.
Choosing Your Name
Quite possibly one of the hardest tasks when starting out as a burlesque dancer is choosing your stage name – who are you going to be onstage? Bear in mind your name will often be the first thing people know of you when they see you on a line-up.
Here are some suggestions…
*See what’s out there already – the burlesque scene is constantly growing, make sure someone else isn’t using the name already.
*Avoid the most commonly-used names – you would think this is a given, but there are some words / names that have saturated the burlesque community and are best avoided. If you are really keen to make a name for yourself in burlesque, choose something different! Don’t go with the obvious, clichéd monikers, but choose something unique to you, that will make you stand out.
*Nickname – if you’re lucky enough to have a catchy nickname already, you’re already there, or halfway at least! If the nickname fits the persona you wish to portray then you’re onto a winner.
Of course there are lots of ways to find your ‘burlesque alter-ego’ and define your persona. As burlesque is such a varied art form, you can take your inspiration from anywhere, but hopefully these suggestions will help you get started!