Getting into Burlesque: Part 4

So, the time has come… You’ve chosen your name, created your onstage persona, selected some music, added costume and choreography and you’ve rehearsed so much that you could do your routine in your sleep! But what next? It can only be one thing… time to apply for your first event!

Choosing your first show

Burlesque has grown infinitely in the last decade. Ten years ago, you might have been hard pushed to find a local show accepting new performers. However, today there are lots of events across the country, many of which offer ‘newbie’ slots or are sometimes a showcase event entirely for new performers.
If you’ve been attending a class, that’s a good starting point. Your teacher might be able to point you in the direction of a local promoter or venue that does events. Some classes even end a block of lessons with a special showcase event for those in the class – for example, in our Edinburgh burlesque classes, students perform at the Dance Base Christmas Show annually and sometimes at ad hoc events during the year.
There are also various Facebook groups established by burlesque performers themselves and are used to share castings, upcoming show details and more and are well worth joining, just to see what’s on in your area. Here are a few examples:

Scottish Burlesque & Cabaret:
Burlesque Jobs
Global burlesque jobs / opportunities:
The Burlesque Exchange:

Before you start sending off applications, do a search on any prospective events / promoters – don’t go in blind! There are two reasons behind this:
It helps to know who you’re contacting, what kind of show they run etc; after all, there’s no point in submitting a subversive, neo-burlesque piece set to modern music to a classic show – that’s just common sense!

The second reason to do your research on a show before applying is also obvious: is the event / promoter reputable? Find what other performers or audience members have to say about an event or promoter. How is their show regarded within the scene? Do they treat their performers well? Are their shows well-organised, advertised and overall an enjoyable experience for performers and audience?

Applying to Casting Calls: Performer / Promoter Etiquette

When applying to a casting call, remember that your email to the promoter will be their first impression of you so make sure it’s a good one!
Be polite and professional-sounding, answer any and all questions in the original casting (some promoters receive so many applications for events, they will often automatically disregard incomplete applications so make be certain you answer everything that’s asked!)
If the casting requests photos or video footage, make sure you include these. However, if it’s your first show you might not have footage (unless you can have someone film the act for you at home, which might be better than nothing). If you’re applying as a newcomer, any good promoter within the scene will take this into account when reviewing castings for their shows.

That brings us to the end of Part 4 of ‘Getting into Burlesque’. Next week we’ll be looking at backstage etiquette, dealing with stage fright and nerves and making your stage debut!

Read: Getting into Burlesque: Part 5