Getting into Burlesque: Part 5

Ladies & gentleman… it’s showtime! Tonight will see the results of all your hard work (hours of crafting, choreographing, rehearsing) finally realised onstage. If you come from another performance background, you may find that similar rules apply, but if you’re new to the world of the stage, here are a few tips and suggestions on what to expect at your first event…

Backstage Etiquette

There are no hard and fast rules concerning performer conduct at shows and things will differ from event to event. However, you’ll often find yourself in cramped quarters with limited space (and mirrors!) playing a giant version of Jenga as you try to stack everyone’s suitcases and props out of the way, to leave enough space to get changed. So when you’re backstage, try to remember:

a) Be polite and friendly to the other performers and crew, there’s nothing worse than a bad vibe backstage

b) Respect other people’s space and time backstage; if it’s your first show, you may well be super-excited and want nothing more than to share your excitement and chat with those around you. But remember, you’re all here to do a job at the end of the day, and some performers just enjoy some peace and quiet when they’re getting ready and they don’t want to be bombarded with questions and stories. Judge accordingly and try to strike a good balance between a) and b)

c) Don’t get drunk before you go onstage; you’d think this would be a given, but common sense dictates that you don’t get so hammered you risk falling offstage! Some shows provide a rider (with or without alcohol, depending in the venue) but be sensible if booze is on offer and save the celebratory drinks for afterwards

d) Once you’ve done your act, if you can, get packed up quickly and if possible / if it’s appropriate, leave the dressing room to make space for those who still have to change and go on

e) Don’t hog the mirror space! A definite no-no in the burlesque backstage. If it’s feasible, do some of your hair and makeup before arrival and try to be courteous and share the space with your fellow performers, everyone else needs to get ready too!

Stage Fright

One of the toughest things to overcome at your first show is stage fright. Be it some small jittery nerves or the full-on “I’m so scared I’m gonna puke before I go onstage”, most people will experience some form of stage fright, unless they are very experienced and / or self-confident.
Again, there’s no strict rules or secrets to overcoming this and often it’s a very personal matter. But try to remember: you chose this show because it seemed like a nice, welcoming place to start and burlesque audiences are some of the most vocal and encouraging of all types of stage shows, so they will be behind you.
Also, you’re only up there for 3-5 minutes, which is nothing in the grand scheme of things! You’ve worked very hard for this show and you have to have faith in your abilities, to put that hard work to good use as you unveil your act. Let go of your inhibitions and become your onstage character, immerse yourself in the experience and most of all, enjoy yourself!

After the first show

Quicker than you know it, your debut will be over. What’s next? Depending on the event you’ve done, it might be possible to ask for feedback, which can be useful in looking at ways to improve your act and where you might want to take your character in future. But none of that matters just now, as you’ve now conquered your fears and popped your ‘burlesque cherry’, so grab a glass of bubbly and say cheers!