Burlesque: Dealing with Stage Fright – Part 1

When you start out in burlesque, it’s very common to suffer from some pre-show nerves. Whether it’s just a few jitters or full blown stage fright, it can strike at any time and can be one of the most difficult and frustrating issues to overcome. If you come from a performing background, you might be lucky enough to already be clued up on some tricks for dealing with your anxiety but if not, we thought we’d put together a guide on how to ease your stress and deal with your nervousness before you go onstage.

Practise until you know your routine in your sleep
You might think this goes without saying, but we can’t stress the importance of practising your routine until you know it inside out, especially if you’re entirely new to performing. You’ll have enough to worry about on the day when you make your debut, so don’t add to your stress by having to worry about remembering bits of your act because you haven’t rehearsed properly. If you feel happy, comfortable and familiar with your routine, it will show onstage when you perform. Familiarise yourself with the music so that you always know where you are time wise when performing so if anything does go wrong you’ll know how to fix it. Which brings us to…

Learning how to improvise
Sometimes things just go wrong. It doesn’t matter how well you’ve prepared, the nature of burlesque as a live entertainment form means that things can and do go wrong. But it’s not the end of the world. Every experienced performer out there has had it happen to them at some point; from musical glitches (playing the wrong track, CD skipping etc) to having a costume piece get stuck to falling on your butt in the middle of the stage, we’ve all been there! It can seem like the worst thing in the world as a new performer, but it’s about how you deal with it that matters. Some things simply can’t be hidden when they go wrong, but whatever you do, don’t fall to pieces onstage. Laugh it off, incorporate it into the act, make a professional and smooth recovery; whatever it takes. Improvisation is a tricky skill and not one that can be practised in your room when you’re perfecting your routine. Like grazing your knee when you fell off learning to ride your bike, it will sting like hell at the time, but you’ll get over it, get back up and try again.

Be organised, punctual and avoid last-minute stresses
Nervousness can come not only from the scary thought of going onstage, but from added stresses around you.If you’re running late, can’t find a piece of costume etc then you’re adding unnecessary stress for yourself. Combat this by being super-organised – pack your costume, props and music nice and early. You might find it useful to use a checklist to make sure you have everything. Always leave plenty of time to get to the venue, in case traffic or other things outwith your control cause you any delays. Not having to panic about these things means one less thing to rattle your nerves.

That brings us to the end of this week’s blog, but we’ll be back next week with Part 2 of Burlesque: Dealing with Stage Fright when we’ll be looking at some tips and tricks to help you out on the night of the show.

In the meantime, if you’re new to burlesque and looking for some more general tips and advice, why not check out our previous blog series Getting Into Burlesque.