We know that each and every burlesque dancer works his/her butt off to put on a successful show. But there are just a few little things that I think can hold back a great performer. As an audience member, you get a whole different perspective on this art form, and sometimes you can see that a tweak here or there could make all the difference in the world. Ever notice that at a burlesque show, one performer may get polite applause, while another completely brings down the house? Here are a few things I’ve noticed:
1. Forgetting About the Audience
I know this seems like a silly thing to mention. How can someone in a burlesque outfit, on a stage, in front of a club full of people forget about the audience that is staring them down? I know it takes some serious guts to get up there, but what I mean is that the best burlesque performers realize that the audience is part of the performance and remain engaged with them throughout the entire number. You can tell that some of the best dancers are constantly gauging the audience reaction and playing off their energy during the show. I think it’s a talent that some dancers just have more or less of, but the difference between someone simply playing in front of the audience and someone playing TO the audience can be quite dramatic. A great example of someone who’s got that gift is Coco Lectric of the Jigglewatts. If you get the opportunity to see her perform, take it!
2. Poor Musical Selection or Awkward Transitions
Sometimes I’ll watch a burlesque number that’s part of a themed show, and I’ll think, “How does this piece fit into the show?” I’m sure that because burlesque performers usually have a dance background, they find music all the time that they really connect with. Choreographing the perfect number to a favorite song is awesome, but it’s stellar if it fits in neatly with the theme of the show.
Another awkward musical situation that often arises is when a performance spans a medley of two or more songs. I love it when a number has different parts, costume changes and mood changes, but those transitions between songs need to be smooth and subtle. It can be very jarring for the audience if musical transitions are not handled with care. Any burlesque dancer is wise to seek input and opinions from fellow troupe members, and even her sound person if possible, about her music and transitions.
3. Lack of Eye Contact
This is the biggie! Everyday we communicate with other people using our eyes. Glances, winks and stares can say volumes about what we really think. Burlesque is no different, and of course the performer is communicating sexual cues and all sorts of things. Sometimes, I see a burlesque dancer with no chemistry with the audience, and it’s because she maintains a distant stare and just has no eye contact. Good eye contact is such an important detail that should not be overlooked. Frequent readers of Lingerie Unlaced may recall who I think has the best eyes in burlesque. Many of our favorite performers in Austin are great at playing to the audience with their eyes, and it always makes the performance more interesting to watch.
So there you have it, my advice on the top three burlesque performance mistakes to avoid, from an audience member’s perspective. Keep these things in mind when creating your routines and of course on performance night, and you’re sure to have the audience hanging on your every move. Wow ‘em and make them feel like you’re performing just for them, and you’ll keep ‘em coming back for more!