(originally published on my Tumblr blog March 2012)
There are many classes/courses/workshops being run by many performers/dance teachers/fitness classes for burlesque tuition up and down the country, you can be spoilt for choice and the expertise you receive can vary vastly.
I have heard nightmare stories recently from newer performers about classes/workshops they have been on. The teacher did not have the skills advertised, they were not insured, or they were under prepared to teach a class of hopeful ladies who were left disappointed and cash down.
I hope this blog gives you a little understanding and info and helps you choose the right class for you with a qualified/insured instructor.
(Any comments are welcome, I know I may have missed something along the way….)
Different classes for different people
You see an advertisement for burlesque classes, intrigued you take a look and low and behold it’s a fitness/dance class with a burlesque twist, burlesqueacise if you will.
If you’re looking for the type of burlesque class that’s a good work out this will be right for you.
If you’re looking to perform professionally/semi-professionally/as a hobby on stage in front of a paying audience then this would probably not be the best starting point.
If the above is your goal, please ensure you read any info on a website to so you don’t end up in a class, parting with your hard earned cash for expectations that may not be fulfilled.
So you’ve found your class
The website/facebook page/other information available tells you the location, the start date, the cost, what you’ll learn, and waxes lyrical about the teacher’s accolades in the burlesque world.
At face value this may look great, you might think you’ve found the right class for you and in a lot of cases the information will be correct, this should not stop you from doing a little homework on the teacher and course.
Things you can do to ensure you are given genuine information
*Email the teacher
Don’t be afraid to email the teacher and ask for the information you want.
Ask for their insurance details (a lot of performers/teachers are insured through Equity to teach workshops/classes – you can ask for their membership number or other insurers details). Do not attend a class where there is no insurance, if you fall/hurt yourself you may well end up the creek.
Ask for references. They instructor is doing a job just like everyone else and you’re employing them to a certain degree by joining their class/workshop. They will not have a problem with providing references for you, ensure you get full names of those who gave the references if you would like to email the referees for more information.
Ask if they have previous dance training. Not all burlesque performers will as not all are solely danced based acts but being able to move well on stage is key to any performer and this information will be useful as to what type of class you’re entering.
Ask how many years burlesque performance and teaching experience they have. You wouldn’t want to be taught by someone who had only been performing for six months/someone who has been performing for two years and is bottom billed as they wouldn’t have the stage experience/or have shown the progression required to teach others in my opinion.
Ask for their performance CV.
*Google the teacher/class
This may seem completely obvious, but you should be able to find out a bounty of information about them on the net. You’ll be able to see photos, articles/blogs they may have written/facebook pages created, events they have previously performed at and will hopefully be able to gage from this how much experience they have.
*Ask other performers
Email performers and ask if they know of the class/teacher. If you don’t know any other performers put a post up on a message board or facebook group to ask for opinions.
(please feel free to email me anytime if I can be of help firstname.lastname@example.org
also sneaky link to the North West Burlesque Society group: http://www.facebook.com/NorthWestBurlesqueSociety we’re more than happy to help with any queries as are any of our members!).
*Watch the Instructor’s performance footage
Look up the teacher on youtube and watch them perform. You would not believe how many people book onto a class run by a teacher who they have never seen perform before.
If there is no online footage of the teacher (and to be honest, if they’re teaching there should be even if it’s on their website rather than youtube) ask them for their showreel (most performers will have one to send out with their CV) OR ask them when their next performance date is and go and check them out.
Go to your class…go to some more
Have fun, learn some moves, start to put an act together but don’t let this be the end of your tuition!
There are workshops/courses in all types of things burlesque related such as costuming and embellishing, hair and make up, clowning, fan dancing……I could go on and on and on!
As performer styles vary so much don’t be put off by going to clases/workshop taught by other performers just because you’ve already done a course/class, some may be focussed on bump ‘n’ grind, some may be the classical fan dance sort, some may be cheesecake all the way and some may be more comedic.
Please, please, please continue to learn and grow, find your own style, get up on the stage and knock them dead!