Burlesque: When Saying Goodbye to Performing Isn’t Necessarily Giving Up

I thought long and hard about writing this and I do hope that it might help someone looking for a little help or guidance when thinking about taking a step back from the stage.

Burlesque has given me so much over the five and half years that I performed. I studied Performing Arts and Theatre Studies when I was younger and I am thrilled to have shared a stage with some of the best and biggest names in the business, and to perform at venues such as the Lowry Theatre really has been the icing on the cake for me.

Best of all I’ve done it on my own, I had the seed of an idea which grew roots and developed into something beautiful and something which entertained and people enjoyed. I am proud of myself for what I have achieved.

Burlesque has given me much more than that though; it’s given me some amazing friendships with people I can’t imagine my life without now, it’s made me realise that I can create something successful from scratch, it’s taken me to wonderful places and led me to wonderful people.

I’ll be honest; before I made my decision the idea of stopping performing had been floating around in my head for some time, for well over a year in fact.

There were multiples of reasons that ran through my mind in the last year before I made the final decision.

Things such as; “I’m not getting booked enough” juxtaposed with “I’m getting booked too much and not spending time with my husband/family/friends”. The lull of the first few months of the year in comparison with the last (which were always busier in my calendar due to a certain Christmas Tree act) made the contrast in my feelings obvious to anyone I spoke to. Or I’d create a new act, make a costume I was more than happy with, choreograph it be perfectly happy with it and then spend a few months wondering if people would like it or if it would be a let-down compared to my most popular act.

I suppose the reason I’m giving examples is because there were as many positives as negatives for me.

I knew that I didn’t want performing to be a full time career for me; I also knew where I fitted in the grand scheme of things. I know what level of performer I am and I am under no illusions that I could make a living from it full time, or that I would want to rely on it to pay the bills. I have the utmost respect for anyone who performs full time, the hard work, travel and dedication that it takes is more than I could ever do. This did leave me in somewhat of a quandary though.

  • I have a full time job. It’s a very busy full time job.
  • I also have a part time copy writing job, which I love.
  • I also sew and have quite a successful blog over at www.staceystitch.com
  • I also like to write. Something I don’t do enough of. I have the first chapter of a book that I drafted about 4 years ago and I’d really like to get it finished.
  • I also have a husband and friends who I often miss out on seeing because I’m away at the weekend.
  • I also perform burlesque.
  • I also organise the North West Burlesque Society meetings, update the website and answer the email.

So you see something had to give.

This year has been full of ups and downs for me. The beginning was hard, I suddenly lost someone close and it really made me think about how short life is and what I really wanted to do with my life. My husband studying to become and Ecologist has also been a major contributing factor, it’s been amazing to see him develop skills and gain knowledge that will ultimately turn his (and my life) in another direction, it got me thinking that maybe I didn’t have to be stuck in an office doing the 9 to 5, Monday to Friday.

There was a point, earlier in the year, when the decision was more than half made. I finished making my 31 Flavours costume, got all dressed up and then had a mild panic that I’d actually have to perform this new act. It was then that the reality of what I felt dawned on me. I loved creating an act from scratch, the realisation of your thoughts becoming something you can physically hold on to is a fantastic thing. I did, however, realise at that point that maybe performing wasn’t really for me anymore.

So I did what most people would do, I turned to google to look for advice and I came across this blog, written by Penny Starr Jr.

A Good Idea Is Knowing When To Stop: alternate burlesque positions, retiring old acts, hiatuses and when to say good bye.

It really did help me a lot with a difficult decision that I’d been trying to make for a good old while; it turned the negatives into positives and gave me my exit strategy.

Just because I’d decided I didn’t want to be in the lights didn’t mean I had to give up being involved in burlesque. I would stop performing but my love for burlesque wouldn’t be any less.

  • I could still attend shows and watch them out front instead of in the wings.
  • I’d still be organising and running the burlesque society and I could still run my Blogging for Burlesque & Simple Website Set Up workshop.
  • I can still write about burlesque; shows, books, DVDs. In fact I could move everything to a new domain and make this my main website. I can even interview friends, performers and promoters.
  • I can still do a spot of modelling at Dr Sketchy events (keep your eyes peeled) without performing.
  • It would free up my time to concentrate on writing and sewing and seeing if I could make something of it, which is what I plan to do and what I currently am doing.

So in May I made the announcement, and I received some lovely messages, compliments and comments. I had a few weeks of “have I made the right decision” going round my head and to add to this a few performances with people I am very fond of, who I care heaps about, saying some rather lovely things and making it all the harder, but ultimately I know it was the right decision for me.

The last six months have been some of the best months I’ve had performing and here’s why; the pressure is off. Don’t get me wrong, I performed because I loved being on stage and loved to entertain but I did put a lot of pressure on myself. I don’t have to worry where the next gig is coming from, I don’t have to find the money to make a new act, I don’t have the worry of if I’m updating my social media sites enough/too much.

Now I can take a step back and savour every moment of every gig; the backstage messing about, the gossiping with pals, the tech run throughs, watching performers from the wings, and every millisecond of being on stage. It has all been amazing and I have appreciated it so much more knowing that there’s an expiry date on it for me.

I won’t lie, there have been occasions where I have nearly been in tears. Especially when I think it might be the last time I share a stage or a car journey with someone, and even more so when someone introduces you to the stage with one of the nicest things you’ve ever heard in your performing career but I also feel like I’m on to something, and I’m excited about the next chapter in my life.

And I would like to say thank you; to those who have taught me, to those who have booked me;  to those I’ve performed with, to those that have inspired me; to those that have cheered me on; to the fantastic friends I’ve made and to one person in particular who has been there supporting me every step of the way. I literally couldn’t have done it without you all and I am so grateful for everything you have given to me.

So here’s to new adventures, burlesque, writing and sewing and many other things that may come my way, I really hope you’ll join me and continue to read my blog, you didn’t think you’d get rid of me that easily, right?

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5 thoughts on “Burlesque: When Saying Goodbye to Performing Isn’t Necessarily Giving Up

  1. For selfish reasons I’m sorry to hear it. But I respect the reasons for your decision. I hope you manage to get your novel written. I’m a writer myself; if you want advice or someone to read and comment for you, please let me know. The best piece of advice I (always) give is: get it wrote, then get it right. Don’t start editing till you’ve completed your first draft; it’s all too easy to get bogged down in it. Best of luck in your continuing careers.
    Mike

  2. Pingback: Is there a crisis in burlesque? | lifeisaburlesque

  3. Pingback: How Does It Feel? Five Months on From My Last Performance | Ivy Wilde

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