Originally published August 14, 2017, on burlesquer Aurora Wilde’s blog.
COSTUME AS CHOREOGRAPHY
Costumes are a huge part of burlesque performance. Take time to play with your pieces. How do they move? How can they be manipulated? What do they represent? What are some different ways of taking them off and/or interacting with them?
Don’t feel the need to set choreography right away, take the time to explore all the possibilities first.
CHARACTER AS CHOREOGRAPHY
How does your character move? How do they carry themselves? How would they react to the situation they are in? Ask yourself all these questions and more.
If the character is a real person, fictional character, or an animal you can find all sorts of digital or analog resources to help you answer these questions. If they exist only in your head, round them out into a 3-dimensional character. You should know much more about your character than what is shown onstage.
How did they end up in this situation? What will they do afterwards? All of this information informs your choices onstage.
PROPS AS CHOREOGRAPHY
Stage properties in burlesque are often exaggerated versions of real-life objects. They are gigantic, and covered in rhinestones and feathers.
Because our props are often quite large they can be unwieldy. Choreography is often based around whatever movements are possible with your prop in hand. While you may not use the prop for the whole number, show it off and use it to draw the audience’s attention.
Play around with different techniques that exist, but try to find your own unique movements and uses as well.
SET AS CHOREOGRAPHY
The set is likely the first thing the audience will see. It sets the atmosphere and the environment, and gives us a hint about who the character might be. Anything that’s onstage should add to the comedy, the story-line, or the atmosphere of the piece.
If you bring set pieces onstage, use them. Your character should be interacting with their set, i.e. lounging on their chaise, cooking on their stove, sacrificing goats on their altar… Don’t let that valuable set go to waste!
Read Part 3.