Kristen’s alter ego Aurora Wilde. Image by Raphaël Titsworth-Morin.

There are myriad reasons to pursue this art form. In this post I want to share with you the reasons I got started doing burlesque, and why I keep coming back to it.

1. For Fun

As the Grand Beaver Judith Stein says “One of the best things you can do for yourself is to dance naked. And if you can have an audience and get paid, even better”.

As stated in my performer bio*, I have never liked wearing my clothes. At any given moment I would rather be au naturel. Burlesque celebrates my nudist behaviour instead of chastising it.

2. For Agency

When I’m onstage I can control how people see me, what they see, and when. With the use of costume, character, and choreography, my sexuality and the way I express it is entirely up to me. I show the audience where to look, what I want, and who I am, in exactly the way I want to be perceived.

3. For Passion

For me, burlesque is the crux of theatre and dance. I grew up on the stage, but when I was immersed in dance I missed theatre. When I was occupied with theatre I longed for dance. Burlesque allows me to bring both to the table, instead of choosing just one.

4. For a Creative Outlet

The short form, and usually individual format of burlesque allows me to play out all kinds of scenarios, characters, and concepts that I want to explore. I can live out my fantasies, or convey my ideas to the audience, in a way I couldn’t otherwise.

5. For the Costumes

I have been sketching pretty things for as long as I can remember. In burlesque I get to wear whatever sparkly, over the top, beautiful, sexy, edgy thing that I want. The images I’ve had in my mind for so long can exist in the real world, and be put onstage for all to see!

6. For the Nudism

I like being naked and/or wearing very little. It’s comfortable.
For me, burlesque isn’t just about sex or being sexy. It’s about being myself and feeling good in my own skin.

7. For the Representation

Each performer brings their own version of sexuality, orientation, and gender expression. In any given major city you can find burlesque, boylesque, genderfuck, fetish performances, etc. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen myself in someone else’s performance. Sometimes, I learn more about myself than the person onstage.

8. For the Applause

While I am introverted and steer away from the spotlight in my daily life, I love having all eyes on me when I perform. Onstage I am brave and outgoing. I can make people laugh, smile, and blush on a whim. It feels amazing to hold the attention of an audience and hear them cheering just for me. I will never get enough!

9. For the Confidence

I hate my body. I can’t remember a time when that wasn’t true. But when I’m onstage I can show parts of me that I would never dare to show otherwise. I can love my body, and the audience loves it, too.
Bit by bit, this confidence is seeping into my daily life, and helping me feel better about myself both physically and mentally.

10. For the People

Have you ever walked into a party and thought “I have found my people”? That happened to me with the burlesque scene. I found unapologetic artists, nerds, misfits, feminists, and other exceptional people who inspire me artistically and personally.

Originally written May 9th, 2017.

*Aurora Wilde took a break from performing in late 2017 due to long-lasting injuries. See her performer bio below.

Aurora “Sweet ’n’ Sassy” Wilde is a feisty flirt with a heart of gold. A nudist from an early age, Miss Wilde would cast aside her clothing and gallivant through her childhood neighbourhood au naturel. Clearly this was a sign of things to come…

This “lass with untamed sass” took to the stage at the age of 7 and never looked back. She began performing burlesque in Montreal in 2013 before taking her craft to Halifax, then Vancouver. Aurora adopts popular characters and archetypes and flips them on their heads, creating alternate versions of these well-known narratives, sprinkled with plenty of humour and raunch!

Hi! I'm an artist and writer, currently working as a marketer for Ballet BC. I write reviews of theatre and dance shows in Vancouver, and sometimes books, too.