Dancing in a burlesque show

Brea

New member
Hi everyone,

I have an invite to audition for a burlesque show (the old kind, cabaret style). I am very excited about this because I'm interested in being involved with that sort of theater (and I don't have to strip or anything, in case you were curious). It is a burlesque variety show, and there would be strippers in it (again, in the old fashioned way). My question is: will it lower my status in the local bellydance community? Will I be seen as a 'lesser' dancer if I do this? I am aware that this dance is not stripping and hate that people associate them together. However, bellydance and burlesque have a long history and I know how difficult it is for burlesque shows to find bellydancers (or so I have heard, for the reasons mentioned above). However, it would be steady pay and I would be able to make my living as a dancer.

Thoughts or opinions? Even on the revival of burlesque? About dancers associated? Any ideas would be welcome!

-Brea
 

firshania

New member
You know, the bellydance community is so affraid to denigrate our dance that we are affraid to do something that can be great. I know that we should follow some standarts, but as long as we feel good in what we are doing (even if it is stripping) why should we be a lesser dancer? If you have a good technic, that you do a hard work for your show and that you live it and are happy with it, why should you be affraid of what the other can think about you?

Have fun, this is all I can say ;)

(sorry for my bad english ^^)
 

Salome

Administrator
Hi Brea,

My question is: will it lower my status in the local bellydance community? Will I be seen as a 'lesser' dancer if I do this?
There are some up and coming and a few known Oriental dancers who are also burlesque dancers. I believe Princess Farhana, Zoe Jakes from The Indigo, and an up and comer Michelle from the bay area (according to Farhana's website). I don't know that any of them use a belly dance theme in their act, never seen it so I can't say. But it does prove that you can 'get away with it'... at least in some area's.

I would say though that if your burlesque act is in Belly dance costume etc. I'd expect you'd face a downright uproar over it, complete with burning bridges and pariah treatment from a larger portion of the BD community.

If your burlesque act was Nadia the naughty nurse or whatever and there was no cross over of genre's... I expect you'd get some dissaproval from the BD community but I don't imagine it being major. That's just a guess of course.
 
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Recnadocir

New member
If you can make a living in dance, I say do it. It's taken me years, and I'm finally doing it, between teaching, judging, choreographing, and those not frequent enough performing gigs that pay well (judging dance comps actually pays the best of all!)

Do it, and who cares what others think? :dance:
 

Brea

New member
Hi Salome,

Perhaps I should have been more clear. I will be bellydancing in the burlesque show. Burlesque shows are always looking for a bellydancer. However, I would not be stripping, just bellydancing (though there would be OTHER acts within the same show that would be stripping). I doubt I will ever be able to strip...some kind of mental block there.

Generally I'm not at all worried about what people think of me; I am a bit of an oddity in the bellydance community already. However, this is the kind of thing that may lose me gigs or students, and that does concern me. Thank you all for your kind words of encouragement!

-Brea
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
No matter what you do, someone is going to disapprove and someone else is going to throw flowers at you. My own measuring stick of do it or not-ness is: when I am eighty, am I likely to look back and say, boy I'm glad I did that or gee, I wish I hadn't chickened out or lord, what was I thinking?

I'm with Rick on this one- how many eighty year old ladies get to say, yes, I was a belly dancer in a burlesque show.
 

teela

New member
One thing I would check is how far down if at all they are expecting you to go in terms of taking off clothing or if you will do straight belly dancing. Most modern Burlesque shows expect people to do some removal of clothing, even if you do not strip all the way down. This is something important to be clear on. I would check is to see if its a straight belly dance number. YOu need to be clear on what they expect. Other than that. Have fun and I agree with the 80 year old thing. Of course with me, I plan to dance on the table at midnight on New Years eve in paris when i'm 90 so have fun.
 
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Recnadocir

New member
No matter what you do, someone is going to disapprove and someone else is going to throw flowers at you. My own measuring stick of do it or not-ness is: when I am eighty, am I likely to look back and say, boy I'm glad I did that or gee, I wish I hadn't chickened out or lord, what was I thinking?

I'm with Rick on this one- how many eighty year old ladies get to say, yes, I was a belly dancer in a burlesque show.
As long as you're not stripping, when you're 80. But then again, if I were 110, I might think an 80 year old stripper is pretty hot. Would that still qualify me as a dirty old man?:think:
 

Brea

New member
They do not require the bellydancers to strip. They have singers, a circus act, poi dancing, all that stuff...not everyone in this particular burlesque show strips. I am suddenly wondering how that would work out while dancing with fire...!
 

Salome

Administrator
Generally I'm not at all worried about what people think of me; I am a bit of an oddity in the bellydance community already. However, this is the kind of thing that may lose me gigs or students, and that does concern me.
If you had a Manager he/she would counsel you not to do it.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
"As long as you're not stripping, when you're 80."

Strip? Are you talking about MOI? :shok::shok::shok: It took me forty years to be able to walk across a women's locker room decoriously draped in a towel. Should I have another 40 years to play with, I suspect I will be back to the curtained dressing area!
 
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samsied

New member
I'm not sure... It sounds like it could be a good experience for you if it is what you want to do. A nondancer friend of mine recently saw a burlesque/vaudeville show that included a bellydancer that sounds much like what you describe. She was very impressed with the bellydancer and could see how it is different than burlesque (which she also enjoyed). I would prefer a real, quality bellydancer to a one-week wonder or worse posing as a bellydancer in such a show. A good dancer could do a lot to demonstrate that bellydance is a different artform than "exotic dance". If you were the only "non-stripper",then I would discourage you. In a modern burlesque variety show, I imagine you would have a great audience as it is a very trendy and creative entertainment scene that includes many female fans.

Do you live in a very conservative area? If so you may want to weigh the pros and cons. I can see that for many dancers this just would not be worth it, but it sounds like you really want to do it. Since I am not a pro, it is easy for me to tell you to do what you want as long as you do it with integrity.
 

Salome

Administrator
Hi Salome,

Really? Why would they counsel me not to do it?

-Brea
You teach, perform etc. it sounds as if you would like to be a career Oriental dancer and make a living at it. If that is true, and knowing that dancing in a burlesque show can equal scandal a Manager would most likely counsel you to protect the interests of your reputation. OR, LOL, if you had a sleazy Manager they'd tell you to do the burlesque show and strip so it would be a huge scandal and everyone would be talking about you - creating fame, going the any publicity is good publicity route.
 

Kharmine

New member
Is this really burlesque, or vaudeville? I know burlesque is supposed to be trendy right now but with all the different acts it sounds more like an old-time variety show with the "burlesque" thrown in. If the stripping was truly minimal, it might not be much of a problem.

Otherwise, I'm afraid too many people regard belly dance as just another form of "exotic" dancing, classier than pole dancing, maybe, but with the same aim in mind -- male titillation.

If the show is going to focus on how much flesh it can reveal (here's a clue -- will the audience be restricted by age?), you'd have to consider whether it's going to bother you to be, at least locally, classed as someone who danced in that kind of show -- 'cause most people do tend to remember that which seems titilllating over anything else!

You'll never always please everybody in the dance community, anyway, but it could affect other aspects of your life, as well -- say, if you ever ran for office, offered to host a fund-raiser, had to apply for a job with an organization that was self-conscious about its employees' public image or if you were ever in a custody dispute.

If that does seem like a potential problem, I'd stay away from it -- there will always be other opportunities to show what belly dancing is really about.

If it doesn't bother you, if you can laugh off any inferences that you were on the same level as the strippers, then go for it.
 

Brea

New member
There are many acts in it, very few of them stripping. Vaudeville might be the proper term but they call themselves a burlesque revue...probably because there is burlesque in it. There are circus acts and singers, etc. I think the idea is a show like the old Moulin Rouge would have had back in the day... a variety show that just happened to include burlesque?

Salome, I can see that if the show was a seedy type thing. The city I'll be doing it in is a big city that is very cosmopolitan and this show is pretty high class. I understand what you are saying, but I think it would be more problematic if the show were only about stripping. I have been an Oriental dancer as a career for a few years now and want to continue. I am just curious about whether being in any kind of act that might also involve stripping would make the bellydance community feel about me as a professional.

-Brea
 

Kharmine

New member
It kind of sounds like you've made up your mind, Brea; but you're trying to pre-empt any disapproval on the part of other belly dancers.

Look, what can we tell ya -- a lot of us are actively trying to keep belly dancing out of the gutter that careless or malicious people have tried to keep it in. We have to fight stereotypes, slurs, misconceptions and false information and, yes, that often means keeping ourselves away from sharing the stage with strippers, pole dancers and "adults-only" entertainment.

Historically, burlesque has always been a combination of acts -- music, dancing, juggling, comedy, etc. -- but the feature that makes it distinct from vaudeville is pretty women in scanty costumes. How scanty they get, and how good the other acts are, are what determines the high-class show from the raunchy.

In a really high-class show, there are plenty of women in the audience and everyone enjoys it. There is no real need to limit the clientele to those over 18, and you could bring your own parents to it, so long as they were rather broad-minded.

If that's not the kind of show this is going to be, and you're determined to dance in it any way -- well, hey, there are people who are going to feel that you chose to not elevate the art. You're never going to have it both ways. That's life.
 

Brea

New member
Hi Kharmine,

My mind isn't exactly made up on it...yet. These are just the reasons I had for thinking of auditioning. It is that fear of propagating the foolish things said about bellydancers that makes me cautious about it. You wouldn't believe some of the things a couple of guys were saying (while standing next to my parents) at one of my shows, the take it all off kind of thing, which I hate. My father, a former barfighter, was quite in the mood to punch them. The people I've danced for that were from the Middle East always compliment me that my dancing is very tasteful and fun...I just don't want to lose that. However, as a professional historian as well as bellydancer, there is something very appealing about being involved in an old-time burlesque show. I don't want to become a pariah for that, and I suppose that's the general worry I have about it.

-Brea
 

Kharmine

New member
... However, as a professional historian as well as bellydancer, there is something very appealing about being involved in an old-time burlesque show. I don't want to become a pariah for that, and I suppose that's the general worry I have about it.

-Brea
I can understand that. The question should be is this an old-fashioned burlesque show with tasteful acts or something you'd expect to see at the Kit Kat Gentlemen's Club?
 
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