Hey everybody, long time no blog!! I’ve been busy as fuck lately (gratefully so) with various commitments and performance opportunities. This has left me with little time for el bloggo but with lots of new lessons I’d like to share.
One of my most time consuming endeavors has been being part of the Board of Directors for the Vancouver International Burlesque Festival. WOW! I have a new appreciation for every selection committee EVER! What a crazy job trying to produce such a large scale event. I’m very lucky to have such amazing people to work with and learn from.
Our biggest task thus far has been selecting talent from over 150 applications for our 3 day festival. We also let solo applicants submit up to 2 solos for us to pick from so it came down to many many many many hours of fancy, prancy, lady watching. My eyes seriously bled but it was all worth it! We came up with an evaluation system that had each application scored on costume/presentation, skill/ability, and entertainment value. Using this as our guide, we able to meet our deadline and announce our fantastic lineup (check it HERE).
It was an amazing experience and opportunity for my own growth because I was able to see first hand what the experience of a selection committee looks like. I definitely learnt a few things..
1.) Video Quality Matters
We said that it didn’t, but it definitely came into play. If the lighting is so bright I can’t see your facial expressions or half of your routine is hidden behind an audience member’s bulbous head? If the camerawork is shaky or filmed from far far far far away? How can I properly evaluate how awesome you are? I really appreciated the videos that had been filmed in HD where I could clearly see the performer’s performance. Something about having a better quality video definitely suggested professionalism and added abit of a “wow” factor. A caution however, that it shouldn’t look like a music video. Angles and fades detract from the performance and highlight reels aren’t acceptable.
2.) Be Shiny
I’m not on the Dita level either, where I can afford a super showgirl 10 000 rhinestone encrusted anything, but there are a lot of good cheats. Plastic rhinestones or cheaper sequin fabric can do just as well. Hire a fellow performer to be ingenious for you if you aren’t costume savvy. I saw many many kimono/robes but I remember the one that had been made out of the aforementioned sequin fabric. Consider the level of costuming you have seen at other festivals and competitions. No good to lose points cuz your costume lacks. You gotta make it a costume before I will believe its a costume.
3.) Rule of Three aka You Gotta Get a Gimmick
We received so many applications but the ones that were accepted all had something in common. They were more than just a simple strip. The thing I want to emphasize the most is that the majority of our applicants were not “bad,” its just that the ones accepted were better. They felt like a total package- they had something more. Its not enough to just be a good dancer. Its not enough to just have a good costume. You need to have at least three really positive things going on. You need a gimmick. Choose from the following but keep in mind- costuming, aside from cost, is one of the easiest gimmicks you can have. All you have to do is wear it!! And then take it off…
Consider whether you have at LEAST three of the following when developing your acts. If you have more than three, chances are its not just a good act, its a GREAT act!
*Dance Ability/Strip Ability/Stage Presence (You can get by with just one of these but if you have all three?? HOT DAMN!)
The gimmick is a big one!! A gimmick can be several things: a giant prop, a new and unseen before peel, creative use of a classic burlesque archetype, or even a political message. It can be a magic trick, acrobatic or comedic ability! It can come down to being or doing something that people don’t usually see at a Burlesque show or even in their everyday lives! Remember, however, that gimmick is still not enough on its own.
Ok Everybody, I hope this helps!! Make sure that before you apply for a festival or a big competition that you ask yourself, “What is it that sets this act apart from any others” and spend the extra cash for a nice video and some shiny bits. Having professional anything suggests that you are a professional! I promise its worth it.