This past Sunday I had to give a student quick tips for an upcoming chair-and-stocking-peel dance, and it reminded me that I've never done a post for one!
I love watching chair dances, and I love teaching them. Here are some of my favorite chair dance tips for people who are completely new to them.
1) Use the chair. Often a new performer will have a chair on the stage and use it only occasionally, or to sit down for only one incident of clothing removal. However, that's a missed opportunity! Make the most of it -- it's taking up a lot of your space, after all.
2) Rehearse in your costume to make sure that if you spin or lay back, your earrings, hair piece, etc, don't fall off or get stuck to your lipstick. Rehearsing in your costume is a good tip for any number, actually. Also, consider how painful it can be if you have trim like beaded fringe on your butt. Owwwwww I learned that one the hard way!
3) If you're taking off stockings, you can do it standing up, sitting down, or laying down. If you choose to to take off your stocking by pulling it off with your leg behind you, remember that if your knee is bent, the stocking can get caught in your knee joint if you don't lower it below your shin first. And keep your toes pointed as much as possible. For stocking-peel inspiration, see one of the world's best stocking peels performed by Inga at The Burlesque Hall of Fame.
4) If you take your shoes off, you may want to put them back on. If you don't put them back on, try to stand on the balls of your feet so you don't look too casual or sloppy -- although as always, if you want to feel casual or you can do things in bare feet that you're really excited to do, that's a legitimate artistic expression, go for it!
4 also) Some people get very angry about dancers with bare feet. I don't, and I think that's partly because I worked in the fetish community where my feet are as much of a reveal as my chest or behind, but I do believe you should know that there are people who get very intense about bare feet, aesthetically. Do what you want, but be aware that some people will be in their feeling about it.
5) Most importantly, don't let the chair upstage you. It's not cute and you are. Don't let it come between you and the audience. Don't stand behind it, and when you stand next to it, come forward as much as you can. If you linger behind the chair, the photos of your performance will make you sad.
I cover these and many other details while teaching chair dance choreography in my Essential Chair Dance class. And, I have a streaming chair dance video program at World Dance New York! Check it out!
If you have any favorite chair dance videos, feel free to link them in the comments here.
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