My Number One Choreography Tip for Burlesque (Burlesque Performance)


Above: Removing my corset at The Burlesque Hall of Fame.
Photo by Mike Albov

My number one choreography tip for burlesque is that your costume IS your choreography.

That's right! That's because the costume removal will include logistical decisions, will affect your movement ability and choices, and make your performance unique.

It's possible to start a number from any point, whether from an idea, a piece of music, or a costume, and you may start out with everything but the costume and still begin developing the number. You may get the costume last! And yet you will, with some exceptions (there are exceptions to EVERY guideline, of course!), have to adjust any choreography you made without the costume to the ways you move with the costume. It's also possible to adjust the costume, but sometimes not as much as one hopes.

Get to know your costume well -- where it's easy, where it's challenging, where you have opportunities for play. Make sure the audience can see every bit of what you intend for them to see. If you don't have a costume yet, mime through your fantasy costume as best you can. And remember -- a striptease with musicality and personality and audience connection done with only a bath towel will get more love than a beautifully costumed act with no awareness of music, a static expression, and a disinterest in the audience. A costume is what you make of it as well as what it's made of!

Many students with professional dance training have resisted this concept at first, but later told me they found out I was right -- burlesque is a unique art form in which all other performance art skills add to, but aren't essential to, to the fundamental skill of neo-burlesque, which is striptease that plays with the performer's awareness of the viewer's expectations.

For example, watch this spontaneous video I made after a class on handling zippers:

Would you like to watch a full one-hour online class on burlesque choreography? It's free! Send an email to with the words "Recording Request: Principles of Burlesque Choreography" in the subject line of your email. This recording of a previous live class is available free by request through October 2021.

Want to support me in making more posts like this? Comment here, and share wherever!

-- Jo Weldon


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