Performer Tips: Gloves

Glove Tips

Well, now you know where gloves came from and how symbolic they are, we thought you’d like some light relief by way of things you can do with your gloves to make removing them more interesting! 

Decorate your gloves…

Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? but how many performers bother? Decorating your gloves will make them move in the light and will help capture any subtle movement you make with your fingers, hands or arms. Try rhinestoning them, even if you don’t do the while glove, rhinestoned highlights, such as a strip from the outside tip of the little finger to the end of the glove, or patterns on the forehand will pick out movements under stage lights. you can sew anything on gloves too – but make sure you always stretch the glove out when you are sewing just to ensure you allow the glove to move, and for your hand to actually fit in! Good things to put on a glove include buttons, old brooches, broken necklaces draped as fringing or sewn flat onto a glove, sequins, contrasting fabric to match up to other costume pieces (make sure it has a stretch factor, or you sew in the same grain line as glove, otherwise pleat or ruch it, or ribbon it on), fringing (beware taking fringing down to fingers, you don’t want it to get caught on other costume pieces or go too wild with the fringing and end up looking like a crazy hairy hand thing has happened!)

Put stuff in them

Again, sounds obvious, but there is always something magical when a performer takes off the glove and stuff flies up into the air! What is good is big-sized glitter (small glitter just doesn’t have the same effect, doesn’t catch the light and gets stuck in monitors and makes stages slippery), foil confetti, petals, other costume pieces, surprise objects that you’ll later use in a routine, a length of ribbon (again, that you would incorporate into a routine), unexpected comedy items (sandwhiches, etc), a bloody hand… use your imagination!

Different sized gloves 

While most people associate long gloves with burlesque, different sized gloves can be effective too – short gloves, rubber gloves, wool gloves – in fact, any glove that goes with your routine (and that part is crucial! We’ll come to that in a moment). Possibly the only ones that aren’t very effective are fingerless gloves or those short sort of sleeve things – quite hard to remove without looking like you are fumbling and not very theatrical for the audience to watch.

Gloves MUST go with your routine

To glove or not to glove, that is the question. A few (new) performers fall into the trap of ‘burlesque MUST have gloves’. Putting gloves into every routine can be predictable and very boring, besides, not very realistic (if you are going for laughs, the joke will be on you in the wrong kind of way if you foolishly think of wearing gloves in a beach-themed routine: who the heck wears gloves on a beach coupled with a bikini? Or maybe we’re missing something here?). Wear gloves if your routine permits it, wear gloves if they go with the theme of your act and wear gloves suitable to the costume and era you are portraying. Do not think to be burlesque you must have gloves and therefore your cleaopatra act will be wearing gold opera gloves or your cavewoman will be wearing red ann summers numbers. No.

Ways of removing gloves

There are numerous ways of removing gloves, but a tip if you are wearing really long gloves that go past your elbow – always nudge the glove past your elbow so it will be easier to slip off. If your gloves are excessively long, removing them elegantly with a bent elbow is not possible as the bent elbow will act as a brake and stop them coming off. another tip, pull the fingers loose first – yes, this will make you look like you have floppy long fingers for a few seconds, but it will also give you something to grab hold of and more control when you remove the glove. you can take your gloves off horizontally, vertically, angular, but we would suggest never in front of you arms straight out with hands out to the audience as this will make your arms look really stubby and the audience can’t see what you’re doing (and they do like to watch!) Try waving your hand, snake like, out of the glove for a different texture, try rolling the glove down or up yourself for a but of interest, and just have a look at what others are doing on youtube. try and make your glove removal as different as you can, and always in character with what you are portraying.

Novel uses for gloves

On that being unique things for a moment, try and think of what you can do with gloves in a routine that would make using them more of a prop or just a removal. Eg, you could tie a few of them together in the act to use as ‘rope’ in a mountain climbing act, as glove puppets, as a mop to either mop your hot brow (or other areas) or the floor, as a cloth to polish (Lilly Laudanum loves to do this on the bald heads of men in the audience!), etc. Use your imagination!

Lilly Laudanum ‘A novel Way To Go’ pic by David Hammonds

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