Costume Removals in an Act

Whether you go for the straight up dance and bump and grind numbers or your act is set to a character and theme, how you remove your costume pieces (in essence, your choreography) is what separates you from just doing a dance and taking off clothes.


The basics:

Help yourself out – have a theme. A theme is what separates burlesque from other art forms where clothing is removed. Burlesque is escapism, your act on stage should take the audience on a journey and entertain them. Having a theme is better than a generic, one dimensional routine wearing predictable items of clothing and props and removing these things in a predictable way.

! Do not ever just dance and take costume off without considering the above !  

Everyone, whether they are going on stage to bump and grind, or as a set character piece, has a character. No one ever goes on stage to perform as ‘themselves’. Every performer has a motivation for taking clothes off, whether they are telling a story, making you laugh or making you think they are pretty hot!

Item removal

There are plenty of ways to remove a glove – by this we are talking the mechanics – whether you take a glove off with your teeth, vertically, horizontally, get an audience to take it off for you, etc. But you also need to consider how these mechanics are performed – and this will go hand-in-hand with your character (yes, even if you are performing bump and grind, you will have a character!)

Easy motivations:

Anyone who has been on classes with us will know that we go through a sequence of ‘motivations’ on our advance class to get our students used to trying out different ways of removing their items. Try out the following (it’ll be fun, we promise!)

Take off your costume piece as if:

  • You are shy (remember to keep eye contact, though!)
  • You are really angry
  • The item is on fire – does it burn your hands, do you need to step on it afterwards?
  • It is your lover – do you caress it, give it some foreplay? Does it caress you?
  • It is stuck to you
  • [insert crush of your choice here] is watching
  • you have OCD – does the item need to be folded? placed in a certain way? buttons undone in a certain way?
  • is priceless or made of glass and you don’t want to damage it
  • the item is water – like you are getting out of a bath
  • the body part you are going to reveal is going to blind the audience with its radiance and you want to protect them until the very last minute

This is all good practice and helps build up a repertoire of moves and will make your act and costume removal choreography different. Remember, predictable removals will have been seen by audiences a lot, unpredictable and creative removals make a point and are memorable.

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