3 Reasons to Do Burlesque (And The 1 Reason I Don’t)

As a fire dancer, I’ve had many opportunities presented to me, including the suggestion to perform burlesque. It’s very tempting, as good burlesque is funny, entertaining, and empowering. We’re all in this business together, and I respect the art form as much as I do any that challenges the performer and in some cases, the audience. I’ll admit that some of my gigs have been on the more flirty side, and for this I’m not ashamed. It’s simply a celebration of life, IMHO.

I haven’t been performing as much I used to and I didn’t understand the effect this has had on me until I realized that the most excitement I’ve had since I moved to the country was from running the nearest yellow light, which is about five miles away. So when I heard that there was a gathering of flow artists and dancers gathering just a couple of hours away, I registered for the event. It’s called Flow Camp, and there I had the pleasure of taking a workshop from a fierce woman who goes by the name Siobhan Atomica. She’s been a central figure in the Kentucky burlesque scene since 2008, not long after I began my own journey of fire arts.

Siobhan, introduced as “”The Lady that puts the ASS in Bluegrass,” was the MC for a burlesque performance at Flow Camp, and her stage presence was nothing less than captivating. Because I only know enough about this genre to be dangerous, I invited her to share from her professional perspective the top three reasons that she loves burlesque.

Burlesque performer Siobhan Atomica
Siobhan Atomica / Photo by Cornell Canada
From “Five Feet of KA-POW!” aka Siobhan Atomica, The Top 3 Reasons I Work in Burlesque 

 

1. Its Creative Possibilities
Burlesque allows people to combine all their creative, artistic, and imaginative passions into one sparkly package. Like to sew? You can make your wildest costume dreams come to life on stage. Like comic books? You can create an act based on your favorite character and bring them to life in a funny and sexy way. Like to dance? You can combine dancing with theatrical presentation to tell a captivating story that changes your perspective and the perspective of your audience. You can do anything you want! In the words of Paco Fish, esteemed burlesque performer, “There is no wrong or right way to do things, just differing levels of effectiveness.”
Through burlesque I combine my loves of dance, theatre, cosmetology, costume design/construction, set design/construction, production, business, and teaching. I can live out all my dreams at once and funnel them into one glittering package of awesomeness. I am beyond grateful for this outlet, and I know many other performers feel the same way.

 

2. Its Social Importance to Audiences
Since the inception of burlesque in ancient Greek plays that satirically poked at important social and political issues through theatrical presentation to people from all social backgrounds, burlesque has become an important fixture in entertainment and education to the masses. Not everyone can afford to go to the opera, and not everyone can be a prima ballerina, but almost everyone at some point can/will have access to see a burlesque show, and if you have a knack for performing, have self-discipline and drive, regardless of age, shape, color, or gender, you have the chance to become a burlesque performer.
That being said, not all burlesque shows are created equally, but a good show will encompass comedy, satire, and a plethora of variety acts (and of course striptease) that directly involve the audience and expose them to performance arts that perhaps they have never seen, and it will tip societal norms on their heads. As with any art form, people have to start somewhere and there is sometimes more “bad” than “good.” If you don’t have the best experience at your first burlesque show, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Think about how many bands and musicians there are in the world, now think about how many of those bands and musicians you actually like. Think of burlesque the same way. I promise there is a show or performer out there you will love, it just might take some time to find it. Imagine rejecting Johnny Cash because the only exposure you’ve had to country music is Honky Tonk Badonkadonk… you get the idea, right?

 

3. Its Liberating Qualities to Performers
Striptease is a satire of undressing (most people don’t spend 3 to 15 minutes taking off their clothes and then bumping and grinding in a choreographed notion to music every time they take off their clothing, but in burlesque striptease, that’s the name of the game.) Media and society teach us that it’s not okay to take our clothes off in public or to love our bodies if they are anything less than Photoshopped perfection. Modern burlesque rejects those notions. It’s a very freeing feeling to enjoy your body in all its “flaws” and splendor and to gain the confidence to share that enjoyment with a crowd of living, breathing people. It’s a special and magical moment. It’s theatre. It’s art. It’s living at its finest.
As stated before, burlesque accepts people of all shapes, sizes, colors, ages, genders and identities. A person doesn’t have to be young, a size zero and have flawless skin to perform in burlesque. Some of the most famous and successful performers in the burlesque striptease world are men and women of size, color, and/or advanced age and they BRING IT HARD. Passion, discipline, and talent count, dress size and birthday candles are irrelevant. It’s great to have a platform to experience this as a performer, and to promote self-love to audiences at the same time. ~Siobhan Atomica

 

I have to say that I’m not surprised by these insights, but my hope is that they enlighten those who may hold judgments against burlesque, or perhaps simply not understand it. Oh, and my reason for not doing it? I’m super modest (believe it or not). But I love that so many women are bold enough to get up there and own the stage in burlesque; I’ll just do it with my little ol’ fire eating torches. 🙂

 

As always, thanks for taking the time to visit my little corner of the internet. Until next time!
Peace, love, and fire,
Cherie Dawn

 

Bio: Siobhan Atomica has a life-long history of training and involvement in a myriad of dance genres as well as theatre, and travels nationally to perform, produce and teach as well as to appear at numerous burlesque festivals and competitions. She is the headmistress of the Kentucky Academy of Burlesque based in Lexington, KY, founder of the Kentucky Burlesque Society and the Executive and Creative Director of Vagabond Artists Collective, a non-profit organization for circus and variety performers that produces Central Kentucky’s premier variety shows. Don’t miss this little lady when she comes to your neck of the woods and follow her on social media here:

www.facebook.com/siobhanatomica
www.instagram.com/siobhanatomica
www.twitter.com/siobhanatomica
Siobhan Atomica Durham

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2 thoughts on “3 Reasons to Do Burlesque (And The 1 Reason I Don’t)

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