I regularly receive emails from people around the world wanting to know my advice on how to get started in burlesque or the next steps they should take. In order to share these answers with everyone interested, I have added a new article category to this blog, Ask the Bombshell. Read on for the first Q&A in this series:
Hello, I am a fellow Burlesque enthusiast. I have a dream to own a burlesque theater/studio in my home town of [Anytown], TX. A little background, I have danced and been in musicals for most of my life. I was a dance major in college and while I was there I spent a lot of time studying Burlesque on an academic level. I loved the subject so much, but after college I gave birth to my son and put dancing/performing/burlesque on the back burner.
I recently came across it again and thought about how much I’d love to be a part of this world but it doesn’t really exist so much in [my area]. I thought about how much fun it would be have a theater for the community to discover this art. How much fun it would be to teach people how to move and love and celebrate their bodies. I feel like it might be some kind of calling for me and I want to do everything I can to make my dream reality.
Since I have decided I wanted to do this, I have been trying to figure out what I need to learn to become something of an expert. I have read books, practiced making and designing costumes, tried to understand the culture, watched videos, and DVD’s, I attended the New York Burlesque Festival and actually saw some burlesque shows, attended a workshop in [Texas], I taught a burlesque dance class for my cousin’s bachlorette party, and I’m trying to learn what I can about web design.
I just want to know from you what all I need to learn and how to go about gaining the knowledge that would prepare me to take on something very similar to the operation you have going. How many people do have working with you to make all this possible? Are the costs of running and operating terribly high? I imagine that you would have to be very careful about how you spent money to run things. I would truly appreciate any direction you could give me.
Thank you for your time,
Dear Miss D.D.,
It is great to hear your story and I love your enthusiasm about the art of burlesque! You don’t mention whether you actually perform burlesque or not. Do you perform? If not, I would recommend that you start performing burlesque right away. If you want to teach burlesque, you will need to learn through hands-on performance as well as academic study and watching others. Being an active performer will also give you credibility as a teacher and give potential students an idea of the skills you can teach them.
My next piece of advice would be to start small. No one ever wants to hear that, but it’s really great advice, I promise! Starting too big is why such a large percentage of new businesses fail every year! Keep teaching private burlesque parties to get some more experience and confidence, then build from there to start offering group classes at dance studios where you rent by the hour (that’s how I started out).
Running a dedicated studio of my own was a dream of mine for a long time. I taught classes for 3 years before I found a partner and dove into running the studio. Two of us work full time to keep all the aspects of this business running smoothly, and I am in the process of hiring more teachers right now in order to double the number of classes offered at the studio in early 2009.
I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any more questions. I’m always happy to help out other burlesque enthusiasts!