|Sister Dixie Douya|
Photo by Steve Wollkind
By Dixie Douya, Rogue Burlesque
Burlesquers are rarely described as swindlers, hucksters, or tricksters, but be fair-warned, we are great at playing a Confidence Game. No, we won’t scam you out of your money…but we do know how to convince our audience that we’re the sexiest women in the room, no matter how we’re feeling.
When newer performers ask me for advice, the universal truth I can always give them is “Fake it ‘til you make it!” We all have days when we’re sick, feeling unattractive, or just having an off day – burlesque dancers are human! But one of the great things about having the alter ego of your burlesque persona is that even when you aren’t really feeling it, you can still convince the audience that you are beautiful, talented, and dazzling. Using a few easy tricks, you’ll start to believe it yourself by the time you receive your applause!
Here are five easy tips to looking confident, no matter what:
- Shake it out! Whether it’s your first time or fiftieth time performing, a rush of adrenaline can make you feel shaky or on edge. Before you get on stage, physically shake out any excess nervous energy you might have. End with some slow, deep, calming breaths until you feel centered and more in control.
- Make an entrance. The audience will size you up in the first few seconds. If you are entering the stage with your music, keep your head held high and walk in as if you own the joint. If you are starting on stage, strike a definitive pose. This not only lets the sound tech know you are ready to begin, but also tells the audience that your poise is for real.
- Maintain eye contact. The audience isn’t paying nearly as close attention to your size or shape as you think. In fact, the body parts that entrance them most are your eyes and face. So smile not just with your lips, but also with your eyes. If you are uncomfortable looking directly at audience members, look past them to the back wall, just over their heads. Whatever you do, DON’T look down – that’s a sure way to lose your connection to the audience, which means they’ll lose interest in you.
- Take your time. Remember that you are in control on stage! The audience will wait for you. So tease them, play with them, and have fun! If you are enjoying yourself, so will your audience. If you rush and act frantic, the audience will feel anxious for you, and you don’t want sympathy – you want applause. So go slow and they will watch your every move. Promise!
- Savor the applause. When your act is over, don’t run off stage! Nothing ruins a number more than a performer who scampers away, embarrassed to be seen in her pasties. Instead, take a moment to acknowledge the audience’s applause – bow, wink, smile, throw your arms out wide, whatever works for you. You’ve earned their respect and adoration, so bask in the glory, if even for only a moment.
Remember to walk off the stage as you came on – as a confident, regal burlesque queen. You may just find that you’re not faking it any more, but really are a sexy, confident woman – on and off stage. And that is a game worth winning!