We’ve seen burlesque as a steadily rising trend in alternative entertainment over the last 10 years or so. And, whatever your opinion on the act of burlesque itself, you can’t argue that it’s a great way to help you lose weight, get healthy, but also it’s a great way for women to feel more empowered by their body shape. The first thing to address in terms of burlesque is that it is not stripping! Lots of people seem to think that it’s one of those depraved acts which require you to spin around a pole incessantly, but, in fact, the word burlesque means to make a mockery of or to satirize. This is the one thing that people seem to forget about burlesque. And yes, there are people like Dita Von Teese who are leaning towards the more vintage-inspired striptease, but burlesque itself is all about being clever, sexy, and funny! So as a starting point, burlesque is not something that should be used to demean women. But, also, it’s arguably one of the best ways to get in shape! So, let’s address all aspects of burlesque, and what it can do for you, and what it should do for you, physically, mentally, and emotionally!
Getting Ready For Burlesque
First thing’s first, it requires a lot of strength to do this properly. A general burlesque class has been likened to a workout more than anything else! The fact of the matter is that there is a lot of control involved, and much like professional dancing, there is a lot of holding specific poses, and you have to do it all in high heels! Not to mention wearing a tight corset. This is why, at the very outset of your burlesque experience that you stick to working out in your gym clothes. You can gradually build-up everything over time, but the best way to get yourself prepared for the burlesque experience is to train your core. For any mother, post-pregnancy, this can be the most difficult area to train, so here’s a little workout routine to get you started. In fact, this is the one that Christina Aguilera used to prepare herself for the movie Burlesque so it couldn’t be more suitable, regardless of your opinion on Christina herself!
- Warm up
You get on the treadmill and do 10 minutes to get your heart rate up. The temptation is to increase the incline of the treadmill as you go, but when you are starting out, be sure to take it easy. The one mistake that everybody makes when it comes to beginning any exercise routine is that they want to go 110% straight away; this only succeeds in putting you off exercising.
- Weight training
We’re just going to do the basics to get your body in prime burlesque mode. You start off with some backward lunges with bicep curls. You do 10 sets of this, and this will help to work your quads, but also you need the core for stability. The bicep curls will help to tone your arms, but you don’t need to go for a heavyweight, start off with 5 lbs., and work your way up to 15 lbs. Once you have exercised yourself to fatigue, you can go to continue to tone your arms, with some triceps dips, and aim for 20 triceps dips at the outset.
- Working the core
This is going to be the biggest part of any burlesque routine, regardless of how toned you want your body to be. A strong core is going to make for strong posture, which will help make you feel more empowered in the routine. To work your core, you can go for the traditional sit-ups, but there is an excellent core workout here. The mistake in working out your core is by doing millions of reps every single day, but it’s much more effective as part of an overall workout routine.
Arguably one of the more iconic images of burlesque is the corset, and a lot of women talk about how uncomfortable it can be to wear those, but there are resources to help you with this, such as Waisted Together, which show you how to train your waist. It’s part of burlesque in many forms, but it’s also a handy way for you to feel a bit more comfortable in wearing the clothing. Remember, it’s not about exercising to help you look better; this is merely a way for you to prepare your body for the rigors of burlesque! Once you’ve got yourself into the exercise mindset, now we can progress with the act itself…
Choosing Your Act
It can sound a bit on the corny side, but the trick of perfecting a burlesque act is all about wanting to express yourself. When it comes to developing a routine, there is no hard and fast rule. This is something you can spend a long time perfecting, but when it comes down to it, like many other art forms, such as stand-up comedy, and the truly effective performances are all about how you express yourself. You can take inspiration from other people on YouTube, but when it comes to picking a routine, there are the standard dance moves to choose from, but one of the main things that may help you to unleash your inner woman is the music. Music in a burlesque setting is going to help you set the scene and the mood. It also will help you to pace your routine. And remember, it’s not about taking your clothes off; it’s about reflecting who you are. The next thing about picking your act is the outfit, and the whole get up. Lots of people go for the clichéd nipple tassels and overblown corsets, but remember what you want to communicate. And this could be anything, are you a glamorous Goth, are you keen on being a mermaid, or are you shy and coy? These are all questions to ask yourself, you are unleashing your inner personality onto an audience, and anything goes! Remember, it’s not about the clichéd approach of stripping, you could make your routine funny, you could go for high glamour, you could go for low art, you’re the boss.
The Freedom Of Burlesque
The one great thing about burlesque for women is that it is empowering. Lots of people believe it to be a controversial subject, but it’s an evolving form. The thing about learning burlesque is that the goal is to get inspired by yourself! Sexuality may be a big part of it for many people, but it’s about celebrating it as you want to do it. This is why burlesque has been seen as a pivotal part of the modern feminist movement. It’s not about showing your body for the sake of it, which is why burlesque is an all-inclusive art form for women, people of all shapes and sizes get involved, and celebrate themselves. The great thing about burlesque as an art form is that you are using it to tell a story, and it combines many different skills, skills that are unique to you and what you bring to the table. There is a massive rise in people taking burlesque classes. And people are doing this for one of three reasons, either they want to improve their body confidence, they want to be a professional burlesque performer, or they want to have fun. The great thing about burlesque is that it can make you funny, clever, sexy, or all three in equal measure. It doesn’t matter what pillars you have to conform to in so-called real life.
The problem we have now is that so many women are photoshopped, and luckily, this is starting to swing in the other direction. But it’s still a battle women have to face. The whole perfect body notion is thrown out the window with burlesque, and this is what makes it so appealing and empowering. But, some people do view it as demeaning to women. And this is completely unfair. And for those who view it as demeaning, it’s very likely they’ve yet to be in the audience of a burlesque show! And yes, some of the burlesque acts consist of the clichéd fan dance, but more often than not, you will see poetry, fire-breathing, comedy, or just sheer entertainment. There are lots of burlesque nights that can be see as demeaning, but true burlesque is all about empowering the women and putting on a damn good show!
The best art forms are ones that inspire, and burlesque, in its true form, is just that. By utilizing what burlesque really consists of, it’s a fantastic means of expression for any woman. But not only that, it’s a fantastic way to get fit, meet new people and to unleash who you really are. Lots of people don’t feel they can communicate their femininity in an over sensitized world, but burlesque is a pure celebration of women feeling good about themselves. So, for any woman who is facing a crisis of confidence, or is not able to have an outlet in life, burlesque ticks all of the boxes!