Neo-burlesque, while technically referring to any contemporary burlesque created as part of the revival, has come to mean different things to current performers. Today we explore what makes “Neo” unique, and get your creative juices flowing, just in time for Sugar du Joure’s upcoming course: THIS IS NEO BURLESQUE.
1. Exploring contemporary themes
Burlesque is such a wonderful way to create art in response to contemporary themes, events and attitudes. Challenging and re-evaluating our notions of gender, performance art, dance, identity, and even politics, is a wonderful reason to break out from the classic style of burlesque performance. Performers can even create acts that appear classic in nature (with exquisite costumes, details, and even classic music), but surprise and delight audiences with their contemporary themes, in-jokes, or gags.
2. Using contemporary music
Have a favourite jam on your Spotify playlist? Want to perform to a contemporary song that makes you feel sexy and inspired? Neo-burlesque allows you to break the rules of more traditional or classic styles by incorporating contemporary music in your routines. This can be a great way to capture the attention of your audience, to comment on contemporary issues, or to even surprise the crowd by starting off classic and then taking things in a different direction. We love the freedom, variety, and endless opportunities that contemporary music provide us as burlesque performers!
3. Mix your styles up
Neo-burlesque is a constantly growing and changing genre of performance. Artists regularly mix in other performance styles with their burlesque, whether it’s fire performance, singing or rapping, circus skills, contemporary dance, acrobatics, comedy or theatre. Rather than staying in one ‘box’ of what qualifies as classic burlesque, have fun experimenting and step out of it! Mixing in other styles of performance will keep your audience guessing, and allow endless opportunity for the constant growth and development of your craft.
4. Costumes: the sky’s the limit!
We all love a good classic burlesque costume – the rhinestones, the fringing, the corsets, the stockings.. the full fantasy! But sometimes your idea for an act may be so wild and contemporary that the traditional burlesque costume is just not enough. We have enjoyed countless neo-burlesque acts where the costume plays a huge role in the overall piece. With more and more performers and costumiers taking risks, experimenting with new materials, and being inspired by contemporary catwalks, there are so many ways to change up your costume in a neo-burlesque style. Play with unique fabrics, discover the recent improvements in accessories, wigs and embellishments, and fall down the rabbithole of high fashion conceptual pieces, from shoes to headpieces to stunning garments!
5. Authentically you
The coolest part of performing in a neo-burlesque context? You’re living in a neo-burlesque context! What better way to express yourself and your artform than by representing the era in which you’re currently living. By experimenting with neo-burlesque costumes, music, themes and performance styles, you can create artwork truly in response to the time in which you’re living. Be yourself, embrace yourself, and show your audience what inspires you today with this unique style of burlesque – there are no rules, so go out and make them or break them yourself!