A few years ago, I was in the midst of studying in a master’s program for creative writing. I took a class about navigating the world of freelance writing, and it taught me quite a few things about how to work as a professional writer. One visiting editor to our classroom said something about freelancing that I’ve never forgotten:
You don’t necessarily need to be the best writer ever on the planet to get work. What an editor wants is good, clean copy, delivered on time. Do this, be professional, and you’ll get hired again.
I found out that this is generally true, and I’ve taken this advice into many areas of my life, and most recently, that includes burlesque. I’m decidedly a newbie to the burlesque scene; even though I’ve danced other forms for many years, my burlesque solo debut was just nine months ago. With every performance – both those where I watch and those where I perform – I learn more about how to communicate better with the audience. And it’s that conversation that lights me up, that sets me ablaze; this conversation – to me – is an illumination of the connection that exists between every living thing. The creativity of character, movement, and costume feels to me just like the creativity of writing. Which is why I want to keep doing it. So I try to figure out ways to do it more often. In that spirit, when I started booking myself for solo burlesque performances, I extrapolated that editor’s advice into burlesque terms:
You don’t have to be Dirty Martini or Michelle L’Amour to get work (although, ahem, it sure doesn’t hurt). What a producer wants – what the audience loves – is a solid, inspired performance, from a performer who’s on time and acts professionally.
Not that one shouldn’t aspire to greatness – but aiming to be professional, on-time, and solid is much less daunting (well, to me, anyway) than aiming to be at a level which, as a novice, I have little chance of achieving. My goals are simply to make my solos unique, but still me. Solid. Fun. Inspired. And I feel like I’ve achieved that.
For me, this plan is working. In the last two weeks, I’ve been asked to be in two respected shows, rather than me asking for a booking. This feels like a definite shift or new phase in this learning experience…and I sure like where it’s headed. Onward!
Sewing costumes. It’s just like writing.