rocket doll revue

Creating a Narrative: The “Why” of the Striptease

Once upon a time, when I was an undergraduate student pursuing a fine arts degree, I had a professor who had us scrawl across the first page of our sketchbooks the question: “WHY?” This professor was not trying to fill her students with existential angst, but rather push us to be able to have a logical reason for every decision we make. Burlesque is an art form that is no stranger to the narrative. While it isn’t an essential piece of a burlesque act, it can certainly help your work stand out by answering the question, “Why?”
Think of it this way, the punch line of a joke is rarely funny without the setup. Why are you taking off your clothes? Do you need to remove your costume because you’re a jewelry thief on the lam and you need to don a disguise? Did a bratty baby spit-up all over your couture? Did you overdress for a nudist family reunion? I like to build acts by starting with the narrative. It’s the framework in which everything else happens. It informs music choice and character, which both influence costume and movement.
Additionally, spinning a narrative helps your performance stand out by injecting the essence of you into it. A lot of the “Art” that happens in burlesque happens passively. For example, a lot of audience members say that they feel inspired by the body positive atmospheres adopted by burlesque shows. So instead of just getting naked, what if you got naked with a purpose? Your motivations for undressing don’t have to be as absurd as the scenarios I laid out above. Whatever you do, though, make sure it’s entertaining.
Pop a pastie, make good art, and always ask yourself: “Why?”


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