In our column How To Burlesque, Miss Frankie Tease brings you tips and advice on a mishmash of burly topics. Today, she dishes on how to approach basic choreography.
There are two approaches to choreography: one is to have the music first, the other is to have the costume and then find music to fit. This all depends upon the nature of the situation. If you are preparing for a show, they may ask you to choreograph to specific music. In this case the costume will be tailored to the music assignment. If you have your costume or prop first, then you will be searching for the tunes that accompany your idea. Mainly go in search of the mood that you want to convey with your prop, find music to match it. Many advanced and successful performers tend to use music without words, so that they are actually the star of the song, not the words, but this is by no means a rule. Just something I've noticed through time. This allows some tight and some looser choreography. In other words, the audience wouldn't know if you missed a cue, because there are no lyrics, just instruments.
I like to take things in simple sections: beginning, middle, and end. If you have a prop that you need to work into your act then listen to the song with intent to discover how it works in. Is there a natural point where it goes together? If you have a reveal or strip tease trick that you want to accomplish, make this toward the end way after the middle.
Treat the three sections as: ONE: Warm-Up/Strut TWO: Surprise or trick THREE: Reveal/Finale'. Keeping things simple will make your act remembered. Making sure the audience can follow you and not going too fast is an important part of choreography. If it's too fancy or fast, they might actually miss what you're doing, and it's for them so that's not good. Complicated is good, but make sure you've established a little rapport with your audience before launching anything too tricky. It allows them to warm up to you and gets them ready to really take in what you have to show!