Where can I find reputable teachers?
Taking up lessons from reputable teachers is an excellent way to start out, but do research your options – the person who happens to be most local or inexpensive may not be the best choice. There is no ’standarisation’ or regulatory body to ensure safety and even basic skill. Be careful in choosing a class to attend as it’s not just you money that counts – it’s your quality of learning, fun, health and safety too. With the rise in popularity of burlesque, more and more people are looking to join in the on-stage fun. This has seen a concomitant increase in people offering to give ‘burlesque lessons’, not all of whom are in a position to honestly do so. MoB are available for consultation and direction and reputable teachers are available through our Coaching services.
Here are some pointers based on community feedback and experience. My hope is that you can learn from others’ mishaps:
The diversity of the genre. Burlesque is a diverse genre involving many skills, styles and should be available to everyone. Any teacher who seems to be selling their particular specialty (i.e. striptease) as burlesque, has misunderstood what they are purporting to teach. How are they going to address characterization? Prop comedy? Making satire accessible? If the title of the class is literally wrong, we can be confident that the content will fall short too.
The importance of insured, experienced and qualified instructors cannot be emphasized enough. You are likely to be engaging in moderate to upbeat exercise and teachers must be properly trained, insured and knowledgeable about the possibility of injury or strain. Your specific needs and any limitations of movement are important in your learning – and must be considered by any instructor. Also, be wary of anyone who uses any kind of ‘self-confidence coaching’ psychobabble without appropriate certification or experience – they could be doing you more harm than good.
How experienced are they – really? Make sure your prospective teacher also has adequate experience themselves in the burlesque world. You will want to ask for advice on putting your new skills in to action, and your first steps toward building a good reputation are crucial.
Ask any teacher about their own successful careers as Burlesque performers – i.e. how many years experience have they specifically in this genre? Have they travelled internationally? Whom do they work with? Which reputable agencies can provide corroboration of this? None? Oh dear…
Burlesque is a craft – not an adjective applied to any random class featuring a feather boa or buzzwords. The importance of having both teaching experience and performing experience are not to be underestimated. How will a teacher provide you with direction and advice if they have none to give?
Do ask for specifics, don’t be shy. Any genuine instructor will be thrilled that you are taking your education seriously enough to ask.