Monday, March 25, 2013

A Note on Rejection for the Burlesque Community




I feel that this may be a subject that quite a few of us in the Burlesque community are dealing with. I’ve been hearing a lot of rumblings about performers being disappointed about not getting booked in certain shows, and the recent notifications for BHOF seem to reveal it as an ongoing  theme in our community…

I have been performing in the burlesque community for the last ten years, the most recent seven of which I have made my living solely on performing.  I have been flown all over the world to perform, perform 4-5 nights a week (on average), make a comfortable living, and know that I am good at what I do.  I enjoy every success that comes my way and I feel proud of what I have accomplished…  And, as a part of this process, I experience rejection on a regular basis. 

Yesterday, I was notified that I was not accepted into the Burlesque Hall of Fame, again.  In the grand scheme of my career this should not be as big of a let-down as it happened to actually be. I have enjoyed many successes because people enjoy my performances, and my ultimate goal is not to win a crown, but to continue on a path to keep growing as an artist/entertainer/passionate stripper!

So, why does it bother me (and us) so much? What is it about this particular event that we all seem to fret over so much? I had to really stop and think about it. And something came over me yesterday after the notification. First, it was disappointment and a feeling of “what am I doing wrong?” and then it hit me…  And with it, a feeling of inspiration and utter relief washed over me. I am clearly not doing anything wrong - my career is proof of this! It’s not about winning one competition (or even getting in, for that matter) it’s about winning at my CAREER! My career is not one show. It’s a decade of shows, and hopefully another decade to follow that one!

I (like all of you) submitted a piece that I was proud of. I trust in my art. A host of judges may, or may not, be into what I’m feeling and am inspired by this particular year. Or they were seeking more than my vision was offering. But as long as I stay true to myself, I can continue to make meaningful and inspired work that I enjoy making and sharing. I feel absolute euphoria when I’m onstage. And I would be honored to share that feeling onstage at BHOF, in a theater filled with my peers from all over the world. But it simply isn’t my time, or the judges were into something different. I have faith in my art and I have passion for my art. My rejection wasn’t personal. None of the rejections were personal.

I always dreamed of being a dancer. I spent most of my life in dance studios and ultimately in a performing arts conservatory college for dance. I spent literally 8 hours a day in the dance studio studying technique, choreography, the ins and outs of the body and how our muscles work, over-and-over. In all of those classes I was constantly picked apart. My teachers told me DAILY that something I was doing was wrong, and to “fix it.” It is a hard thing to hear at first, but after a while, like anything you get used to it. I knew that my teachers weren’t “out to get” me - they wanted me to be the best I could be. And how was I going to be the best if I didn’t know what I was doing wrong? It was positive criticism. And it wasn’t necessarily always told to me in a nice way. I think this is true for all arts educations. You are constantly being critiqued and told what to do to make it better. All so that you can leave school and go to audition after audition and compete against hundreds of other dancers for ONE job.

Yesterday, I realized that rejection in the burlesque community might be a similar thing to the rejection and criticism in the arts education. I never took it personally when a choreographer didn’t pick me out of the sea of other dancers in an audition. I got disappointed, but I understood that maybe my body wasn’t the one that was going to see THEIR vision out. The same goes if I don’t get hired for a Burlesque show that I really want to be in, I may not do work that that specific producer wants for THEIR show. But, as long as I am working toward MY vision and getting stronger and working hard at what I love, then I am on the right path.

The jobs and acceptance letters will come when my vision happens to fit the producers or judges. I would be doing myself, as an artist, a disservice to not focus on my vision because I think that it might not be what they’re looking for. Just being the best you you can be is all you need to do. Keep making work that you LOVE and everything else will follow. The cheer of the audience after every show you do, large or small is more important than anything else! Relish in the sea of love from your next audience, and be proud that you have brought joy to them. That’s what is truly important!

A group of judges are not responsible for your feelings of worth. YOU are responsible. Your feeling when you’re onstage is responsible. Your undeniable passion for your audience is responsible. The joy that being onstage gives you is responsible. It comes from within you! If you are working toward someone else’s’ vision (be it a beautiful one or not), it’s still someone else’s’ vision and may not be yours! Why would you work toward someone else’s vision? If what YOU do fits then that’s awesome!! If not, you should never change who you are as a performer to fit in. (this goes for ANY job) Just be your amazing self and enjoy everything that that brings you!

We are soul strippers, strippers forever, and forever growing!




24 comments:

  1. A beautiful note that all Performers should read!
    Thank you, Peekaboo!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have always dreamed of being a burlesque performer but I dont where to start do you have any advice?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Research schools, research teachers, find someone you respect and take classes with them. Take dance classes, improv classes and sewing classes.

      Delete
  3. Thank you so much! This helps and you're on pointe darlin! xoxo Bettie

    ReplyDelete
  4. Whatever you do, Nicole ... don't go to a Burlesque School. Dance classes at one, or better, a jazz or broadway style dance studio, but not a full blown Burlesque School or you will end up paying TOO much to be a clone of someone's idea of a "perfect" Burlesque performer. Find a performer you admire and ask them if they will mentor you. Best of Luck! : )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like what you have to say..however..our Burlesque teacher Grace Cherry is different..we are in Hobart Tasmania..totally understand where you are coming from and agree with you fully! x

      Delete
    2. I am as well as a performer, am a burlesque teacher. I teach my students core burlesque techniques as well as the importance of individuality and personal creativity. Not all Burlesque teachers are created equal.

      Delete
    3. The New York School of Burlesque employs instructors, including Peekaboo Pointe, with vastly different approaches from each other. In most of the classes the instructors create their own content, rather than being required to teach the way the operator of the school teaches. In The Burlesque Handbook I quote as many different instructors as possible and encourage people to do research outside of my book and find their own way. I also encourage people to take dance classes and theatre and circus and other classes outside of our school. We sure don't create clones--our students produce numbers that are very different from each others'. But if they want to learn classic burlesque repertory, we teach them that, and we call it that. People can do burlesque without going to a burlesque school, but going to a burlesque school won't turn the into a clone, if it's a SCHOOL in the sense of a group of instructors rather than an individual calling themselves a school.

      Delete
  5. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! This is just perfect.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Art often gets over looked at Awards time,

    I just found out that one of my favorite movies (Stanley Kubrick's The Shining) wasn't nominated for any Oscars. Not even nominated!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Perfectly put, Peekaboo. Wise words.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Agreed! What a lovely inspirational thought for any creative type trying to make a living off of their creativeness.

    ReplyDelete
  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  10. you are able to talk to your soul ... thank you for writing this post, I agree with your every word, you're absolutely right! Good life

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi Peekaboo! i am very much in a similar situation, however mine is in my head! I would love to talk to you one day..i brought exptic dance teachings and pole dance to tasmania Australia in 2005..and have had a crazy journey..am fine now with it as my age and life is accepting and no jusdgement either of myseld or guilt..family are ok too now and my friends not involved get it too..however..would love to meet you one day! Kidest regards and lots of love and light xx

    ReplyDelete
  12. Oh god..my spelling is so bad..sorry..a wee bit late over here x

    ReplyDelete
  13. Oh wow! This was an amazing post. It's great to put it in that perspective, and I need to step back and think of it that way. In many ways, over the past 7 years, I still get my feelings a little hurt and feel rejected. I have to remember to keep in mind that I will not always fit into every producer's vision and to be happy that I do fit into so many others vision.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Beautiful post! Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  15. It's very refreshing to read your post, Peekaboo. Your introspection about this subject is bang on. It needs to be said over and over again to everyone. We as performers go through this at times, and it's a terrible feeling. I've been stripping and performing on stage for almost 20 years. I know my performances are not meant for everyone, but I feel so amazing on stage and I just want to share myself with everyone in that audience. I feel loved and I feel I get my love back.

    Thanks again, Peekaboo!
    You ARE loved.

    Deity :0)

    ReplyDelete
  16. I come from an extensive dance background as well. We are conditioned to being told what was wrong. We are used to it and accept that positive criticism. Rejection is a part of that. We're all okay with it in that world.

    I've only been performing burlesque for about three years now. In burlesque, I don't get that critique. I don't see or hear others getting or giving critiques. It still has a bit of a fish-out-of-water feel. Thoughts like this keep surfacing: What do I do without feedback? How do I know what to fix? Do I even need to fix something? If it doesn't need to be fixed, why the "no"? As a seasoned performer with a long history, I understand that rejection means "doesn't fit". The problem that I am struggling to come to terms with is the lack of critique. I love what I do. I enjoy what I do and I'm proud of my performances. I have a long way to go (don't we all?). Getting there is proving to be difficult.

    Thank you for this. It reaffirms the idea of "just perform". Keep learning and keep performing. Stay true to your own soul. Anything else will fall short as a performance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi EldRyn ~ I agree that there is an overall lack of constructive critical dialogue in burlesque, which is something every art form needs to grow and survive. Just do it on a small scale. I hope you have those invaluable friends in your life who will call you on your shit, tell you when you have spinach on your teeth or toilet paper stuck to your hell...and tell you when an act hasn't quite arrived. I hold those friends close & welcome their constructive advice about my behavior onstage & offstage. (Important to note that all good advice should address BEHAVIOR and not pretend to know who you are as a person.) Then I carefully consider their wise words and do exactly what I think is right and true for myself. It has served me well over 22 years of stripping. I wish you all the best.

      Delete
  17. Bachelor parties are a great way for all your male friends to bond and have lots of fun before you settle down in life with your lovely bride. It is a great way to experience the freedom of a single life before wedlock. So are you looking for best female stripper, simply visit us.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Beautiful Peek!
    You have been among my favorite performers & favorite people for almost all 10 of those years. As with many of us, it is your passion & love as much as your considerable talent that wins me over night after night. You are so right in what you say.
    I strongly believe that it is our job in life -- not just as artists but as human beings -- to become more and more ourselves throughout our lives.
    Study, perform, take notes, take criticism, keep performing, and stay true to your heart.
    Thank you for everything you are & everything you give...every goddamn time I see you.
    xxx

    ReplyDelete