Career spotlight: Burlesque performer

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Madeleine Dore

Simply prancing around in the buff? Hardly. In the latest installment of our career spotlight series, burlesque performers share what it really takes to get on stage and make your mark as a performer.

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Performer Poppy Cherry. Image by Matchless Snapshots via www.poppycherry.com

Despite being an art form that has existed for centuries, burlesque is often misunderstood as being merely striptease. But looking at the definition of the word burlesque – 'an artistic composition, especially literary or dramatic, which, for the sake of laughter, vulgarizes lofty material or treats ordinary material with mock dignity' – it's much more.

Willow J Conway is the co-founder of Bottoms Up! Burlesque Dance School and has been performing for over 20 years. For Conway, the true essence of burlesque is a combination of the political, the comical, and the sexy, with seduction, social commentary and striptease part of the mix. ‘Burlesque by no means has to be funny … I do some pretty dark stuff too.’

Dawn Lindsay has been performing as Dolores Daiquiri for nearly 14 years and is the director and co-founder of the Australian Burlesque Festival. She has produced hundreds of events, travelled the globe, and runs her own burlesque classes through her academy, The Australian Burlesque School.

‘It’s not just a matter of wearing a pretty costume and strutting on stage. It takes dedication, passion and commitment,’ said Lindsay.

We ask prominent burlesque performers about their path to burlesque, the challenges and highlights of their career, and how aspiring burlesque performers can make their mark.

About the author

Madeleine Dore is a freelance writer and founder of Extraordinary Routines, an interview project exploring the intersection between creativity and imperfection. She is the previous Deputy Editor at ArtsHub. Follow her on Twitter at @RoutineCurator