This post was meant to be part of my “Award winning and critically acclaimed”, but I decided it should be a separate entry to bash the burlesque scene and burn down my shakey bridges all the way… *sarcasm*
At the beginning I was so keen on these. Finally a chance to become that award winning performer I always wanted to be and stop being that *jaded bitter joy crusher* I have been from the very beginning…
I did two World Burlesque Games, the Milan Burlesque Award, an Aerial Silk national competition and a pole dance competition and became very, but very disappointed with competing as a whole…
In some cases the results were just premeditated in others just unfair, but never fully fair by my scale… (you know Im very critical)
My skills, my sweat, my tears, my bruises, my hours, my imagination, my costume making were all beaten by, well…. burlesque…. just burlesque…. sometimes pretty mediocre burlesque…
Someone shaking her titties in a rather cliché classic burlesque act vs. all that much more.
At my last WBG, I closed the night, and brought the house down, but I was not worth of being among the actual 5 acts (for 3 spots) that were given prizes… (here I need to say, that I had a wee tangle at the splits, but that could count on a professional aerial competition not on a burlesque one… and I also insert that among the awarded there were also mistakes or “malfunctions”)
A badly executed split overruled the aerial oversplit in 5 meters…
But hey, I can go home and cheer up by struggling on to find the next gig, the next contract, while the part time performer goes home to the cushy fact of having another income and polish her prize and get a new body harness to be a little bit more like the others…right?
There is no proper category for a circus act in a burlesque competition, you are the odd one out eternally. At WBG I was constantly put in the international category which by the way had the most performers, while the Twisted Crown went with around 5 performers, so draw your own conclusions from there.
Proper circus vs. Circus themed burlesque act
Do I have to explain HOW disrespectful it is towards circus? You actually value in this case the “expensive” copy more than the original. A girl prancing around in a clown suit more than a performer that has some tiny thing to do with circus, like spending here LIFE there.
You see, even I had a story with this, back in 2010 I was preparing my black clown act, a caracter based aerial hoop act ,and you bet the caracter was a clown! I was working with Chris Bull and Loco Brusca, so who better than this two to ask for advice, right?
Well, I learned a lot there. Chris got a rant on the topic that he almost made me cry, literally. I expected some nice advice and I got this massive rant about how NOONE who is not a proper clown should even put on a clown nose! Then Loco was a lot milder and just told me to do whatever I wanted, so I went on preparing the act, but maaan that rant just opened my little ignorant eyes about loads of things.
We cannot just say pick something up without consideration, this is what all the cultural appropiation debate goes around about in fact.
Should we all do whatever we want?
Should people get more praise for an imitation than for the original or authentic?
Not quite sure.
(So here imagine in parallel a performer with whatever different than white racial background doing an act in her grandma´s traditional costume, honoring the ancestors, etc. vs. a full blown stereotypical/childish/stupid imitation and then the imitation getting the praise and the prize)
At the Milan Burlesque Awards things did went so far, that at the end I could hardly look my friends in the face, because of how I felt by the results and various circumstances.
For the pole dancing competition, while disqualified for wardrobe malfunction, I failed to realize, that whatever I was to do on that stage it was organized by one school and that school always had its own ideas. So it was literally said out “she would have come out second, if that malfunction did not happened” I mean, really? because they only saw 1/3 of the act struggling with my top, jeopardizing the whole choreography.
My aerial competition was railroaded (by my teacher, who was the organizer, too) from the beginning, so I ended up unprepared. From constantly telling me how my music was not right, to all other details upcoming the competition. I also failed with my the preparation of my big drop…
At the end,the music I brought first for my act, ended up the music of many acts choreographed by my teacher for other students, and the drop and other tricks ended up becoming the signature tricks of other students. (Note, those tricks were not mine, but at the time fairly unseen.)