How to Become a Burlesque Dancer

Written by ehow arts & entertainment editor
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Burlesque dancing is a beautiful and seductive form of dance popularized in Europe in the 19th century. Many people think burlesque is all about taking your clothing off but you can find many more facets to this vibrant form of entertainment. Learn how to become a burlesque dancer and capture the magic of this provocative entertainment style.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Learn a bit about the history of burlesque dancing before you fully commit to becoming a burlesque performer. Research famous burlesque stars like Abbot and Costello, Fannie Brice, and Kitten DeVille. Realize that this art isn't a glorified form of stripping, but rather a melding of comedic and ironic humor injected with proactive images and commentary.

  2. 2

    Visit a burlesque show to get a feel for how the art is performed today. Many burlesque performers meld strip tease and acting to create a sense of seductive humor. Take notice of how the performers utilize costumes, props, and music to create a mood for their show that goes far beyond just dancing.

  3. 3

    Enroll in a few dance classes of a wide variety of genres; ballet, modern dance and even ballroom dancing will be beneficial styles to learn to get a good foundation of what elements typically go into burlesque dancing. Land a job at a burlesque show doing anything from tending bar to busing tables until you can get an opportunity to perform yourself. Drink in the environment to assimilate into the world of burlesque.

  4. 4

    Create a character persona for yourself that will be your sort of alter ego during your burlesque performances. Choose a stage name that embodies your character. Pick which themes you want to explore in your performances and make sure they are well thought out, witty, and above all else provocative in nature.

  5. 5

    Book your first gig at a local burlesque club, preferably one that you've frequented many times and made connections at. Spend a good deal of time working on your debut performance as it will no doubt be viewed by savvy burlesque fans who will use your debut as an opportunity to judge your skill as a burlesque dancer.

Tips and warnings

  • Study the wildly popular modern burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese for a good idea of what makes a burlesque dancer successful, a good business sense and a strong image are key.
  • Spend a good deal of time developing costumes and props that you will use. Make sure they represent your personality and that you can dance easily in them.

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