(First posted on 20th October 2010....all the peer review slots are fully booked at this year's BurlyCon 2011 and I CANNOT wait to see what people bring. It's been wonderful to see some acts in formation last October come to fruition on bigger stages during the year. This is what happened to me when I did a peer review slot last year. Spoiler: it was blooming brilliant!)
Update 10th Oct: since posting I've had two replies on Twitter from other performers who had peer review slots last year:
@VioletDeVille - "The Peer Review was such an amazing experience that I make a point of recommend it to every performer I meet".
@1AngeliqueDeVil - "Seriously, doing the peer review was one of the best burly decisions I have ever made!"
Angelique's routine made it to the Burlesque Hall of Fame's Best Debut category.
It was pretty fully formed when we saw it in Peer Reviews, however I could spot improvements and isn't it just breaktaking?! I was trying to explain to Angelique on Twitter last night, having seen her performance and been part of the group brainstorming to help improve it, it made me feel much more connected with her performance at BHoF and I cheered my heart and voice out feeling part of this wonderful burlesque community.
So basically.....good luck to everyone doing Peer Review slots this year at BurlyCon (I have a feeling my mate @Dizzyswank is bringing something, CANNOT WAIT) and if you're not coming to BurlyCon in 2011, THEN GET YOURSELF THERE IN 2012!! Find out more about BurlyCon here on their wonderful website!!
Here endeth the enthuse.....
So tonight was the night I was going to break my duck and perform for the first time in the USA.
On the plus side I was going to do it in front of a room of fellow burlesque performers who want their art to grow and flourish, who were supportive.
On the negative even plusser side (don't you just love my abuse of the english language?) I was going to do it in front of some of the biggest stars in the burlesque world, winners of the Burlesque Hall of Fame/Miss Exotic World awards, men and women voted onto 21 Century Pin-Ups Top 50 of Burlesque, oh and only one of THE legends of burlesque, the lovely Dee Milo - oh my goodness me. (By the way, here's a hint for being kind to a newbie just before she's going to do something like this people, don't flipping point out this fact out to her :) I love you all but please....a little thought, haha).
I might not be able to walk into a room and talk to people without dying from fear inside, but I was pretty confident that I could get up on a stage (ok, carpeted hotel function room) and do something that would hopefully entertain.
I've trained myself in the past few years to know that the jitters before performing are what I rename "performance readiness energy". Yes, they're the same sensation as fear, but it's the fight or flight thing - it's your body pumping itself with adrenaline so that you can do this thing. I've also trained my brain to cling onto previous times I've left the stage, to audience applause and laughter and how good this feels, so that before a performance I can recall these feelings and memories to visualise another positive outcome about to happen.
In the UK I've been able to have BIG acts, with big props and big costumes, because pretty much every venue is easy driving distance. So having the Scooby Van as people called it, I had the luxury of being able to be BIG. But now I live in the States and I'm having to rework my repertoire to come up with some acts that fit in a suitcase and can be flown with me to shows.
But my dalek act was my first ever act and has a special place in my heart. I wanted to know if there was enough funny and worthwhile in the act to warrant me keeping it. Even if an American audience weren't totally conversant with Doctor Who, I hoped there was still enough to laugh at in the transformation in addition to my bad dancing.
So the music started, and I purposefully shuffled onto stage.... I’d been practising trying to work in some of the things I'd learnt during Trixie and Monkey's Being Present and Ol' Scratch's Commedia Del Arte classes earlier during the day.... so I made myself pause a little longer and pay the audience more attention, and I tried to make my movements larger and my facial expressions fuller.
And the result? My mind went TOTALLY blank half way through the song's first verse!
Anyway, I hopefully faked it well enough to get me through to my first surprise "EXTERMINATE”....and they laughed :)
I don't think (for me) there is any better feeling in the world hearing an audience laugh with you. I'm sure I was put on this planet to make people laugh and smile, and I will work my heart out to find out how to do it better and better.
I managed to get through the rest of the act ok - it wasn't by any means the best I've performed the act, but it wasn't the worst either.
And then I sat on a chair in front of all these people to receive feedback and tried to keep my mouth shut (yes, I failed, I am so so sorry, it's so difficult being high on post-performance adrenaline and being a Brit who's been brought up to think it rude not to acknowledge and say thank you for every comment - sorry....)
I have to say the whole peer review experience was one of the most fulfilling experiences I've ever, erm, experienced. Yep, the verdict was in, I could keep the act.....and I got the most wonderful brainstorming of ideas to make it even better! And that was before I read all the cards the entire audience of fellow performers handed in for me. Look!:
I tell you, there isn't one card amongst this lot that doesn’t bring some carefully considered thought to help me improve the act.
There's very basic common-sense stuff I should know better about - I didn't place my chair in the usual stage left and so ended up dancing behind it - duh! But this hammers home that if this is something that can affect the act, it's something I need to make sure is RIGHT, AND I need to have back-up plans for when it inevitably goes wrong - even if this is just chanting to myself DANCE WHERE THEY CAN SEE YOU! over and over.
Everything I've been contemplating about how the act still looks like a newbie act was brought up by the comments said out loud or on the feedback cards...BUT there were also some really, really inspired ideas and advice from experienced performers that I wouldn't have come up with if I hadn't performed in front of them.
I spent my plane ride home on Sunday working through the cards and brainstorming additional ideas and refinements from them and am now VERY EXCITED about things I want to do to take the dalek and the rest of my routines to the next level (let alone all the things I learnt in classes during the weekend!)
Again, I'd love to be able to tell you about the other performers who also had the privilege of using the peer review session that night, but my head was a bit of a blur and I didn't keep notes (those of you know me, know how atrocious my memory is) but again the standard was amazing, especially those performers who admitted how few times they'd done this before - my hat is in the air for your bravery, stage presence and talent!
I am so proud to be a member of the wonderful burlesque community, around the world, and totally get how privileged I was to be given the opportunity of being part of the BurlyCon peer reviews. Thank you so much everyone who was in the room and who graciously spent time writing down your thoughts!
So I went to bed much happier and wiser on Friday night, ready and willing to hit the 3rd day of BurlyCon running.
To be continued...