How to become a burlesque dancer in nyc

How To Become a Burlesque Dancer, Burlesque Performer, Burlesque Artist....

How To Become a Burlesque Dancer, Burlesque Performer, Burlesque Artist…. 1024 898 Vixen DeVille Vixen DeVille

Maybe you’ve seen some pictures, recently saw a show, or have been a fan of burlesque for years but always secretly wished it was you on stage. Whatever piqued your interest, you’re here… wondering if this seed of an idea can become fully fledged reality.

The answer to that is, YES – it absolutely can!

From those of you looking for a hobby to improve body confidence, or to add some fun and sparkle to your life, to those with stronger intentions of turning this beautiful art form into a new career – this guide will give you the necessary steps to successfully support you on your way.

Over the years I’ve witnessed my students transform into international award-winning burlesque performers. I’ve seen them grow their own troupes and produce their own shows. I’ve seen how burlesque has provided them with a supportive community and the new found confidence to enable them to make drastic, positive changes in both their personal and professional lives. (You can check out some of the most inspiring and moving stories of my students in my book, “Vixen’s Unleashed”) – So let’s get you started on YOUR journey.


If this is all totally new to you, you’ve never danced or even performed in any medium before, I recommend taking an introductory burlesque class first to get a feel for it.

Taking a one-off introductory class such as my “Unleash Your Inner Vixen” either in-person or online means you can get a feel for the teacher’s vibe and style before you commit to their longer term course.

Watching YouTube videos doesn’t really count. Yes you might be able to pick up some technique, but taking an actual class gives you the opportunity to gain personal feedback, as well as a chance to plug in with your burlesque community, both by creating a rapport with the teacher and by making connections with the other students.


GO SEE SOME SHOWS!! We want to get you familiar with the venues and performers in your area, as well as the virtual shows that may be running online, so that you have an idea of where you will be performing, who you will be working with and the vibe of the different shows around. This research will get you even more connected to your community and give you a head start in knowing where best to submit yourself once you’re ready to perform.

This research also gives you a chance to check out the standards and styles of acts currently being performed, which is great not only as inspiration, but also as education on what has already been created and to maybe avoid when creating your first act so that you can stay as unique as possible.


My full act development course, “Permission To Play” can be taken IN PERSON in Los Angeles or anywhere ONLINE Designed for bodies of all ages abilities, shapes and sizes, this course will guide you through my own step-by-step process for creating your personally tailored solo act. The course culminates with the opportunity to perform as a debut guest star either in your hometown or in a professional Burlesque show in Los Angeles.


In order to get your act booked you need to promote yourself! For that to happen you need promotional materials that do you and your act justice.

Studio photos or stills of you performing on stage, plus video footage of your act are both needed not only to send to producers and bookers to pitch yourself for a show, but will be requested from you by the producer in order to promote the show you get booked for.

Hire a professional photographer or videographer, to help you get materials that sparkle! If you’re doing “Permission to Play” with me in Los Angeles then your debut show includes footage and show stills as part of your package.


It’s not who you know but who knows YOU! Social media is not only used heavily in order to promote shows and events but also used in the burlesque community to post castings and request show submissions.

If you’re avoiding Facebook or Instagram now’s the time to create a new account under your burlesque persona ( for my article on How To Choose Your Burlesque name click here )

Being active on social media is also important not just in order to secure bookings by finding castings and showing potential bookers your style and vibe. Social media is also crucial in order to support and promote shows once you’re booked. Producers expect you to do your fair share of promoting the show and bringing an audience so an active and supportive social media account is vital.

STEP SIX – GET EXPERIENCE (and be professional)

Once you’ve performed your debut, you need to get a few performances under your belt to really get your act smooth and polished. When starting out, try to perform as much as possible to ‘earn your stripes’, to get your act fine tuned, and to build your reputation within the community.

This will mean working a number of shows for free, before you can start demanding higher levels of pay. Submit to newcomer festivals, volunteer to ‘Kitten’ for a producer’s show, but always, always treat your gig as a professional engagement regardless of size of venue or amount of pay. You don’t want to get a reputation for the wrong reasons. When starting out it can be more valuable to do a performance free of charge in return for experience, contacts, footage and professional promotional photos.


Now that you’ve got the foundation of your first act created and performed, and you’re starting to get known in the community, this is the time to build on that foundation.

Start to build on and explore other performance skills; chair dance, aerial arts, flow arts, fire dancing, juggling, magic, other dance styles, musical instruments. Find something that lights you up which you can start to incorporate into your acts to make them even more uniquely yours.

Add to your act creation skills – learn how to embellish and create custom costume pieces, prop making, sound editing, all these skills will add to your self expression and creativity when developing your next act.

You can find information on my supplementary training including learning to eat fire, beginners fire fan classes, feather fan technique and burlesque costume creation here.


Most producers will hire a performer to perform at least two acts in their show so in order to become more bookable you will need to have at least two solid (preferably contrasting) acts in your repertoire. Make sure to get all your promotion in line for your second act as well – get it filmed, photographed and get some great studio shots for poster and flyer use. Many of my students will book me for a single private session for feedback on an act they are developing or to use as a consultation to develop new ideas. Once you’re in the community you can also use your peers as sounding boards to try out new ideas.

Now that you have two solid acts, a reputation, a growing social media fan base and some stage experience, you’re ready to go book those higher paying gigs. Download my PDF on How To Get Paid Gigs.

To book a free consultation with me to discuss how you can best make a start on your burlesque journey click here.

If you are looking for more support in your burlesque journey whether you are just discovering burlesque or are a seasoned pro check out my monthly membership programme for instructional videos, monthly guest speakers and 10% discount on my products and services across this website.
Check out all the goodies at

The New York School of Burlesque * Jo "Boobs" Weldon, Headmistress

Questions? Email [email protected]

As seen on CBS Sunday Morning and in The New York Times

Scroll down this page for all of our currently available classes!
Unless otherwise stated, all our offerings are suitable for levels from curious beginner to intermediate.
We recommend you join the email list to be notified as new classes become available. It's easy to subscribe and unsubscribe and subscribe again if necessary! You'll get 2-4 emails a month, including class listing, performance and professional tips, and event news.


Above: Students in our Essential Burlesque studio class.

If you are registered for a class and you have a question, look for the email address in your payment receipt-- that's your instructor's email.
If you are not registered for a class or need to reach admin, email [email protected].
Be sure to use the correct name of the class in your email, and the date if applicable.

Currently available classes and events listed on this page, scroll down to see all:
*Flirting with Burlesque with Jezebel Expess (Online, Live and Recorded, on Zoom)
*Improv and Choreography With Gigi Holliday (In-Person in NYC)
*Stage Kittening (In-Person in NYC)
*Business of Burlesque Classes in November and December (Online with Jo Weldon)
*Essential Burlesque for January 2023 with Jo Weldon (In-Person in NYC and Online on Zoom)
*BurlyCon! November 10-13 (In-Person in Seattle, WA)
It's the world's only burlesque educational convention! Three days of classes, events, networking, and more!
*Student Showcase!
December 18, 2022, in NYC.
***More Classes and Events Added Every Month!***

Join our email list, linked in the column to the left, or follow us on Instagram to be notified when new classes are added.
Headmistress Jo occasionally does live classes on IG.
What classes would you like to see?
Email us to let us know!

Many of our classes sell out, so when in doubt, register at your earliest convenience.

DECEMBER 18, 2022, 8 PM
Jo and her students spent three months together studying burlesque dance, theory, and practice. Come see the debut of 13 new dazzling acts!
Details and Tickets

Check out the new article on our blog:
Includes links to related articles and a video presentation!

November 10-13, Seattle, WA
ticket prices go up November 1!
Jo will be teaching three unique workshops and appearing on a panel.
If you're studying burlesque, there's nothing else remotely like BurlyCon. It features three solid days of classes, events, and more!
Schedule and Registration

Thursdays at 7-8 pm Eastern Time

Are you Burlesque-Curious?
Get acquainted with our fancy performing art in this fun and friendly class, featuring simple moves that will get you into the burlesque groove!
Register using the "add to cart" button below, or get More Details

Discover Jezebel's online intermediate and act development classes!

In-Person in NYC!
Mondays, 7-8 pm
Aerial Arts, 150 w 30th St, downstairs studio.
Get Moving with Gigi!
Gigi will teach you basic burlesque moves and get you into showgirl form in this introductory class! Designed for all levels, it's the perfect way to begin your journey into this sexy and playful performing art.
Dress for movement and comfort, heels optional. November and December Dates and Details

Online on Zoom
Wednesday, November 30 2022, 6 pm--8 EST
How to Produce a Burlesque Show for Beginners
Wednesday, December 14 2022, 6 pm--8 EST
How to Get Gigs as a Performer, Negotiate, and Use Contracts
More Classes, Details, and Registration
Zoom classes will be recorded to give registrants access if they miss any live sessions.

Stage Kittening and More!
With Qualms Galore!
January 22, 2023, 4.15-5.15 pm
Aerial Arts at 150 W 30th St
Ever wondered what it takes to be a supreme Stage Kitten? From the time youre booked until you find that last missing glove, this workshop with Qualms Galore will answer all the questions you might have about the art of the pick up!
More Details

February 2023

2. 10-4.10 pm EST Sundays February 5, 12, 19, 26 and March 5
Showcase in NYC mid-March, date TBD.
In-Person in NYC at Aerial Arts, 150 West 30th St., Manhattan
Join Jo Weldon, author of The Burlesque Handbook, as she takes you through every element as you create your own unique solo burlesque routine, from choosing music to putting together a costume to interacting with a live audience. Each participant will also receive individual attention and guidance. You will have the option of performing your routine live in a student showcase!
Jo has been performing burlesque since 1992, and has traveled the world as a headliner at burlesque festivals. She has been a member of the team at BurlyCon since it was founded and has worked at The Burlesque Hall of Fame since 2004. She has performed at Coney Island USA and The New York Burlesque Festival every year since 2003. You'll be in the hands of someone who's more than a dancer -- she's an experienced performer who really knows what it takes!
Your homework will include watching videos and reading chapters from The Burlesque Handbook.
No prerequisites! Just be sure you know the difference between Act Development and Essential Burlesque.
You will not be taught fan dance, chair dance, etc. in Act Development, but you will receive help building a number with those elements if you already have studied them.
Register Now using Button Below! This class sells out so don't wait. Details and Registration for in-person series described above Online-on-Zoom Act Development Registration coming soon.

In-Person in NYC
Online on Zoom
January 2023
Sundays January 8, 15, 22, 29.
We recommend taking this series before taking Act Development in February, as it gives you the basics of burlesque movements and props.
This series features four workshops, each focusing on a different mode of burlesque solo movement with props. Props include your own clothes, plus our chairs, feather fans, boas, gloves, and even tasseled pasties!
As of November 12 2022, only 4 slots remain!
Strictly limited space, prepayment required.
Details and Registration

Above are all of our active classes.
What classes would you like for us to offer? Email [email protected] to let us know!


Fierce: A History of Leopard Print!
Online Illustrated Lecture
September 19, 2022, 8-9.30 pm EST
Led by theatrical fashion historian Jo Weldon, author of Fierce: The History of Leopard Print, our virtual journey into the colorful history of leopard print will include:
The evolution of leopard print over the ages, from being worn by ancient Egyptian pharaohs to dandy young European men in the 18th century
Fashion icons and pioneers who elevated leopard print as a cultural statement, including Jackie Kennedy Christian Dior, and RuPaul
How disco and punk made leopard print cool again after being labeled 'tacky' for much of the 20th century
The 101 on how to tell leopard print from other patterns, such as cheetah, jaguar, or ocelot
Details and Tickets
Check out Jo Weldon's book!

With Hartless Malone and Perle Noire!

Floorplay is a workshop dedicated to the art of sensual and seductive floorwork. This class is a unique combination of Liquid Motion and Perle Noire's Floorwork Seduction. It is a transformative two hour workshop design to help you connect with your body and improve your floor work technique.
Details and Registration

ACT DEVELOPMENT in February/March 2023!
2.10-4.10 pm EST Sundays for Five Weeks
Showcase date TBA
In-Person in NYC at Aerial Arts, 150 West 30th St., Manhattan
Join Jo Weldon, author of The Burlesque Handbook, as she takes you through every element of brlesque as you create your own unique solo routine, from choosing music to putting together a costume to interacting with a live audience. Each participant will also receive individual attention and guidance. You will have the option of performing your routine live in a student showcase on June 12!
You'll be in the hands of someone who's more than a dancer -- she's an experienced performer who really knows what it takes!
Jo has been performing burlesque since 1992, and has traveled the world as a headliner at burlesque festivals, and is still headlining, featured at multiple festivals in 2022. She has been a member of the team at BurlyCon since it was founded and has worked at The Burlesque Hall of Fame since 2004. She has performed at Coney Island USA and The New York Burlesque Festival every year since 2003.
Your entertaining and informative homework will include watching videos and reading chapters from The Burlesque Handbook.
No prerequisites! Dive in!
Details and Registration

In-Person in NYC
March 26

Join Susie Dahl as she teaches her favorite techniques to create beautiful stage-ready eye makeup looks that will help you serve good eyeball while slaying the room. She'll address emphasizing eyebrows, choosing and applying false eyelashes, and the best long-wearing eyeshadows to make your eye contact sizzle!
Details and Registration

A History of the G-String.
February 28, 2022
Special Debut Event!
ONLINE: Illustrated Lecture with Jo Weldon.
The G-String, called the ultimate triangle by semiotician and fashion theorist Roland Barthes, has a dazzling history going back to ancient cultures in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Learn how this tiny garment and its cousins, the thong and the loincloth, served artists, athletes, and warriors before becoming the symbol of the stripteaser; how it has appeared in literature high and low; and how it evolves to both reflect and influence culture and the ways in which various bodies are perceived, celebrated, censured, and policed. From the decent to the indecent, from the vulgar to the divine, the g-string has always simultaneously revealed and concealed more than meets the eye.
Details and Tickets

In-Person in NYC
March 12, 1-2.30 pm
150 West 30th St, Lower Studio

Instructor: Qualms Galore
Ever wondered what it takes to be a supreme Stage Kitten? From the time youre booked until you find that last missing glove, this workshop with Qualms Galore will answer all the questions you might have about the art of the pick up!
Get More Details Here or Register Immediately using the button below

The NY School of Burlesque combines direct training from the most glamourous performers of the 1940s-1960s with the freshness, mischief and creativity of the most prolific neo-burlesque scene in the world! All of our instructors are working, internationally-known professional performers, and our environment is warm, supportive, and inclusive. We offer a wide range of classes for entertainment, exercise, or training to perform, depending on your level of interest. Plus, you can request a private class for you and your friends at any time!

Victorian burlesque dancers and their colorful costumes | VINTAGE NEWS

If you ever doubted that the Victorians knew how to entertain themselves, you might be surprised. Victorian burlesque is no doubt proof that these people could be very obscene.

19th-century burlesque shows drew crowds at venues such as the Royal Strand Theater and the Gaiety Theater in London.

This form of entertainment has existed since the early 1800s, and in the second half of the 19century firmly established. English style burlesque reached New York in 1840, where it mingled with music hall and vaudeville style shows.

Typically, parody performances lasted no more than an hour, which gave the audience just enough time to be captivated by the extreme femininity of the performance on stage: dancing, intriguing and evocative dialogue, minimal costumes, and plenty of puns. It was a parody - and it was fun.

Victorian burlesque performers were strong and provocative. Men did not hesitate to take female roles and vice versa. This greatly added to the laughter in the crowd. This approach gradually subverted the ideas of the former neoclassical theater of the 18th century, which was less joyful and more "cathartic".

The content and format of the performances resonated with the working class, which faced friction with established aristocrats. If it was unacceptable for “more cultured” people to expose their skin on stage, then here, on the burlesque stage, it looked quite normal.

Victorian burlesque originally used imitation for mockery, and as it developed it used other media such as opera, ballet and drama in its format. The humor was occasionally obscene and even obscene.

During the hour-long show, the audience enjoyed three different activities: the jokes at the beginning, the skit-heavy part and parody, and the musical parodies that usually came at the end.

In addition to Shakespeare, the parodies used material from contemporary figures such as playwright William Schwenk Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan.

Burlesque composers such as Meyer Lutz and Osmond Carr emerged when the genre was more established and also composed original music.

By the beginning of the 20th century, Victorian burlesque had run its course. Unscrupulous performers lost their magic. The world was ready to experiment with new art forms, the days of the modernists were just around the corner.

However, it is always nice to see photographs of real pop stars of the 19th century.

Please feel free to leave comments after reading, it will help other people to see and read the article too. For us it is important! And mark the article if you liked the article. Thank you.

history interesting

Share on social networks

The undisputed star of this trend, known not only to regular viewers, but also to the general public, is Dita von Teese.

It was she who largely popularized this genre in our time. However, burlesque has a rather long history, and today hundreds of artists around the world are engaged in it, who cause the public no less delight than Dita. In our material, we collected the stories of several other top performers, as well as interesting facts about burlesque.

Before diving into the colorful world of burlesque, let's take a closer look at this genre. Today, burlesque is largely associated with striptease, but at the very beginning, these performances did not include stripping on stage.

The name "burlesque" comes from the Italian word burlesco, which means "ridicule", "joking". The genre originated in the Victorian era and included parody plays. Striptease became part of such shows only in the 20th century.

Dita Von Teese

Today burlesque is divided into several branches: cabaret, striptease and traditional burlesque. There is no striptease in the cabaret, as most of the dancers already appear topless on the stage. Striptease focuses on expensive and spectacular costumes, while traditional burlesque, as in the old days, focuses on humor and satire.

Christina Aguilera in "Burlesque"

Each action in a traditional burlesque story is based on a certain story, and a striptease will be shown only if it is justified by the dramaturgy. However, today the so-called neo-burlesque has already grown out of traditional burlesque, which combines modern dance, striptease and traditional burlesque.

So, let's get acquainted with some of the brightest and most popular representatives of the genre.

Kitten N' Lou

Kitten LaRue and Lou Henry Hoover (real names Suzanne Welborn and Ricky Mason) are one of the most in-demand stage duos in their genre. The artists are representatives of the neo-burlesque and retain one of the main traditional features of the genre as it was known in the 18th-19th centuries - the male roles here are played by a woman.

Susanna loved musicals since childhood, then studied modern jazz and ballet. After college, she moved to New Orleans, where she joined the Shim Sham Club, a burlesque troupe in the late 90s.

Ricky's path to burlesque was more rocky. After earning a BA in Dance from Michigan State University about fifteen years ago, Mason moved to Seattle to dance for KT Niehoff and the Velocity Dance Center and quickly became a sought-after artist and choreographer. But work in traditional dance troupes quickly bored Ricky.

You work on a play for two years and then perform it for three nights, and it's kind of heartbreaking,

, Mason admitted. In addition, despite diligent rehearsals, Ricky could not get rid of stage fright, as if she did not meet the requirements.

To solve this problem, the girl decided to perform as often as possible and soon joined the troupe of the artist Waxie Moon. The girls met in the company of mutual friends and immediately realized that they wanted to work together.

On stage they portray a married couple (while Suzanne adopted the style of drag queen to create a female image), and in their numbers they mix glamor, daring humor and modern dance. On account of the artists, performances with Lady Gaga and Tony Bennet, as well as compliments from Dita Von Teese.


The artist, performing under the stage name Medianoche (bright pseudonyms are also part of the burlesque culture, the dancer hides her real name) was born and raised in the south of Spain, so her signature stylist was largely influenced by tango and flamenco.

Today she lives in New York and is one of the most popular burlesque artists, ranking fifth in the Top 50 Burlesque Performers in the World. The artist also has the title of "Queen of Burlesque", which she was awarded in 2017.

Like Dita Von Teese, she also works with retro looks and creates pin-up illustrations in her spare time. The dancer is clearly fascinated by that era: in an interview, she admitted that if she could choose parents among celebrities, they would be Cary Grant and Grace Kelly.

Medianoche is a representative of the striptease direction in burlesque, and her outfits, as expected, are always spectacular, but the artist herself admits that music inspires her the most: it is the new melody that is the starting point of the creative process.

I would like to start a burlesque school in Spain one day. Almost nothing is known about the rich history of burlesque, but the depth of this culture must be revealed to the world!

- admitted by Medianoche.

Violet Chachki

Violet Chachki (real name - Paul Jason Dardo) is known to the public as a drag queen and participant in the famous show "Royal Races of RuPaul" (he became the winner of the seventh season). But Dardo also tries himself in the burlesque genre. So, in 2017, he joined the Dita Von Teese show, where he also performed numbers with elements of aerial gymnastics.

The artist had an interest in the world of shows and cabaret from adolescence: at 19years, he first appeared in the image of Violet (the heroine's surname, by the way, is a reference to the word tchotchke, which means "tsatski" in Yiddish). Today, his acts include sophisticated performing arts, breathtaking visuals, striptease, acrobatics, and fetish aesthetics.

Like Dita, Chachki also managed to go beyond the world of burlesque: he is invited to fashion shows in the image of Violet, in addition, he also became the face of an advertising campaign for vintage underwear.

One of Chachka's famous works is also the mini-movie A Lot More Me, which became a dedication to the glamor of old Hollywood.

I thought of Marilyn Monroe singing "Diamonds are a girl's best friend." This was my inspiration, and I wanted to create something as spectacular,

- Dardo said in an interview.

Bella Blue

Bella Blue is another representative of American burlesque. She was born in New Orleans to Barbara Leopold and Pedro Bendagna, a native of Nicaragua. Bella has been dancing since the age of three and subsequently received an education in ballet and modern choreography. In 2007, Bella Blue became involved in burlesque.

One of her famous performances is Dirty Dime Peep Show. The idea came to her when she first performed in New York.

I got there with my classic number and was amazed by the fact that they could do whatever they wanted on stage. I was so inspired by this because I had all these ideas that I could not use because of this unspoken stigma that you get in New Orleans if you do something strange or unusual,0084

- said Bella Blue, referring to the fact that in her small homeland there is a strong classical school with dancing to jazz music.

Bella Blue combines her artistic career with a leadership position - she is the founder of the New Orleans school of burlesque.

Courtney Cruz

Born in California, Courtney Cruz took up burlesque in 1997 at the age of 18 in Los Angeles. She is best known for The Devil's Playground, a monthly series of themed theatrical burlesque shows and variety shows based on popular comics, video games and movie characters.

Her show is a playful mix of classic striptease, cosplay and a passion for art. One of the troupe's popular performances is based on the Star Wars movie, where Cruz appears on stage as a stormtrooper.

Cruz-style burlesque is always the most unexpected mixture of artistic means: pole dancing, roller stunts, guitarists, ballerinas - you can see anyone on stage!

Calamity Chang

The stage name Calamity Jane is inspired by the American frontier resident of the Wild West, Martha Jane Burke, known as Calamity Jane. The rebellious spirit of her "progenitor" Cheng brought to burlesque. She is one of the most sought-after artists in New York - she gives her shows weekly.

The Huffington Post listed her as one of the "20 Burlesque Stars You Should Know" and also starred in an episode of Steve McQueen's controversial Shame starring Michael Fassbender.

Cheng does not stick to one stage role. She can be both a glamorous dancer who teases fans with feathers and ostrich boas in classic burlesque shows, or a neo-burlesque artist dressed in glittery latex and flirting with a fetish aesthetic.

Legs Malone

The artist came up with her stage name because of her height - 180 centimeters. According to her, she did not want to somehow emphasize physical data, but nothing better came to mind (although among the options was the idea of ​​naming herself after one of the skyscrapers in New York, where she comes from). But Legs Malone has no difficulties in communicating with the public. She was educated at the Faculty of Art History, and her performances are always flavored with intellectual jokes and amusing pantomimes.

There is a popular saying in our community that the main difference between strippers and burlesque performers is that strippers make money. I refute this statement by saying that we do make money, but we tend to invest any income back - in our costumes, props and actions,

- she commented on her work with humor in an interview.

Learn more