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Creating a Burlesque Curriculum, Syllabus and Lesson Plan

When I was presented with the opportunity to teach Burlesque Striptease Dance Classes, I didn’t think twice about it. I was a bit nervous about creating my burlesque curriculum, syllabus and lesson plans but I figured between my transferable skills and my burlesque experience, I would be just fine. That is until out of curiosity of the options out there for burlesque instructor certification or burlesque teacher trainings, I happened upon “The Teaching Problem” on Burlesque Bible but it was written in 2012. There was also “Who Should Teach Burlesque and How” but that was written in 2012. Both left me discouraged and doubting whether or not I bit off more than I could chew by becoming a Burlesque Instructor.


burlesque curriculum -

As mentioned, initially I didn’t think twice. I am a professionally trained and formally taught theater artist with a background in dance, management, and more. Over the years I’ve led hundreds of events, workshops, retreats, and all kinds of things in the corporate and artistic world, with many of them, focused on dance. Many of those focused on sensual erotic dance that always included an element of striptease, energy play, sensual core flow, and emotionality while always being present in the musicality. Over the years, I’ve naturally developed my own style of movement that I’ve taught and considering the true definitions of burlesque, I felt I had the experience and more to teach people “burlesque.” But did I qualify within the burlesque culture? Those two articles made me feel like perhaps I’d be ridiculed. Then I was encouraged by reading Your Burlesque Teacher May Not Be Teaching You Burlesque” that was written in 2017.

So, the first thing that I did was translate my current movement body of work which was “Sensual Erotic” with a focus on freestyle “Sensual Core Flow” into more congruency with “Burlesque.” That was the easy part. I still wanted to make sure I honored the history of burlesque and the culture of burlesque, even if my own style of expression was geared towards my preference. With that, I wanted to see what certifications and trainings were out there and that’s how I came across

There’s also a few that just seem to be a fitness certification with a sprinkle of burlesque as a theme.

However, I don’t know anything about any of those programs or its creators or their standing in the industry or their experience. All that to say, there continues to be no industry standard for Burlesque Certification. There is no Burlesque union. And as far as I know, as an art form, it’s not recognized in traditional unions that accept artists. There is also no true “School of Burlesque.” There are boutique studios that specialize in teaching burlesque and as a marketing gimmick, their studio used either “School” or “Academy.” But that’s just the studio’s name. There is no Julliard for Burlesque. So that means anyone teaching burlesque has been DIY taught by other burlesque teachers or performers and they have combined that with their own burlesque industry experience and they may be trained in other classical forms of art, theater or dance. With all of that, I told my inner critic to be quiet and I continued developing my curriculum for my updated brand, “SpeakEasy Noir Burlesque.” [2022 Addendum: In 2019, I also launched my own Burlesque Teacher Training program and have enjoyed teaching so much.]

Burlesque Curriculum – What Are You Teaching

What this means for you, is after researching burlesque as an art form, living in the burlesque community as an artist, and considering your life experience and your passion for education and business, you need to develop a curriculum for your brand and genre of burlesque that is holistic to every possible student that fits within your target clientele. There are many reasons people take burlesque striptease dance classes. I’ve written about it before by taking it for fitness, for a hobby, or for professional reasons. That means if you will be teaching all three of those types of people, possibly, your curriculum needs to account for all of those. And your curriculum needs to account for burlesque history and traditions. It can’t be so neo-modern, that it disregards its roots. That would be disrespectful. Honoring the history and acknowledging credit has always been a respected characteristic of a devout artist. Think about this too. At the end of your burlesque program or single burlesque class, what will the student have learned? What skills will they have developed? What will they now know? What will their experience have been? For anyone teaching Burlesque, if you truly take the time to consider those things and answer those questions, you can’t help but began building a solid foundation for a curriculum that’s modern to you while honoring its past traditions, until we wait for or create an industry standard. Doing this makes you thoughtful, considerate, creative, innovative and a true teacher, in my opinion.

Burlesque Philosophy – Why Are You Teaching

What feeds the burlesque curriculum or is developed right alongside it is your burlesque philosophy. This is the articulation of why you teach what you teach. It’s the articulation of what you believe, what inspires you, and what moves you. This sets boundaries and expectations. It is the ability to clearly communicate who you are as a burlesque artist and why you are. What’s the point of Burlesque? Why does it matter? Why is it an art form that needs to live on? What impact does Burlesque have on individuals or communities or the art world? Answering these types of questions with your truth and with what you know to be true forms your personal burlesque philosophy which creates the mission of your brand and the undercurrent of your burlesque curriculum.

Burlesque Syllabus – How Are Your Teaching

After developing your burlesque philosophy and burlesque curriculum, what follows is your burlesque syllabus. This answers the question of how you will be teaching your curriculum. How do you break down the overview of your philosophy into digestible..teachable chunks?

Burlesque Lesson Plan – When Are You Teaching

Your burlesque lesson plan, answers the question of when are you teaching the syllabus of the curriculum. I teach, in essence, a 12-week burlesque striptease class series. By the end of those 12 weeks, I have a clear understanding of where my students should be, what knowledge they will have gained, and what skills they will have developed. In order to get there, I broke apart the curriculum into sub-parts. Maybe, week 1 is the glove peel and week 2 is corsets. Well my lesson plan breaks down specifically that I will be showing five different ways to do a glove peel during week 1. The syllabus just says we are covering “glove peels” but the lesson plan breaks down every segment of the class and the details of what is being taught, such as the five different ways to do a glove peel.

This might seem a little over the board, but in knowing I had my own brand and style of burlesque I wanted to focus on and teach, while still honoring the traditions and the culture and holding myself to a high standard of considering all of the industry standards, I figured it could only help to create and document my actual burlesque curriculum, syllabus, and lesson plans. While the details of those are proprietary, the least I can do is point you in the right direction of how to create your own, since there are none recognized in the industry to study or measure yourself by.

Here are some of the resources that helped me in creating my own burlesque curriculum, syllabus, and lesson plans.

I’ll add more resources here. Most of which had to be found outside of the Burlesque industry, unless you’re using resources found on these websites and sources they reference.

What resources have you used to build your burlesque curriculum, syllabus, or lesson plans?

With that being said, let me set the stage. My brand is called SpeakEasy Noir Burlesque. Speakeasy Noir Burlesque is a combination of “Traditional Burlesque”…like truly traditional. Like back when it was an extravaganza/travesty and took the form of musical theatre parody.  Check out how I define, “What is Burlesque.” Plus a bit of “Showgirl Burlesque” because I fucking love glamour and glitz and a dramatic Femme Fatale or any powerful, especially subversive archetype. And a smidge of “New Burlesque.” I call this combo “Speakeasy Noir Burlesque.”

SpeakEasy Noir Burlesque Overview

By definition, a Speakeasy is an illicit establishment. By a few definitions, Burlesque is a literary or dramatic work that seeks to ridicule by means of grotesque exaggeration or comic imitation of the dignified. Burlesque is also a theatrical entertainment consisting of short turns comic skits, and sometimes striptease acts. And according to me, Burlesque dance is “extreme parody, emotional storytelling, and extravagant reveals.” Its theatrical (dramatic), political, entertaining, naughty, taboo, fun and/or humorous.”

SpeakEasy Noir Burlesque is a mysterious and forbidden order of society for wicked and wayward souls. Weekly classes are a 90-minute experience in exploring power, pleasure, and play through sensual movement and erotic expression.

SpeakEasy Noir Burlesque students will learn the soulful and provocative art of burlesque in a pleasure-filled environment. Everyone is welcome and no experience is necessary. Together we explore classic and modern genres of burlesque movement and archetypes, working with props, clothing, and our own bodies. Playful prompts that reveal sensual movement and erotic expression will aid in your exploration of your own burlesque personas and routines.

Whether you’re taking SpeakEasy Noir Burlesque dance classes for the stage, for fitness, or for private affairs, you will indulge in your own self-expression, confidence, and power. Classes will help you find the extravagant, dramatic and emotional range of your storytelling, striptease, and subtext.  

  • Classes are in a 6-week series cycle and will incorporate “Speakeasy Chorus Routines” and “Solo Striptease Routines.”
  • Each 6-week series teaches all the basics of burlesque and include lap dance, floor work, chair dance, props and/or striptease.
  • While each class can be taken independently and in no particular order, it is recommended that you follow the curriculum for the most decadent and deepest dive into the world of burlesque.
  • Each class includes a warm-up, prompts, guided discussions, burlesque movement, freestyle, and cooldowns to evoke and provoke your authentic and primal erotic nature.
  • You will be taught the basics of burlesque freestyle, or as we call it, “sensual core flow” and in developing stage routines that incorporate choreography. You will then begin building a language around your own burlesque archetype.

Additionally, you will be provided with journal prompts exploratory homework assignments, burlesque resources, playlists, and more. If this kind of exploration speaks to you, sign up for one of my classes, hire me for privates or semi-privates or contact me otherwise. In preparation for class read, What to Bring to a Burlesque Striptease Class. 

SpeakEasy Burlesque Series 1 – Sensual Erotic

In series 1, “Sensual Erotic,” we learn the fundamental concepts of burlesque dance while developing the building blocks of creating your own primal erotic burlesque persona through choreography and core flow.

  • Series 1, Session 1 – Sensual Core Flow
  • Series 1, Session 2 – Hit the Spot
  • Series 1, Session 3 – Sensual Intuition
  • Series 1, Session 4 – Pitch a Fit
  • Series 1, Session 5 – Animal Instinct
  • Series 1, Session 6 – Evoke and Provoke

Breaking down the overview of each session into a digestible paragraph developed my syllabus and breaking down the segments of each class developed my weekly lesson plan.

Is that how you prepare for teaching your burlesque striptease dance classes?

Psst., I know I’m oversharing a bit. That’s intentional. I figure if I show a bit of transparency, others might begin talking about this kind of thing too. Because if you google it, it’s hard to find anything.