How to Burlesque Fan Dance

Serena Doherty June 4, 2016 Burlesque Dancing Basics
Burlesque Fan Dance

Learning how to burlesque fan dance is a seductive staple for any burlesque dancer’s arsenal. We share some burlesque knowledge on the emergence and development of the flattering fan dance.

Burlesque Fan Dance

We began with the basics of how to pose, twirl tassels, perform a sultry glove removal and a stocking peel. These are all skills you can use on the stage and in the boudoir. The fan dance, however, is an entire burlesque act.

There’s dispute over who introduced the fan dance to burlesque. Both Sally Rand (above) and Faith Bacon claimed that honour during 1930s burlesque.

Either way, the classic burlesque act has been taken up time and time again. From 1940s burlesque and Noel Toy to Dinah Might in our very own London burlesque show.

We’re here to inspire you with our top five techniques and tips. Lets celebrate the tradition. Let us know your top tip for a burlesque fan dance in the comments below.

Burlesque Fans Beginners

The place to start is research. You want to know if you like burlesque fan dances as an act but also if they fit your stage persona and style. If they don’t you can always experiment for fun or give it your own gimmick.

The place to begin for inspiration is at the start. See Sally Rand burlesque dancing in 1934.

Showgirl Fans Show-off

Burlesque Fan Dance

The burlesque fan dance is often associated with showgirl burlesque. If that’s your thing, you can even get your very own Sally Rand burlesque feather fans.

Miss Bonnie Fox puts a full flapper fashion into her fan dancing. She also shows off her superior fan twirling skills with vintage glamour and fur pelts.

There are a lot of burlesque fan dancers out there so it’s about practice, practice, practice. By introducing any prop you can add another element to your burlesque dancing. A fan dance allows you to build a good foundation with a classic prop that is alllllllll burlesque and oh-so versatile.

There’s a stigma about “bad” burlesque but don’t let that stop you. Learning what works for you in classes and on stage is an important part of being a performer.

Burlesque Fan Dance

Guide to Showgirl Burlesque with Bettsie Bon Bon.

Coy Coquette Fan Dancers

Burlesque Fan Dance

Fans are used as a prop because you can reveal and hide. You can tease your audience in a different way. Talulah Blue showed her coy coquette skills on Britain’s Got Talent.

Props also allow for a longer burlesque number. Most performers choose to introduce fans after their striptease. This grand finale allows them to flirt and flaunt while extending the length of their performance.

Burlesque dancers create a balance between showing their proficiency at fan dancing and holding the audience’s attention with tease. Therefore beginners may choose more tease.

Burlesque Fan Dance

Timely Troupes and Feather Fans

Burlesque Fan Dance

Burlesque troupes can also use fan dancing as a group burlesque act. As Burlesque Noir (below) shows, the allure of a group burlesque fan dance is all about timing.

As fan dancing is so popular, it may be a prop the entire collective has grasped. It allows dancers to show off their individual personalities if they each take a turn sharing their style. It also allows for a uniform and synchronicity.

Fans come in all shapes and sizes to suit the skill and number of each burlesque troupe. You can add this classic burlesque dancing style to many burlesque themes. Even red thongs and sailor hats, apparently.

Burlesque Fan Dance

Erotic Exotic Feather Fan Dancing

Burlesque Fan Dance

Feathers can influence your stage persona and have shaped many winged burlesque characters. It’s originally an exotic art form and allows for many colourful creations. Rita Lynch used this inspiration for her Bird of Paradise burlesque act.

By using the fans as a basis for her theme, she gives a neo-burlesque take on the original showgirl style. Not to mention, she looks dazzling doing it. There are so many feathered friends out there that this is one of many ways to make burlesque fan dancing your own.

Burlesque Fan Dance

Unique Burlesque Fan Dance

Burlesque Fan Dance

As Sally Rand famously said, “The fan idea is as old as Cleopatra.” Making it your own and unique can be a challenge. Though, it’s one worth thinking about if you fall in love with burlesque fan dancing.

Catherine D’Lish created the biggest fans in the world for her burlesque fan dancing. She proves that you can be unique and bring something new to the table.

You can start with the classics and then add in a sprinkling of you. Whether it’s the character you choose, material for the fans or moves you make, try new things and be brave. When it’s your own, you’re the best at it.

Burlesque Fan Dance

Watch How to Learn Burlesque Dancing with Jo King and watch our quick-fire answer to: what is burlesque?

(Burlesque gifs from K969)