The Academy of Burlesque
Teaching diverse individuals to express their creativity, build confidence, and experience joy through Burlesque
What We Believe
Being brave means being afraid, and doing it anyway.
Sex is funny, and being funny is sexy.
You gotta know how to walk (in heels) before trying to run (in stilettos).
Burlesque is a unique and feminist performance art form championed by women, and in doing so, offers opportunities for women’s self-expression in non-traditional environments. We value the educational process, multicultural diversity, community building and audience education. We value a sense of humor, and the pursuit of joy in all our efforts. The Academy supports experimentation, emerging artists, and the raising of the ceiling for multiple levels of performance.
We understand we are part of a long trajectory of powerful, defiant, sexually independent women and outcasts. We honor and respect the legacy of these elders who are considered “Legends” of Burlesque, even in the presence of their complex historical views and choices. We honor the parallels and intersections between Burlesque and stripping, and stand in alliance with all doing voluntary sex work. Further, we recognize that sex work is real work and honor each person’s individual autonomy to choose their own employment trajectory. We acknowledge that the history of People of Color in Burlesque has been marred by racism and we seek to improve access for, visibility of, and representation of People of Color in Burlesque’s “herstory” in the making. We are committed to supporting the growth and health of the International Burlesque community.
How We Teach
We teach a proven methodology that enables raw beginners with no performance background to present brand new work on stage in front of an audience in 6 weeks. And strip. In public. We nurture and foster each student’s ideas while providing effective guidance and instruction. We’re in the business of creativity, but we believe that you’ve got to know the rules before you break them. So, first we teach the fundamentals: history, act structure, elements of humor, classic moves (like tassel twirling). We want our students to have a strong foundation that they can use to create endless new works of art. We are friendly, welcoming and encouraging to all of our students. We acknowledge that each learner has a different background, and we create a simultaneously challenging and compassionate environment for our students to discover more about burlesque and about themselves. Our methods and curriculum are consent and play oriented, providing opportunities for students to experiment with and liberate their creativity.
The big secret?
Burlesque is a game-changer.
Peoples lives change when they have permission to honor their ideas, express themselves, and cherish their bodies. Every day we are grateful to do the work of supporting our students. We teach technique, but our curriculum drives creative expression. And each instructor coaxes the best from each student.
No less than personal transformation.
Oh, and a lot of fun. And new friends. And glitter. Lots of glitter.
What We Do
The Academy of Burlesque is a mission-driven, queer women-owned small business that provides Burlesque Theatrical Arts education and events in an effort to preserve and promote this creative art form.
We provide expert instruction in the Burlesque performing arts for all levels. We offer fun and artistic classes that encourage adults of all backgrounds to express their creativity, build confidence, and experience the joy of Burlesque. We enable eager and curious students to have fun and learn about themselves through the medium of burlesque. We offer entertaining “party classes” for groups of people wanting to play and experiment with the fun and sexuality inherent in burlesque. Through our web-based educational offerings, we provide global access to our unique and inspiring style of expert instruction in Burlesque. We conduct seriously transformative workshops in the technical development of burlesque acts for performance, which is the most fun of all.
We believe that Burlesque should be accessible, fun, sustainable, diverse, and constantly evolving, and as such we do the following things:
- Financial Accessibility: We provide payment plans, student scholarship, work-trade, work-study, volunteer and internship opportunities to promote accessibility and community-building.
- Physical Accessibility: Our classes are not fully physically accessible. Our studio space has a step and a non-W/C accessible bathroom. We are aware that our teaching methods need to improve to welcome all those with physical disabilities. We offer online courses and private lessons. We strive to serve all students by being adaptable, compassionate, honest, and creative. Our performance venue is W/C accessible and we provide preferential seating to any who requests it. We provide ASL interpretation at our shows upon advance (2 wk) request. We know we have a lot of room for improvement here.
- Alumni Benefits: We provide class discounts, volunteer and paid work opportunities, discounted studio rehearsal time, and performance opportunities.
- Faculty and Staff Support: We strive to attract and retain professional working artists as staff and faculty. We offer flexible scheduling to accommodate gigs and travel, competitive rates and paid administrative hours, first dibs on paid additional work opportunities to supplement income, free rehearsal time in the studio, costume and prop loans, testing ground for new curriculum, and snacks.
- Community Giving: We seek to support the growth and vitality of our communit(ies). We provide free rehearsal time to POC artists through the Reparations Project and donate studio space for POC Yoga. Annually we donate a minimum of $1000 in auction packages (we focus on Queer Youth, Reproductive Freedom, Sex Workers, and Independent Theatre, and underrepresented artists in Burlesque), and over $1000 in goods to Burlesque shows run by AOB Alums and/or underrepresented populations.
- Educational Resources: We keep and maintain a library of over 200 Burlesque-related books that we loan each year to BurlyCon Burlesque Convention, where over 600 performers from around the world can interact with rare materials. We accept donations of Burlesque books to the library. We accept contributions of props, costuming, and materials for our student “Free” box. We can assist with those wishing to donate Burlesque Memorabilia, directing appropriate contributions to the Burlesque Hall of Fame.
Our company Operating Values guide all of our business practices and include:
- Responsible – I do what I say I will do, and own it when I make a mistake.
- Communicative – I am clear about my abilities, needs, and problems.
- Solution-oriented – I always look for the ways to improve the situation and resolve issues in a pleasant way.
- Teach and Learn – I know mistakes are learning opportunities and that we are an educational institution. I give people the benefit of the doubt and the opportunity to grow and improve.
- Friendly – I smile, be kind, help where I can, and create a fun and positive environment
- Sexy – I support sex-positive, funny, political, and erotically liberated Burlesque performance and sustain an environment where it can be safely executed.
- Resourceful – I am willing to use my resources to help, and willing to ask my community of friends and contacts for their help.
- Abundant – I believe in the value of Burlesque as a transformative art form, believe in the Academy as a space to support new and emerging performers, and help raise the ceiling to create space for multiple levels of performance.
Headmistress, Miss Indigo Blue
Miss Indigo Blue is the Headmistress of the Academy of Burlesque. She founded the Academy in 2003 in response to her burning passion to teach and share her love of Burlesque with eager budding ecdysiasts. A lifelong student of dance, theater, and performance, Miss Indigo first trained with Burlesque Legends Wild Cherry and Kitty West in 2001. Shortly thereafter she met Dixie Evans, the proprietor of Exotic World and the Burlesque Hall of Fame, and Indigo’s life changed evermore.
With her strong dance and theater background and extensive experience as a stripper, Miss Indigo Blue’s sensuality, musicality, eroticism, and humor earned her a reputation as a sought-after entertainer and instructor.
Since 2008, Miss Indigo Blue has been the co-director of Education for The Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas. That same year she founded BurlyCon Burlesque Convention, and serves as the Executive Director.
In 2011 Miss Indigo Blue won the highest International title for Burlesque performance, “Miss Exotic World”. She remains dedicated to Burlesque education, and continues to teach and administer at the Academy while maintaining a busy performance and touring schedule.
Meet the Teachers & Staff
We are proud to have award-winning, Internationally recognized professional performers and working artists as our Faculty. All of the Instructors at the Academy of Burlesque are hand-picked by the Headmistress for their skill, compassion, talent, humor, grace, and excellence. Our instructors feel honored and privileged to support enthusiasts in finding out more about the art of Burlesque, and of course, more about themselves.