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Achieving "Flow" in Burlesque

While reading an article on teaching for my Muggle job, I came across Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's idea of "flow": a state or period where you're so into something that you happily lose track of time. When you're done, you've probably accomplished something -- for instance, you've read a chapter in a book, or you've gone for a nice run, or you've cooked or eaten a really delicious meal. Whatever it was, you accomplished it and you felt really, really good about it.

For purposes of teaching students, I'm understanding that "flow" should already be achieved by the time they take final exams or graduate. "Flow" should happen while they're in my class, or while they're studying, or while they're doing homework and readings. While "flow" may only be one part of the creative process, a healthy dose of it may be evident in a student's good grade or by graduating at the top of their class.

This immediately made me think about burlesque "success" and the journeys we all take as artists creating for the stage and audience.

I've started to hit the studio more. I haven't noticed a big difference in my performance skills, but I have noticed that my love for dancing and burlesque has increased. My studio hour usually flies by, and I can barely remember the songs I improv'd to, or the moves I did. I just dance! If I didn't record myself, I'd have no recollection of wtf I'm doing with my practice time.

The same goes for many of my performances, whether they are choreographed or not. It's like I black out a little onstage, and I let the music carry me away. I usually get the sensation that I'm floating above the audience's heads, like I'm dancing above them and looking down. It's the closest thing to feeling like a goddess that I've ever felt, and it feels extremely right.

After reading this article, I know that many of us feel this "flow" almost every time we practice or perform. Mihaly says once you find it, it can make life worth living. And it's true! I feel the same thing when I'm rounding a curve on roller-skates or when I'm writing something new.

I think it's important to achieve "flow" when I'm in the studio practicing. I'm in the middle of my third year, and with all the drama that sometimes comes with burlesque, I think achieving a proper flow reminds me exactly why I dance. It's not for the money, although I love to get paid. It's not for titles, even though it's wonderful to be validated and receive a sparkly crown.

I dance because it's in my blood and bones, because when I hear drums or jazz I can't stop moving, and because I have a goddess inside of me that seems to leap out when I hit a stage. Money and titles and compliments and nice, big costumes are great, but I don't get the "flow" feeling when I receive those material things. I only get it by dancing! Nothing can ever take that "flow" away, because it lives inside of me... hopefully, it comes out when I perform and transfers to the audience! <3

Until next time,

Bebe Bardot

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