Why Your Burlesque Act Needs an Elevator Pitch (And How to Write One)

I’ve lived in Silicon Valley for the last 6 years, so it’s possible that my view is colored by my work in tech; however, I believe that every burlesque act needs an elevator pitch. 

An elevator pitch is a short, clear, and concise statement that, in Silicon Valley at least, is used as a sales pitch. Investors expect you to know exactly what you’re offering and want you to be able to express it so clearly that you could literally convince someone to buy your product during a 30 second elevator ride. 

While you’re not “selling” your burlesque number like a business idea, you do need to “sell” your burlesque number in a different way: you need to be SO CERTAIN that you know exactly what the story is about, that you could explain it in 30 seconds and have someone completely understand the main point of your number. 

When you’re working on the story of your act, you need to be 100% sure of what your act is about. If you’ve just got a loose concept, but can’t describe it convincingly in words, how in the world are you going to tell that story to your audience when you get on stage? And if you can’t explain it, how in the world can you expect your audience to understand it?

And from another perspective: if you ever apply for a burlesque festival, you’re going to be asked to briefly describe your act. If you can’t do it convincingly in two seconds, prepare to lose the producers’ interest. 

Breaking Down the Elevator Pitch 

Your elevator pitch needs to be brief — which means you can’t (and shouldn’t) use it to describe every moment of your act. What you need are the main points of the story. A good elevator pitch should include some or all of the following elements: 

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Let’s look at an example. I’ll use a couple of my own acts: 

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And so on. 

As a reminder: Your elevator pitch doesn’t have to include every element every time — but it should include as many elements as helps you communicate what your act is about effectively. 

Practice writing an elevator pitch for each of your acts. If you’re having trouble explaining what it’s about clearly and concisely, it’s possible that your story isn’t clear enough. OR if you’re finding that the elevator pitch is easy, but it’s not truly matching up with your act, it’s possible that you might need to retool your choreography to better reflect your intentions. If you’re not sure that your pitch matches up with your act, ask a friend who has seen you perform what they think the elevator pitch for your act should be and see if it matches up with how you’ve described it. Or you can have them read your elevator pitch and get feedback on where it does or doesn’t meet their perception of your act. 

Though this exercise might seem tedious or even hard, the better you get at writing the summaries of your acts, the better you’ll be about communicating your story in the long run. Set yourself up for success and get working on those pitches!