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Return to the 2018 Application System

Judging criteria

We've previously published an article describing the selection and judging process in detail. The process is fairly straightforward, but you may be interested to read that!

As for specific judging criteria: If you're asking yourself "which act(s) should I submit?", here's what we're looking for:

The Burlesque Hall of Fame is dedicated to showcasing the most exciting, entertaining, innovative, fun, sexy and/or hilarious burlesque acts from all over the world. Those qualities in your own body of work are what you should have in mind when you select the act(s) you want to submit.

As we did in previous years, we're allowing each soloist (or group) to apply with up to two acts. We really want to showcase a diversity of acts, and we want to re-emphasize that you don't have to be a certain style (or a certain anything) in order to perform, compete, or win a title at the Weekender.

Generally speaking — we are looking for acts that are ready to dazzle on the big stage. Note that "ready to dazzle on the big stage" has a lot of latitude: we have seen videos filmed in a living room that "bring it," and we've also seen professionally-shot videos that weren't as dazzling. It's not always easy to compare different types of acts (e.g. comedy vs. classic elegance vs. high glitz) but the best acts always have that special something: we want to see that during your time onstage, you can completely own it-- the stage, the audience, and the entire venue. A good place to start is by asking yourself, "is THIS ready for the BIG STAGE?"

For 2018, we are going to continue to offer options for both competitive and noncompetitive spots; either way, your act should still have this "special something" mentioned above. More on that below.

Note: because we allow solo applicants to also be part of group applications, it is possible that a performer will be accepted under both categories, providing that both their solo act and group act do well enough in the selection team's evaluation.

The overall evaluation

The act is what counts. Because we are, first and foremost, evaluating the acts that are being submitted, the act (and video) are by far the most important part of the evaluation. The short answers in the application are there to help the Selection Team get a better feel for your (and/or your group's) personality and flavor but don't factor into the evaluation. (This is also indicated within the application.) We do aim to include acts from across a wide range of styles and geographical areas, providing they have that "special something" described above. To be fair to all acts submitted, special consideration is not granted for having competed before, volunteering for the BHOF, having a particular style or appearance, who you "are" in the burlesque community, whether you submitted the application earlier than anyone else, etc. We give full and equal consideration to each and every act submitted, and the evaluation is strictly of the act and how the selection team perceives it will translate to the big stage.

A note about competitive vs. showcase spots, and how this preference may or may not factor in to evaluations: we understand that different perfomers have different preferences as to performing competitively, noncompetitively, or either. Thus we offer the option to designate this preference. The "special something" and evaluation criteria described on this page will be the same for all of these. Acceptance rates will depend on the number of spots available and the number of applicants who designate their preference for each of these broad categories. Your application will be evaluated against the others, so indicating a preference for one or the other will not increase your chance of being offered a spot in that category by virtue of removing yourself from the other category. You should select the option-- competition, showcase, or either-- that matches what you would be happy with.

How acceptance into one spot affects other spots: if you indicate "either" (for competitive vs. not), you'll (of course!) receive equal consideration for both. But you can only perform the act once during the Weekend. So for instance: if your act is offered a spot in one show (e.g. competition), then you will not be offered a spot in the other (e.g., showcase). However, we do offer a few alternate spots in the event of cancellations, and so it's possible in that case to switch from one to the other. For example, it's possible to be an alternate for one night yet still be offered a spot for the other night. Or it's possible to be an alternate for one night and not be offered a spot for the other. Your notification will describe it in detail.

A note about showcase theme: Since 2011, our showcase theme has been "Movers, Shakers, and Innovators." We reserve the right to either keep this theme or change it based on the makeup of the pool of applications.

Judging criteria:

Below is an overview of judging criteria for the 2018 Weekend competition. Please refer to these guidelines when deciding which of your routines you would like to bring to the Weekend. For the sake of continuity (and to help you plan your act submission), these guidelines/criteria serve for both the selection of performers (competitive and non-competitive) from all applicants, as well as the final competitive judging during the Weekend. However, the people on the Selection Team and the final Event Judges will be different sets of people.

Style, including but not limited to "Overall Glamour":
This applies to your overall execution, stage makeup, accessories, hair, etc. Three things to note about this:

  1. Overall Glamour doesn’t so much demand conventional beauty, but more attention to detail and general theatricality of your look. We want to see your personal style shine through!
  2. Costume is very important, but it does not necessarily have to be expensive and extravagant. The focus is on dance/performance/movement/creativity/personal presence, and for this you shouldn't have to break the bank.
  3. No matter what else your act contains, it should include at least some amount of clothing removal!

Poise, Polish and Professionalism:
This means smoothness of performance, including handling malfunctions or other unpredictable issues.

Stage Presence, Charisma and Energy:
Judges will be looking for your passion for the art—something that should shine through in your routine, regardless of poise or polish.

Originality and Creativity:
Bring it on! The judges are all connoisseurs of both old and new burlesque, so don’t be afraid to express yourself (within PG-13 boundaries, that is).

Striptease Expertise:
Striptease is one of the most unique theatrical elements in burlesque. Judges will consider whether the way you remove your costume pieces is well-executed-- whether it is done skillfully, inventively, and with exceptional ingenuity, humor, mischief, and/or sensuality.

Movement or Dance Ability:
Not necessarily classical training, but more a pleasure to watch.

Entrance to and Exit from Stage:
Don’t forget that first and last impressions count! Does the act feel complete, from beginning to end?

Some extras

Community Spirit and other awards:
At the Pageant, we may award additional awards (at our discretion) such as a "community spirit" award, "most classic", "most comical", etc. These are additional awards on top of crowning a winner in each of the four main categories. The potential of receiving these "bonus" awards does not factor into the application evaluation; these awards are intended to recognize additional excellence in an already excellent field.

Knowledge of Burlesque and The Burlesque Hall of Fame:
This isn't a "judging criterion", but if you win a title, you become a de facto ambassador for The Burlesque Hall of Fame & Weekender, so familiarity with burlesque/burlesque history is always good. For 2018, we will continue to ask that the performer crowned Reigning Queen of Burlesque either produce or host at least one benefit for the BHoF, locally or nationally, within one year of winning their title. There's no penalty for not doing so, but it is something we hope you will consider doing during your reign.