BurlyCon 2020: Teaching

Dear Constant Reader,

This year I taught two classes at BurlyCon. I’ve been teaching virtually at B.A.B.E. since April, but this wasn’t the same. There was a bigger audience, new (to me) tech, a moderator, and the class was going to be recorded for later viewing or purchase. I was kind of nervous, to say the least.

My first class was Who’s Who in Classic Burlesque. The whole thing is a presentation and I’ve taught it before, even virtually. Since I was using Google Meet for the first time, I did a trial to make sure my audience could see my presentation, that the film clips would run, and the audio on one of them could be heard. Everything seemed fine.

When class time rolled around, I discovered that unlike Zoom, when screen sharing in Google Meet, you can’t see the rest of the participants. I don’t know how I missed or forgot that. It was completely unnerving and threw me off my game. I tried a couple of different things that didn’t work for one reason or another. If I’d stopped to think, instead of panicking, I could have used my tablet alongside my laptop.

Anyway, I thought I did a terrible job. I get so much visual feedback from a class, even a virtual one, which just didn’t exist. I forgot things, I fumbled, I felt like I wasn’t explaining well, and the audio on that one clip didn’t work. When it was over, I knew that I didn’t want that class recording to be available. More on that in a moment.

My next class was Caring for Your Costumes. I have a lot of fun with it and student questions are a big part of it. I teach this one a lot. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve taught it at BurlyCon now. One of the pieces of feedback I got one year was that the student would have liked to have seen examples of things. The class covers a huge number of topics and it’s really not feasible for me to bring that much stuff when I travel. However, teaching from home…

I gathered a big pile of stuff and set it next to my desk, so I could just grab some show and tell when the topic arose. I realized the day before that something I wanted to demo was too complicated to do in front of my laptop, so I filmed a little video (and I’m inordinately proud of how it came out). I’m quite happy with how this class went and even more so that Christina Manuge told people it was a must-take class! (there might have been a little happy dance on my part…)

So that was the class I was happy with, what about the one I hated? I asked Iva Handfull, the Program Director, if I could re-record Who’s Who and replace the existing version. Yes!

Originally I was just going to record a voice-over and lay it over my slideshow. But then I thought about how much I hated not being able to see faces, so I learned some more about video editing and decided I would film myself talking and put the slide next to me, like on the news (I was actually thinking of Last Week Tonight, since that’s how I get my news, but you get the picture. So to speak). It took me four hours to film a 50 minute class. It was exhausting. At least it wasn’t four hours straight. I was filming on the last day of BurlyCon, so I took a couple of breaks for classes.

Then I started editing.  It occurred to me that I wasn’t restricted to the images in my existing presentation. I scanned pictures from my collection of Cavalcade of Burlesque (a magazine from the 1950s). The American Burlesque Collection let me use images of some of the items in the museum. It took me three days to edit, which was also exhausting, but I had a self-imposed deadline to hit. And I did. I’m pretty happy with the results!

If you would like to take Caring for Your Costumes or Who’s Who in Classic Burlesque, just click the link. Each class is $20 (of which I get $15) and they’re available until December 31.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.