Peer Reviews: A Look Inside with Fosse Jack
Peer Review Lottery Applications are now live and will be accepted until August 15th. There are 10 spots available at this years Peer Review event, where peer review participants will receive feedback from a panel of experienced performers and other professionals. Want in on the action? Apply HERE!
To help us learn a little more about Peer Reviews, we’ve caught up with Fosse Jack the Peer Review Coordinator to get a little more insider information about the event!
Name: Fosse Jack
Official Job Title: Peer Review Coordinator; Programming Committee
How long have you been the Peer Review Coordinator?
This will be my third year as the Peer Review Coordinator, and fifth working with BurlyCon.
What do you love about being the Peer Review Coordinator?
Having participated in peer reviews in the past, I understand that they can be pretty intimidating. The stakes feel higher when you are performing for peers, than when doing so for strangers. You feel vulnerable, because… well you care what your peers think. Actually asking for their opinions of you work? Well, that is pretty scary. I love that as the Peer Review Coordinator I get to set the stage for people taking artistic risks. I get to bring together the elements that provide a safer place for artists to step out of their comfort zones and be vulnerable. I love that my work can set the tone for a constructive experience. Witnessing the “Ah-ha!” moments of inspiration evoked by a well-articulated critique is the most rewarding aspect of this role.
What makes the Peer Review event special?
As an Education Organization and Event, BurlyCon plays a crucial role in the development of Burlesque as an art form and as a discipline. As a hallmark experience of the BurlyCon Weekend, Peer Reviews set the example for artistic critique all over the greater Burlesque Community. It helps provide the tools that others can use to strengthen, and challenge each other in their artistic endeavors. By participating in Peer Reviews, performers may gain valuable perspective by listening to a wide range of their Peers. This perspective can allow them to see their strengths in a new light, identify those areas in which they can improve, and come away with a more complex understanding of the piece they present.
Every artistic presentation is a risk. Peer Reviews provide an arena in which those risks can be managed, and by doing so the event allows participants the chance to make discoveries, and mistakes. Together these may promote growth and development.
How do you decide on which person you’ll ask to assist with the event as a Moderator or as one of the experienced burlesque professionals?
My goal is to select individuals who will be models of professionalism in critique. Generally I look for individuals who can combine experience and a trained eye, with a teacher’s tone. I try to provide Panelists with as wide a range of styles, and strengths as possible. Varied perspective is important. I do want all of our Moderators and our Panelists to really WANT our participants to succeed. Encouraging success may come in the form of “tough love” and I want critiques to be honest, but I also want them to be delivered with respect, and understanding. If I don’t know the potential Panelists, personally, I will seek the advice of others in the community. The BuryCon Committee has individuals from all over the country and world, and the advice of my peers has been invaluable.
What is your favorite memory from a Peer Review event?
I have seen so many amazing moments these past couple of years, but my favorite moments aren’t the ones that happen during the events. My favorite moments are seeing people who have participated, risked, and learned, and in doing so have taken their art to amazing places. This past year at BHoF I got to see Kitty Von Quim bring an act to the stage that I first saw her perform at Peer Reviews. I got to see the confidence she had in her act and know that part of that had come from the risk she had taken at BurlyCon.
How has the Peer Review event changed over the last 10 years?
As BurlyCon has grown, so has the Peer Review format. What began as an intimate gathering of close knit individuals, grew to encompass more presentations, more peers from a wider range of places, bigger spaces, and WAY more feedback. Over the past couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity to help build a fresh structure for an event that had grown a just little unruly. We have up’d our game in regard to production values, and developed a more uniform format for the feedback. Thanks to these participants can both feel confident in presenting on a stage meant for performance, and receive feedback in a structured way. The biggest development that I have noticed over the past few years, however, is in the community. Our community has a developing interest in positive critique, and a growing investment in the art form. We’re raising the stakes, and we’re learning how to both challenge and support one another. It is my hope that BurlyCon’s Peer Reviews have played a part in this ongoing development.
What advice would you give to attendees who are thinking about applying for the Peer Review Lottery?
Peer Reviews are risky. It’s scary to get up on that stage and perform for your peers, but it is even scarier to sit down afterwards and just… listen to what others have to say. Sometimes we get way too much feedback, and we can get overwhelmed. If you want to get the most out of your Peer Review experience, come knowing what you want, and be prepared to hear what you might not know you need. Know that we love, and we want you to succeed!