Apply to PERFORM
Apply with your stunning, your shocking, your silly, your show-stopping acts!
Send Us Your Magic
Burlesque artists around the world, we're seeking your solos, duos, and group acts for the the 15th Annual VIBF, happening April 1-4 2020
Applications will be open from November 1st until 11:59pm on December 8th 2019
The cost to apply is $20 CAD per act, only $15 CAD each for VIBFA Members*
*Must have obtained or renewed Membership before November 1st 2019
3 Years On, 1 Year Off
The Festival Board and Artistic Director have heard and listened to community feedback and concerns about repeat casting. With this in mind, The VIBFA recommends that local and international performers use a self-monitored and self-implemented “3 years on, 1 year off” policy for solo acts. If a performer has been selected to perform a solo for the past three consecutive years, the VIBFA Board and Artistic Director encourage them to get involved with the Festival in alternate ways for the upcoming year.This recommendation is self-implemented and optional; performers will not be penalized for applying despite this recommendation, and their acts will be scored fairly alongside other submissions. Final casting will be curated in accordance with the VIBFA’s diversity policy.
Fresh Faced Feature
Fresh perspectives, ideas, and innovations are required for the growth and continued health of any art form. To shine the spotlight on emerging talent and newer performers, VIBF and its Artistic Director have implemented one “Fresh Face Feature” solo slot for each of our showcase events; one “Fresh Face” will be selected per showcase, giving those who have been performing for 2 years or less an opportunity to show us the bright future of burlesque!
Any performer who debuted as a burlesque soloist on or after January 1st 2018 is eligible to apply for this position. Debut date and location must be provided on the application, and will be verified by the Production Team. Fresh Face Feature applications will be scored alongside all other applications, and curated in accordance with our Festival’s Diversity Policy. One “Fresh Face” will be selected per showcase.
Have questions about your submission? The selection process? Want to make a mess?
Read over our FAQs for answers to common questions we receive before, during, and after the performance application period. We hope this provides you with some clarity over our adjudication and curation processes. Take a look to discover valuable information about your application, as well as useful tips to help improve the overall quality of your application.
Please note that this is a living document and is subject to change without notice. It will most likely also evolve from year to year; this current version reflects how we have decided to run applications and adjudication for 2020, but it has not always been this way nor will it always be the same!
As this is our first year providing an FAQ document, not all of your questions may be answered here. If you need any further clarity on these topics or notice any errors or inconsistencies, give us a shout at
What kind of acts are you looking for?
What are some specific things VIBF looks for in an application?
Who are the adjudicators?
What does an adjudicator do?
How are applications scored?
Are applications reviewed by each adjudicator in the same order?
What is the Artistic Director's role in adjudication?
How involved is the VIBFA Board of Directors in the act selection process?
What is curation?
What if more than one of my acts scores high?
Am I more likely to be accepted to perform if I claim an underrepresented or marginalized identity?
Why wasn't my act accepted?
Do you offer feedback on the acts you review?
How many acts can I submit?
Can I submit an application without a video?
May I submit more than one video of an act?
I recorded video of my act in a studio - are studio recordings acceptable?
I applied with an act in a previous year but it was not accepted - can I apply with the same act again?
I didn't get an email confirmation that my application went through - how can I be sure you received it?
Will VIBF notify me if there is something wrong with my application?
Will successful AND unsuccessful applicants be notified of whether or not they are in the Festival?
When will I be notified about whether or not my act made it into the Festival?
Are you taking host applications this year?
What are the time restrictions for submissions?
Why is there a time restriction?
Can my act be over the time limit?
My video is longer than the time limit - is that a problem?
My act involves prohibited substances - is there any flexibility on allowing these substances?
I use an aerial apparatus in my act - does your venue have hanging points?
Fees & Compensation
Why do you charge a non-refundable application fee?
What is the fee to apply?
Do you offer free applications to those who may have financial barriers?
Will accepted applicants receive a performance honorarium? If so, how much?
Does VIBF provide financial assistance to accepted applicants for prop transportation, travel, or lodging?
Would you extend the deadline for me? (I have a really good explanation for why I missed it!)
Can I edit my application after I have submitted it? How do I do that?
Can I edit my application after the deadline has passed?
Can I submit a different/better video after the deadline?
How do I become a VIBFA Member?
Are there any restrictions on who can become a VIBFA Member?
Do I have to be a VIBFA Member to apply?
How does a VIBFA Membership affect my application?
Do I receive a discount on my application fee as a VIBFA Member? How?
Do you offer free VIBFA Memberships to assist applicants who may have financial barriers?
Am I already a VIBFA Member? How can I check my Membership status?
1. What kind of acts are you looking for?
Stun us with your brilliance! VIBF is open to all styles, genres, and interpretations of burlesque performance: theatrical, weird, classic, acrobatic, shocking, funny, raunchy, political, powerful, unique, moving art. We invite applicants of all identities to submit standout acts of all kinds - ideally (though not necessarily) these would be established acts that have had time to evolve and grow into the best versions of themselves. (Please note that our Festival venue does not allow fire or aerial acts.)
2. What are some specific things VIBF looks for in an application?
Use video with good quality image and sound, clear facial expressions and movement, and consider editing out lengthy hosting intros. The application process itself is all about displaying competence: follow instructions, format the information you provide as requested, include functioning links, and keep responses relevant, interesting, and brief. We have enabled post-submission edits, so we strongly encourage you to review your answers after you have applied, test all your links to make sure they work, and correct mistakes as necessary.
3. Who are the adjudicators?
The adjudication panel includes VIBF's current Artistic Director plus 8 additional adjudicators: these individuals are carefully selected by the Artistic Director (with input from the Board) to form an experienced, knowledgeable, and diverse team that represents and understands the Festival's goals; they may or may not have adjudicated in previous years; current VIBFA Board members do not adjudicate. The adjudicators' identities remain secret until the process is complete; afterward, we reveal and thank them for their work.
4. What does an adjudicator do?
Adjudicators watch and score each act; they are given the applicant's stage name, short bio, act title/description/notes, and a corresponding video link. Adjudicators will NEVER receive any applicant's legal name, email, links, location/nationality, or identity declaration; they are NOT notified if an applicant is a Fresh Face Feature candidate, if an applicant has performed at VIBF in previous years, or if they are a VIBFA Member. Adjudicators work independently, and do not see one another's score sheets.
5. How are applications scored?
We use a simple numerical system: 0, 1, or 2. Each adjudicator considers and assigns a number to each application:
0 = I do not think this act is ready for the VIBF stage
1 = I think this act might belong on the VIBF stage
2 = I strongly believe this act should appear on the VIBF stage
The scores of our 9 individual adjudicators are combined into totals for each act submitted, 18 being a perfect (although rare) aggregated score. If an adjudicator has applied to perform, that person MUST assign any act in which they participate (Solo or Group) a score of 1.
6. Are applications reviewed by each adjudicator in the same order?
No, the applications are presented in a different randomized order to each adjudicator, to counteract burnout; unfair advantage arises from being reviewed earlier in the process (for example: if we presented the applications alphabetically by name, or chronologically by date submitted,) so randomization measures are taken to mitigate this.
7. What is the Artistic Director's role in adjudication?
The Artistic Director is one of the 9 adjudicators and assigns their own score (0, 1, or 2,) to each performance application submitted. This familiarizes the Artistic Director with all of the applications, and helps them make fully-informed decisions during the curation process. The Artistic Director ultimately curates the final selections for the Festival (with input from the Board).
8. How involved is the VIBFA Board of Directors in the act selection process?
The Board works in an advisory capacity with the Artistic Director to select and approve the adjudication panel. No currently serving Board member may adjudicate performance applications. Board members may view/review performance applications and videos at any time, but do not assign scores. The Board is present for the curation meeting, but only in an advisory role supporting decisions made by the Artistic Director. If a Board member applies to perform in the Festival, that member may be present at the curation meeting but will not participate in discussions or decisions surrounding their own performance submission(s).
9. What is curation?
Once the scores have all been added up to create a shortlist of approximately 80 top-scoring acts, curation is the process of trimming that list down to less than half - only 34 performance spots are available to applicants. This preliminary shortlist is generated by the numbers, however: if multiple submissions from the same performer scored favorably, we can only choose one of them; if two acts use the same piece of music, we can't stage both; if two different performers use very similar costume pieces, props, or themes in their acts, the Artistic Director may decide against accepting both and consider other factors to choose which is the best act for the Festival. Acts that receive identical scores are carefully considered, (against each other and against higher-scoring acts,) and they are either accepted or eliminated based on: similarities, differences, themes and tones, whether the Artistic Director wants to include more of a certain type of act (comedy, classic burlesque, weird stuff, variety), upholding our diversity, inclusivity, and representation goals, and achieving an even balance of local and non-local acts. Many factors play into the final curation of the Festival's lineup, and it is not an easy job!
10. What if more than one of my acts scores high?
If the same performer scores high with multiple solos, only one is chosen - not necessarily their top-scoring act, but the one that works best in the context of the overall Festival lineup that emerges during curation. Sometimes, if a high-scoring soloist is also a part of a high-scoring group act, they may appear as a soloist and as a member of that group.
11. Am I more likely to be accepted to perform if I claim an underrepresented or marginalized identity?
No, the adjudication team does not receive your identity declaration information; they are tasked with scoring acts on artistry, entertainment value, and how well-suited they are to appear in a world-class performing arts festival. Applicants' identity declarations help the Board to build an inclusive line-up from amongst the top-scoring acts. It is important to ask "who is not on stage?" and ensure we create space. An act must still be festival-ready to be selected.
12. Why wasn't my act accepted?
Acts are not accepted for a multitude of reasons. We only have room for so many performances; we receive far more applications than we can accept. For example, in 2019 we had 250 applications for just 34 performance spots. In 2018 we had 200 applications for the same number of spots. We cannot predict how many applications we will receive this year, but we anticipate a similar number. Sometimes it depends on who else has applied; we have had to turn down strong submissions in the past due to similarities of costumes/props/music with other high-scoring submissions in the same year. Sometimes an act isn't yet ready for the VIBF stage, but we encourage you to explore ways to improve upon it; just because it wasn't accepted one year doesn't necessarily mean it won't be in the future! Many performers apply multiple times to festivals before they are finally accepted.
13. Do you offer feedback on the acts you review?
No, unfortunately, due to the high number of submissions our adjudicators must watch, they are unable to provide in-depth personalized feedback. Once the adjudicators are revealed, you may wish to reach out to one or more of them personally for a detailed act assessment, and offer to compensate them for their time, expertise, and detailed critique/feedback that will help you assess and improve your performance.
1. How many acts can I submit?
As many as you like! However, we encourage you to stick to submitting acts you feel strongly about; the one(s) you're most confident and well-practised in presenting.
2. Can I submit an application without a video?
No. Think of your application as an audition where the show's directors and producers need to observe your skills, stage presence, personal presentation, and how well you entertain; this cannot be conveyed in writing alone, and anyone can write about how good they are; we can't just take your word for it - it needs to be seen, heard, and proven. Applications without video will not be considered.
3. May I submit more than one video of an act?
No. The adjudicators must watch and score hundreds of videos; we do not ask or expect them to spend more than 5 minutes on each act submitted (as this would be disrespectful of their time, and unfair to all other performers who submitted single videos for review). It should only take one video to convey the quality of an act; if you think you need two or more videos to convey this, you may want to reassess the quality of the performance and/or recording before applying with it.
4. I recorded video of my act in a studio - are studio recordings acceptable?
Yes! We have received studio recordings in the past that blew us away, scored high, and made it to the Festival's mainstage; a great performance will shine in any context. (Sound and image clarity are still important.)
5. I applied with an act in a previous year but it was not accepted - can I apply with the same act again?
Absolutely - we welcome repeat submissions! As long as the act was NOT onstage at VIBF in a previous year, you may continue to submit it for consideration as many times as you want. Acts improve over time; if you have made upgrades to your costume or choreography, learned new skills, workshopped your piece, or obtained a better video of a better performance, these factors may improve your chances of acceptance.
6. I didn't get an email confirmation that my application went through - how can I be sure you received it?
If the email confirmation doesn't show up in your inbox, please check your spam/junk folder, as sometimes they may end up there. If you still can't find your confirmation, your application may not have been submitted successfully. Please email us at if you are unsure, and we will look into it. (Also, if your email provider includes this feature, be sure to add to your list of trusted addresses!)
7. Will VIBF notify me if there is something wrong with my application?
We try to review each submission received, ensuring that it is valid: the appropriate fee has been paid, and the video link works. If we find that one or both of these two requirements is NOT met, we will notify you using the email address you provided with your application. You will be given one chance to fix the issue(s); if not resolved, your application will be disqualified. After the deadline, if we discover that there is a problem with your application (for example: sometimes videos get taken offline by their original uploaders or hosting platforms without the applicant's knowledge) the same rule applies: we will notify you immediately, giving you one chance to avoid disqualification.
8. Will successful AND unsuccessful applicants be notified of whether or not they are in the Festival?
Yes - whether accepted to perform or not, all applicants will receive an email once the final curation process is complete. If you applied with one act, the email will be straightforward and tell you if it was accepted or not. If you applied with multiple acts and one or more was successful, you will receive an acceptance email specifically for the successful act(s) and no email for the unsuccessful one(s). If you applied with multiple acts and none of them were accepted, you will only receive one email saying so.
9. When will I be notified about whether or not my act made it into the Festival?
All applicants will receive an email with the status of their application no later than January 20th 2020.
10. Are you taking host applications this year?
No, there will not be a hosting application form this year; we will be extending invitations to specific hosts.
1. What are the time restrictions for submissions?
The recommended maximum act length for solos is 4 minutes; your act may be shorter, and it may go over by a few seconds, but ideally submissions will be 4 minutes or less. Group acts are limited to no more than 5 minutes onstage.
2. Why is there a time restriction?
The time limit is necessary for estimating and controlling the length of the show; our showcase venue has strict regulations on how long we can occupy the theatre, and the Festival incurs a financial penalty for going overtime. We also don't want to give certain acts/performers more stage time than others (that's a privilege reserved for invited headliners, features, and legends!) and we would prefer to offer a greater number of performance slots for shorter acts, as opposed to a smaller number of performance slots for longer acts. (Our time restrictions this year are based on those required by the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekender.)
3. Can my act be over the time limit?
For soloists, a few extra seconds onstage are allowed, within reason. Group acts may not exceed 5 minutes. If the video version of an act is longer than the allowable time limit, please note which section(s) you will cut. Acts that exceed these limits (with no intention indicated by the applicant to cut for time) will be disqualified.
4. My video is longer than the time limit - is that a problem?
As long as your performance itself falls within the time restriction, or can be cut down, the video you submit can be longer. (Tip: you can help our adjudicators out by linking your YouTube videos so they begin playing after any lengthy hosting/introduction! Just add &t=[minutes]m[seconds]s to the end of your YouTube link. For example, if you want to skip the first 1 minute and 30 seconds, add &t=1m30s to the end of your video link. You can do the same thing on Vimeo by adding #t=[minutes]m[seconds]s to the end of any Vimeo link. Make sure to test your modified URL and see if it works properly before submitting.)
5. My act involves prohibited substances - is there any flexibility on allowing them onstage?
We have allowed food and small/contained amounts of liquid onstage at the Playhouse in the past, but this is decided on a case-by-case basis as our theatre has strict rules around cleanliness. Glitter dumps and fire acts are completely prohibited by the venue. The presence of any of these substances in your act may lower the chances of its acceptance into the Festival for practical reasons. If you are cutting or using something else in place of the prohibited substance, but it is not obvious in your video, please let us know in your application notes! We strongly prefer that you eliminate wet/messy aspects of your act, or substitute something else in their place.
6. I use an aerial apparatus in my act - does your venue have hanging points?
No, unfortunately the Playhouse does not have hanging points appropriate for the rigging of aerial acts.
Fees & Compensation
1. Why do you charge a non-refundable application fee?
The Festival receives hundreds of applications each year; each adjudicator receives an honorarium for their time and expertise during the lengthy scoring process. There is also a considerable amount of administrative work involved in the collection of applications; ensuring that all the applications are valid, paid, and completed correctly. The systems allowing us to collect and process this information online (Google Suite, our web hosting and domain, etc.) are not free services. PayPal also charges a fee on refunds, and direct refunds of transactions can only be made at a loss to our organization.
2. What is the fee to apply?
$20.00 regular price, and only $15.00 for VIBFA Members who renewed or joined prior to November 1st 2019. (All costs are in Canadian dollars; a small PayPal service charge will apply.) We also offer to waive the application fee for performers who would not otherwise be able to apply (see below).
3. Do you offer free applications to those who may have financial barriers?
Yes! We recognize that varying degrees of systemic oppression can make submitting to our Festival inaccessible for some performers; such applicants may claim $0.00 applications on the honour system, sponsored by the VIBFA.
4. Will accepted applicants receive a performance honorarium? If so, how much?
Any individual appearing onstage in an accepted act is guaranteed an honorarium of $75.00 (Canadian dollars) per appearance; the amount may increase, dependent on the success of the Festival.
5. Does VIBF provide financial assistance to accepted applicants for prop transportation, travel, or lodging?
We currently do not cover the costs associated with shipping/transporting props, travel, or lodging. VIBF does, however, facilitate billeting/homestay arrangements within Vancouver's burlesque community for non-local performers requesting a place to stay; the Festival can also help with local logistics by providing and assigning volunteer drivers, or by aiding in the sourcing of common stage props such as chairs, risers, and other equipment that may be difficult to bring in from elsewhere.
1. Would you extend the deadline for me? (I have a really good explanation for why I missed it!)
Sorry, we cannot accept any applications beyond the deadline. We have a deadline for good reasons; inserting additional acts into multiple adjudicators' randomized score sheets during the review process is disruptive, and accepting late applications is disrespectful to other applicants who were organized and ready to go during the application period. Instead of requesting an extension, please consider applying next year!
2. Can I edit my application after I have submitted it? How do I do that?
Yes you may! To review and/or edit your response, open the email confirmation (automatically emailed to you each time you successfully submit an application) and click the "EDIT RESPONSE" button.
3. Can I edit my application after the deadline has passed?
No, you may not; this is why it is so important to review your answers at least once right after you submit them, watch your own video at least once all the way through, and make sure there are no errors.
4. Can I submit a different/better video after the deadline?
No, please do not ask to switch your submitted video with a new or different video of your act after the deadline. Adjudication begins promptly after applications close, videos are reviewed in random order by the adjudicators, and all of them must base their scores on the exact same video for consistency and fairness; it is disruptive to the process, disrespectful of their time, and unfair to other applicants to request that they watch an additional video after having already watched and scored the act.
1. How do I become a VIBFA Member?
If you would like to join the Membership of the VIBFA (Vancouver International Burlesque Festival Association) please fill out the Membership signup form.
2. Are there any restrictions on who can become a VIBFA Member?
As of June 15th 2019, VIBFA Membership is open only to residents of Vancouver and the Greater Vancouver Area; we regret that we cannot grant Memberships to anyone outside of this geographical area. Please note that all Membership fees are non-refundable; if you sign up to be a Member but live outside of the Greater Vancouver Area, the Membership fee you paid will NOT be refunded. (If you have any doubts about whether you live within or outside of the Greater Vancouver Area, please email us at for clarification.)
3. Do I have to be a VIBFA Member to apply?
No, you do not need to be a VIBFA Member to apply as a performer.
4. How does a VIBFA Membership affect my application?
Members who signed up prior to November 1st 2019 receive a discount code ($5 off) for each application; those who join on or after that date pay full price. Members receive advance notice via Members-only email newsletter that applications are opening. There are no other advantages or special privileges to having a VIBFA Membership when it comes to applying, and Members are not given any special consideration during scoring. (Adjudicators are not provided with applicants' VIBFA Membership status).
5. Do I receive a discount on my application fee as a VIBFA Member? How?
Yes - if you obtained or renewed your VIBFA Membership prior to the opening of applications (November 1st 2019), and consented to receive communications from the VIBFA, you will receive a special discount code and payment link via Members-only email newsletter. You will be prompted to enter this discount code during the payment portion of the application process. If you obtain or renew your Membership after applications have opened, you will NOT receive a retroactive discount. (Please note that all Membership and application fees are non-refundable.)
6. Do you offer free VIBFA Memberships to assist applicants who may have financial barriers?
Yes, we do! Sponsored Memberships may be claimed (on the honour system) when signing up for a VIBFA Membership. Please ensure that you have claimed your Membership before applications open to take full advantage of Member benefits leading up to and including the application period. Our Membership signup form can be found here. on the last page of the form, select "I would like to claim a sponsored VIBFA Membership ($0.00)"
7. Am I already a VIBFA Member? How can I check my Membership status?
All annual VIBFA Memberships lapse and become invalid after the Association's AGM (held in the summertime each year, the most recent being June 15th 2019). Memberships must be renewed annually following the AGM. If you did not receive a Members' email newsletter at the start of the application period, you are NOT a current VIBFA Member and are therefore ineligible for the application fee discount. (Out of respect for our Membership's privacy, we do not keep a public list of current Members online.) If you are still unsure if you are a current VIBFA Member, please email us at and we will verify your Membership status.