Opening Caveat! We are not riggers. While a professional qualified rigger was consulted for this blog, this blog is only meant to help you identify red flags and to know when to bring in the expert. Experts take years and lots of math to do what they do well. Please do not go around fixing anything based on what you see here. And really, ask questions, and take a rigging class. In other words, don’t try this at home. Okay, butts covered. Now we may begin.
I don’t know about you but when I started as an aerialist and I heard there was a truss to hang from on a gig, I would relax. To me, it meant I didn’t have to make some judgment call about a hook in the ballroom or figure out how to get around a beam that was covered by a false ceiling with some damn chandelier in the way. All I would have to do is tell the tech person the proper load ahead of time, ride that genie lift, whip out my span set, and boom, finito. Latte sipping til show time.
Needless to say, I’ve wised up. I now send a qualified rigger to check things out (especially if we are using multiple aerialists) when there is a truss involved. I’ve realized that all tech people don’t necessarily listen or know what they are doing, because, well, hanging flying humans is a different thing than hanging lights. Luckily, I listened to my gut, and was able to fix situations that looked wrong. I also have access to an amazing human and rigger, Bill Auld, who is happy to answer questions at odd hours and who is also partly responsible for some of this information. Anything incorrect is probably my error.
Here are some things to look for and to know whether or not you need blow the whistle and get a qualified second opinion, which is why you want to try as hard as possible to speak to the rigger who is setting up your truss if at all possible ahead of time.
Truss comes in a few different flavors – engineers may more accurately call them “configurations.” In big bold terms you want truss that is built to be used for how you are using it. What flavor is that? That is, you need truss that is engineered to be a beam – or lay on its side spanning a gap – that you can then hang from. That is truss that is square or rectangular in shape that has diagonal runs going all the way up the sides and every so often a diagonal ‘chord’ running on the inside. Truss that is marked “antenna truss” is right out. It is meant to be used to stand up on end like a big radio or TV antenna and not laid on its side like you are using it. Any truss that is triangular in nature, or worse ‘flat’ – that is it looks like a ladder (Often called ‘two-dimensional truss’) – should just be passed over and left to engineers.
1. If a chain motor is holding the truss, how many people are on it? What are they rated for? How many are being used? Not all chain motors are the same. Chain motors aren’t made to handle dynamic loads. Generally speaking the gears holding that thing in the air when it is stopped aren’t made for you to be bouncing on them. If it is being hung from a chain motor, is there a way to “dead hang” it once it is up in the air? That is, to haul it up and then tie it off or hang in on proper rigging steel cables so that the first line of defense against gravity is not those gear teeth that don’t like you jumping on them?
2. How is the truss assembled? Does anything look off? We showed up somewhere and found chain wrapped a few times (and unsecured) around the top section of truss then “reinforced” with 2 by 4’s!!! I’m not kidding. A more common mistake when untrained people assemble truss is that they don’t line up the diagonal webs of it. Check where two sections are attached together. Does that diagonal run along the side that makes the endless series of triangles continue unbroken? If so, great. If you are tracing it with your finger and see it go DOWN, UP, DOWN,… DOWN! UP right at the point where two sections are bolted together, then someone assembled the truss wrong. It is not as strong as it could be. Have them take it apart and flip a section so that pattern remains unbroken.
3. Can the truss handle the load the way it is set up? You just have to have common sense. Is there a 50 foot stick going across the room unsupported in the middle? (This just happened, for realz). If so, it won’t handle much in the middle. Find out who made it. Remember the people that make the truss are on your side! They want you to be safe as much as you do and so reputable manufacturer’s of truss often freely post what their stuff can handle – at least in big bold terms. Google is your friend.
4. Does the person who built the truss actually understand dynamic forces? Do they believe you when you say each aerialist can generate 1000 pounds of force? If they don’t or seem surprised by that fact, be nervous. Very nervous.
5. Even if you have sent your tech rider and told them what you need, find out if they actually read it or if the end person got that information. Many times it gets passed around, and never actually read.
6. Neatness counts! “I used to jump out of airplanes for a living and when I did there was a saying bantered about, “Tie your shoes properly or someone dies!” Now that seems like hyperbole if taken literally. What it was referring to was that there is a certain thorough tidiness to a good craftsman’s work. It reflects the idea that if someone takes the time and effort to manage the small things you can see quite easily, they are prone to doing that for all the big things they do as well. That comes from having the discipline to do the job right; something that is both rare and to be prized. Nowhere is this more relevant than with aerial work – either rigging or performing. So apply that to the truss you are about to trust. If you look up and see a truss that has been assembled carefully, the ropes and chains holding it have been coiled and dressed neatly, all the little details have been arranged systematically, and the space has been cleaned up lovingly, than breathe a little sigh of relief. “I cannot say the rigger who did that work knows what they are doing. I cannot even say everything will be fine. But I can say whoever did do that possesses a certain level of training and discipline on the small scale that will have significant effects on the fortitude and safety of your rig on the large scale. And in the end, that may make all the difference in the world.” – Bill Auld.
So there you have it from the horse’s mouth. Obviously, we have not covered all the possible outlandish scenarios here and may have forgotten an important point, so if you have a story of your own or something to add please share!
Dare to Imagine Safety!
On the road, you’re likely to be crammed into a van, tour bus, car, or RV with your new “family” – the (mostly) fantastic folks you get to spend the next few weeks or months getting to hate… er, know. Sanity Saver #1? Give folks their space, and carve out some privacy for yourself, before sh*t gets a little too real.
How Can We Possibly Maintain Any Sort of Privacy While Living and Performing on Top of One Another?
Weeeeeeell, I never said it was easy! You can always spot the newbies on tour – like friendly puppies, all bright smiles and eager faces (if they had tails, they’d wag them). It’s exciting! So many awesome people in one spot, so many cool places to see, AND you’re being paid to do what you love! So much winning!!!! And then, there are the touring vets. They’ve been there and done this. A lot. From day 1, you may notice that they are pleasant, but they don’t want to immediately be seat buddies and share their trail mix stash. Before you take it personally in any way, consider this:
You are going to be in close proximity to all these people for the duration of your tour. First impressions matter, and this is a professional job, not summer camp.
By all means be friendly, and certainly be yourself. That said, remember that those first twenty minutes can set the stage for everything that follows. Be on time, make sure you greet everyone, and keep everything professional for now (it will have plenty of time to get personal later – trust me).
The Honeymoon Period
The honeymoon period lasts for a few weeks, and then that cute thing Warren does with his nose ring is no longer cute – it’s kind of gross. Also? That girl with the screechy voice with no volume button who drinks too much Red Bull and cannot seem to speak below 85 decibels has got to go. Your roommate perpetually forgets to flush, and if you have to eat one more dinner of catered chicken piccata or tray of lukewarm pasta you’re going to go mad. With all the stresses of touring life, being considerate of others isn’t optional (unless Jerry Springer is what you’re going for). Some thoughts:
- Manners matter. Always flush, leave some towels for the other person, never raid their food stash, etc.
- Opposites? Negotiate! Everything is negotiable. For example, Angela and I are opposites when it comes to neatness (she would perhaps say anal-retentiveness) – I like things at right angles and travel with my clothes in coordinated ziplock bags; when she opens her suitcase, it explodes to the four corners of the room. Our solution? Halfsies! I was free to keep my half of the room as sterile as I wished, and she was free to explode on the other. Boom. Problem solved.
- Never speak before coffee. A lot of arguments could be avoided that way.
The Long Haul – Shut Up.
Nuns have a policy of “custody of the eyes” (also very useful on tour). It’s when you keep your eyes to yourself (be conscious of what you allow yourself to see), and can be extended to ears, certainly hands, and voice. People need varying amounts of alone/quiet time, and not getting it can make them certifiably insane (or at least cranky). I’ve seen this work in lots of ways!
- Shut up. No – really – shut up. If you’re a talker, this one can be a toughie! Allow for periods of silence or quiet time. Alone time is golden for introverts, so also consider going for a walk, stepping out for air or to talk on the phone, or taking a long shower.
- Be a respecter of headphones or reading – it means they probably are not interested in chatting right now.
- Not sure if your roomie/partner/cast mate needs space? Just ask!
- Don’t take it personally. Everyone is so very, very different in their need for alone/quiet time/space. It has nothing (well, probably nothing) to do with you! But it does get really awkward when you assume it does, or if you try to punish the other person for not wanting to go out, chat, etc.
- Allow for differences! On several tours we’ve been out on, the cast naturally found a great rhythm. It usually involved the folks who wanted to chat going to the green room, and the folks who wanted quiet staying in the dressing rooms.
The main take-away is to do your best to give others the space they need to do their jobs, keep their sanity, and maintain good relationships. Everything is negotiable, and manners matter! Now, go forth and bring circus to the masses! Dare to imagine, Laura
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As many of you know, our show “The Bizarre and Curious Quest of Killian Cog” underwent quite the metamorphosis this year! We had a phenomenal cast, amazing crew, and a great idea; but, when it came to actually writing the script, well, let’s just say we should have stuck with what we do best – circus! Over time, it became clear that we really needed some help telling our story. In a series of miraculous coincidences, we found the PERFECT person to help! Enter dramaturg (and all around amazing human being) Lauren Feldman.
Dramaturg: a literary editor who consults with authors and edits texts.
Not only is Lauren a stellar dramaturg and playwright, but she’s also an accomplished circus artist herself! This made things SO much easier, as we didn’t have to bring her into our world, explain what an aerial silk is, etc – we just got down to the business of creating theatrical circus. So many of you have asked what this process was like for us, so I figured I’d write up a little bloggie and share!
Stage One – What the Hell are We Doing?
We first met with Lauren in New York City, where we promptly gave her every script, idea, and wild tangent we’ve ever considered. You know how some folks go into their accountant’s office once a year at tax time and dump a huge bag of receipts on their desk? Yeah – that’s about what what we did. When we’d finished, she sat for a moment, and I thought, “this is it. This is where she says it’s just not going to work out”. But instead, she took a deep breath, and began asking questions. Slowly, over the next hour, an unlikely sense of order and possibility took shape. We still weren’t sure anyone could make sense of that tangled mess, but we knew this for certain: if anyone could, it was Lauren.
Stage Two – Where the Hell are We Going?
Over the next couple of months, we had a number of phone meetings. Each time, I would feel so anxious at the start of the call. Too many ideas in my head! Too many technical considerations! Too much to
make and do and fix! But – and this was the most incredible thing about working with Lauren – within minutes, the questions started again, and that tangle of ideas and technical stuff and worry began to be teased apart into something that looked like (gasp!) a story! Every time we hung up the phone, our team was positively euphoric at the direction everything was headed. All those ideas we couldn’t put into words had been translated into something very real, and it was such a relief after literally years of trying to hammer this out on our own.
Stage Three – Why the Hell Didn’t We Do This Sooner?
For the final phase, Lauren came to NYC to watch our dress-tech before we headed out for a one-off in Ohio. Ever-insightful, and with a keen directorial eye, she offered incredible feedback, which added depth to both the story and the performance.
Our team had quite the face-palm moment when all was said and done. You have to know what you don’t know, and be willing to bring in professional help when you need it. I wish with all my heart that we had hired a dramaturg sooner! If you have a story to tell, and it’s just not coming out the way you’d envisioned, RUN (do not walk) to the nearest amazing dramaturg (pssst – I have a great one to recommend). Dare to imagine, Laura
If you’d like to get in touch with Lauren, here’s how!
Lauren loves to roll up her sleeves and sit down with each artist or company, ask questions, watch, listen, share possibilities, and work in tandem with the artist(s) to help them create the strongest, boldest, most artfully crafted version of their work, within their unique process and vision. She has a keen artistic eye; a bold imagination; a fondness for collaboration; and a love of the interplay between style, structure, form, and content.
In addition to working as a circus dramaturg for companies and shows, Lauren offers private lessons to circus artists in
– Act creation (at any stage in the process – whether actively on the apparatus or by sitting and discussing)
– Act development & refinement
– Theatricality & performance skills
– Finding, creating, or utilizing text for performance
Lauren’s plays and circus acts have been seen internationally. She is also a freelance dramaturg, an artistic collaborator, and a teaching artist and professor. She served on the Circus Dramaturgy panel hosted by Circus Now at the Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival, and she offers a workshop on Making Circus That Matters around the country, most recently at the New England Center for Circus Arts/Brattleboro, Circus Now’s CirQ Through/Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival, the Southern Fried Circus Festival/Dallas, and Versatile Arts/Seattle. She holds an M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama, is an alumna of NECCA’s Pro-Track program, and is passionate about the art of crafting live performance.
For more info on Lauren, there’s this: www.laurenfeldman.com
Making Circus That Matters, Philadelphia School of Circus Arts, Fri Feb 19: tinyurl.com/circusmatters
How Do I Start: Ten Different Starting Points for Making an Act, Philadelphia School of Circus Arts, Fridays in March and April: tinyurl.com/circusmatters
Let’s face it, doing ambiance work can be as exciting as watching your toenails dry. While you don’t have to prepare in any way ahead of time, it just lacks the drama of live performance. More and more people are asking for a pretty smiling face to hover mid-air while people mill about below, like the Cheshire Cat at a mad tea party. So how do keep from going insane yourself? Here are some tips and tricks to keep ambiance from being ambivalence.
1. Play with musicality- Play with whatever the DJ plays. Counter the music or use it, but see how you can dance it out a bit (without killing yourself).
2. Think of it as paid training- Sometimes just your attitude can make a difference. When you get to your last set, try to do all the hard stuff you know to build your endurance.
3. Find an audience – Often at these cocktail parties, you could pick your nose up there and no one would notice (in NYC anyway). But see if you can find one person who is willing to look up from their bean dip long enough to watch you, then lock eyes with your audience of one and do a few sequences just for them. Chances are it will make both your evenings.
4. Give yourself a challenge- Set up some obstacle like undoing a habit you have. If you happen to always do things in threes, try doing them in twos or fours. Or try doing all the things you know involving feet.
5. Be a character-Pretend you are specific person or animal up there. Don’t go crazy and start sniffing your own armpits, but see if you can subtly bring a little Bob Fosse or Missy Elliott in there…Or Mary Poppins.
6. Go with how you feel- If you just can’t get it up (aerially), use that malaise to languish in poses a little. Make it slow and sultry, extend slowly, and milk your transitions. You’ll feel less like you are struggling.
There are about a thousand creative ways to keep it interesting for yourself while still staying in the visual background. The main thing to remember is that you are being paid to do something you love. And even if this particular type of work can be challenging, it has its advantages too!
Dare to Imagine – Angela Attia
Circus artists are incredibly disciplined and hard working. In general, we don’t like to complain because we are blessed to have something in our lives we are passionate about, that we love to do. But a big part of what we do physically hurts, right? How many of us were shocked the first time we did aerial work at the pain involved? Even hanging by your knees was brutal in the beginning. But we train through it, because we love it.
The problem is that we are so used to suffering with a smile, that sometimes we simply don’t know how to reach out when we get into real trouble, not just physically, but financially and emotionally as well. We are often afraid to let people know that things are maybe a bit rough behind the curtain. Our lives are unpredictable too. One minute you’re on top of the world and the next, you have an injury that might not only prevent you from performing but from earning money in other ways as well. You aren’t quite sure where your rent is
coming from or maybe even your next meal. You don’t know where to go for help.
There is an organization that all circus artists should know about. It is called the Actor’s Fund. It isn’t just for actors though, it is for all people working in the entertainment industry. Here is just a smattering of the offerings they have: help navigating health insurance, referrals, weekly meetings for anxiety and depression, help with housing, grants for school and transitioning, courses in social media etc etc
They have centers in NY and LA but they have offerings all over the country. It’s worth knowing that there is a resource out there that can help catch us if we can’t catch ourselves.
Dare to Imagine. Angela Attia
The perfect addition to holiday or winter-themed events, a contortionist or balance artist bends and balances inside a gigantic globe filled with snow! Graceful, elegant, and a wonderful surprise for your guests.
What does Living Snow Globe look like?
For additional images of this act, check out ImaginAerial’s Snow Globe page on Pinterest! Click the ImaginAerial button to view all our boards.
What does a Snow Globe Artist need to perform?
This act requires a smooth surface, completely free of anything that might burst the orb (gravel, sharp stones, etc.). The artist also requires a path at least 8 feet wide to the performance area (or a pipe and drape) with electricity nearby to inflate the orb. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 212-252-3131 – we’re happy to answer your questions!
- This act is 6 minutes long for stage shows, or can be performed in 15 minute ambient sets.
- This act requires a surface free of sharp objects which could burst the orb.
- This act requires a path of at least 8 feet to the performance area, and a performance area of 8-10 feet.
- This act requires electricity to inflate the orb.
- A leaf blower is used to inflate the orb, which can be quite loud. Attention must be paid to the staging area.
- This act is appropriate for all audiences.
- There are multiple costumes and orb “fillings” (snow, confetti, feathers, glowing balls, etc.).
- Because the orb is sealed, artists must come out every 15 minutes for their safety.
No lie. About once a week, I receive an email from a budding aerialist with a long list of symptoms (bent this, floppy that, pain when I twirl, etc.), and a request for my “thoughts”. Friends, that’s like asking a plumber for a prescription. In fact, a plumber may be a better bet! I am not a medical professional, and neither are the other 25,000 aerialists you’re asking for advice. So, what to do when you’ve got an ouchie that’s keeping you up nights? (Hint: it doesn’t involve walking on hot coals or coffee enemas… until it does.)
Get a Diagnosis
The wise and wonderful Miss Michele Frances reminded me of how important this is. It’s really scary when an injury begins interfering with training and performance. What we’re really asking when we post on social media is, “Hey! Has anyone had this?! What did you do? Are you OK now? How long did it take?” And all these are 100% perfectly reasonable questions! But step one, no matter what, is to get a proper medical diagnosis. As in go to a doctor. To be clear – a massage therapist should not be diagnosing you, a coach should not be diagnosing you, Twitter should not be diagnosing you. If it’s interfering with training, time to see someone with MD attached to their name.
What if I Can’t Get a Diagnosis?
We’ve probably all had the experience of going to a doctor and getting an incorrect diagnosis, or an inconclusive one. If you know in your body and gut that you were not correctly diagnosed, your doctor doesn’t understand what you do, or they weren’t able to pinpoint a problem, go to step 2: get a referral for a specialist, preferably one who deals with dancers, gymnasts, and athletes (you should have one of these on speed dial anyway). Don’t stop until a) you have a diagnosis that rings true and b) a plan for rehabilitation that you can live with.
Facebook – What did YOU Do?
Once you have a diagnosis and a plan for rehabilitation, this is where I think social media shines: community. It’s so incredibly encouraging to hear other’s experiences of things that alter our training: pregnancy, injury, time away, etc. Knowing that you’re not the only one, how others have coped, and what you might expect is so comforting. Just remember though – you’re asking your peers, NOT a therapist.
Personal sharing time! I developed intense tendinitis and bursitis in my shoulder during my early training. When I went to see Doctor #1, he said I would never climb again. Obviously, this was unacceptable. Referral time! Went to a sports medicine doc who specialized in shoulders. He said if I left it untreated, I would need a new shoulder by 35. OY! He pointed me towards Kinetex in Montreal (where I was living and training at the time), and I made an appointment. In the meantime, I made the mistake of getting several deep tissue massages at the urging of my friends. It felt SO GOOD during the massage, but my inflammation went through the roof afterwards. When I finally made it to Kinetex, the therapist nearly wept when I told her. “Non, non, NON! Eet ees like scratching a rash! NON! Non massage!” She also rolled her eyes at the first doctor’s proclamation that I’d never climb again. “Psssssht! Eet ees tendinitis, not your arm falling off! Of COURSE you will climb again!” In the end, after plenty of PT (which I still do, by the way), a round of heavy NSAID therapy, a mess of acupuncture, and years of much more careful training, I’m still climbing.
It’s so tempting to ask our peers rather than a doctor, especially with the cost, effort, and frustration often involved in getting a proper diagnosis. But it’s not reasonable to expect your peers to diagnose your physical problems – they simply are not qualified to do so. Let medical professionals do what they do best, and let our community do what they do best: provide support, suggestions for coping, and direction to the appropriate specialist. Don’t give up until you have a diagnosis and treatment plan that will work for you! Dare to imagine, Laura
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ImaginAerial once again quite literally lit up Times Square with beautiful new flashy high tech costumes and props. Whether blinding people while pouring champagne and hanging by ankles, or spinning LED hoops, or lighting up the night with costume characters. We rang in the new year right in the heart of NYC.
We all know the scenario. It’s been a long night, the party is starting to wind down when Mister Drunk-and-Entitled decides it’s his big moment to prove his athletic prowess to any possible “America’s Got Talent” producers in the room. Other than rolling your eyes and muttering “here we go again”, What to do?!
Even though we have to start with stating the obvious, first we try to preempt the situation whenever possible by getting that apparatus up and out of the way during a party’s twilight. Obviously that isn’t always possible. So if it is hanging stark naked in the middle of the room, get a tall person to daisy chain it to its highest height, then get three chairs or put stanchion underneath it. However, sometimes you just can’t avoid leaving that apparatus vulnerable the Four Great Silk Menaces.
Here we go:
The Curious George: this person doesn’t really mean any harm but just starts to get into a little more mischief than they should. They come up to your silk and feel the fabric, then maybe give it a tentative tug and suddenly they are leaning forward trying to weight bear on the thing. The easiest way to deal with them is to joke around. Let them know when you are holding auditions or where they can take classes. Let them know you are happy to answer any questions, but this isn’t the time or place to let them try anything out. Just try to engage them while getting between them and your apparatus. No need to go full throttle on these folks. They scare off easily.
The Grabby Groomsman/Bridesmaid: These people are usually quite drunk when they decide it’s time to suddenly fulfill their big circus dream that they never knew they had until that moment. This is when you pull out either the statements about how insurance does not cover this kind of activity or you try and get someone from the venue (preferably a 250 lb security guard) to help you convince them they need to come down ASAP.
The Rabble Rousers: This scenario is when things get kicked up a notch. Groups are tougher to control than individuals because they can feel emboldened by peers. Often one person attempts to get on and as soon as you’ve gotten them off, another tries to get up, like partygoer whack-a-mole. This is when you get loud and extremely serious. Bang something loudly on the floor, whistle, or yell one long sound. Whatever to get all their attention at once. Then say very slowly “Get off the silk NOW!!” Usually this will break up their party mode enough to realize it’s no fun anymore.
The Jerky Kid (and personal back-up dancers) of the Client: This is the most difficult situation of all. It’s a group of drunk young punks who think they own everything in the room and whose parents have never told them no. Often the party planner disappears because they don’t want to deal with the boss and the dad may even be egging his hilarious precious brat on. The best thing to do here is to remain calm. This situation is not about curiosity, but mostly about power and boundaries. The kid wants to prove he can do whatever he wants and no one can stop him. The best thing to do is separate out and confront individuals of this group. Ask how they would feel if you just grabbed their stuff and started using it without asking etc. If people get confronted individually (make them look you in the eye) and no longer feel like they can hide in the group, they are more likely to back off. Once you’ve gotten the support base reduced a bit, then you can start to confront the kid. Ask him if he’s done or if he thinks what he’s doing is kind or respectful. If you take yourself out of the position of authority and position yourself as a person, and he is realizing he’s not getting a rise out of you, then he may be more responsive. If not, you may just have to wait the joy ride out then climb on the silk yourself and sit there until they are gone. Just don’t start trying to pull the kid off, he could get hurt and that would be the exact thing you are trying to prevent.
Just remember that people are often rather ignorant and it increases with alcohol consumption. The important thing is just to keep you, the person and your silk as safe as possible. Don’t worry about hurting feelings, they probably won’t remember it anyway.
Dare to Imagine. Angela Attia
Here at ImaginAerial world headquarters, we get at least a few video links a week. So it’s safe to say we’ve see a lot of promo videos. They range from someone doing contortion on the edge of a cliff in the desert to jumpcuts of industrials that would make your head spin. SO how to stand out without getting to far out there?
Now I’ll be honest, we don’t often hire based on a video. It’s like committing to a romantic vacation with someone whose profile you saw on a dating site. It makes me nervous. That said, sometimes we do. I’ve done it when we need a really different kind of act or a special combination of skills (like ground and aerial) or the gig is in a location that only makes sense to hire locals. So video comes in handy.
Believe it or not, I’ve also hired people based on a rehearsal video. Skill is skill. And some people who just graduated from circus school haven’t had a chance to get enough footage yet. I get it. That said, it doesn’t hurt to put your best foot forward and put a decent promo reel out there.
Here is what it should have:
1. Your best tricks- if you can do something hard put it toward the beginning!
2. Your variety of skills-don’t write me that, oh by the way you can also do Rola Bola. If it’s not on Vimeo or YouTube, it doesn’t exist.
3. Your personality-if your promo is a little funny then I want to watch it again or share it. It will make it stick in my memory. However, just be sure that you don’t get too cutsie. But if it makes me think I’d like to hang out with you. Great.
4. The kinds of shows you’ve done-if they are only student shows or rehearsals, it isn’t a deal breaker but if the person watching is on the fence, it won’t help you if it doesn’t seem like you are a real professional.
5. Good footage-Tape every performance you do with a good camera if you can. You don’t have to hire an editor, just get to know some editing software yourself as you know what will stand out the most to people that are hiring.
On the other hand, your video should not be:
1. Unedited- I have 1 minute to decide if I need to see more or you in or you are out. I don’t want to see you dance around your silk on the floor for that minute.
2. Edited too much- If I can’t see anything at all, I will get frustrated. I want to see some transitions and sequences. It’s not about showing off your video editing skills but what you can do. Too slickly packaged anything makes me think it is covering up a lack of substance.
3. Too hard to find- Whatever makes your act different, tag it that way. I get frustrated when I’m looking for hula hoopers in Detroit or lyra people in Houston and I can’t find a thing.
4. Overly “creative”- don’t show anything in a mask, on the edge of a cliff, or in your bathroom. Your creativity should show through your movement, not the dressing.
Finally, If you update or add, let people know. It’s okay to remind people you are there or what you are up to couple of times a year. Also, really important, let people know where you are from or where you will be. If you are from the Ukraine, I hate to say that we will not be going through red tape etc to bring you on a gig here. However if you are based in Florida but come to NYC to visit family, let us know!
One last thing to note.. If we ask you for footage to add to our reel, be flattered! It means we think your act has the potential to be hired and it’s different from what we have already. Also, if we ask you then you will always get first refusal. If we stop using you completely for one reason or another or if no one seems to be buying your act, then we also probably won’t use your video because clients get attached to who and what they see.
The video is just one tool. And you can always change it. Also, you might have a fabulous promo, but just not the set of skills or style a company needs at the moment. If in doubt, put it up on social media and ask for feedback and then don’t take it personally…BUT ladies and gentlemen, that is another BLOG! Happy editing.
Dare to imagine,