Archive for April, 2013

The One Thing Every Aerialist Must Know

April 30, 2013 Comments Off on The One Thing Every Aerialist Must Know Safety, Uncategorized, Working in Circus

DRUMROLL……..Answer: Rigging (duh)

Screen Shot 2013-04-29 at 8.45.25 PMDo not go on a professional gig without some basics. Do not rely on other people to know what they are doing. This is the single most important part of being an aerialist. Now, of course, it is all fine and good for me to sit here and wag a finger, but how do you know what you don’t know?

First, take a class if at all possible. It is worth going to another city to do so. Also join the aerial riggers yahoo group and listen to the conversation. Knowledge is power as they say. Find a rigger that is highly recommended and use that person whenever possible. The problems come when a job already has a technical person on it, but you have no idea what their experience actually is and you don’t get to meet them until the actual job. Whatever you do, unless you know for certain that good riggers know this person and recommend them, don’t just trust what they tell you. Double check everything.

What are the actual problems that you run into?

On several occasions, we thought we had made ourselves ultra clear about what we needed only to find something was missing or misunderstood.

Screen Shot 2013-04-29 at 8.44.44 PM

We have been told a rigger has circus experience only to realize they still didn’t know what they are doing. It really helps to have someone you can call if you aren’t sure. Better safe than maimed. A scenario recently that we ran into… We arrived at a gig, were told that the rigger had circus experience and from far away it looked like a straightforward square box truss. Upon closer examination, it appeared what was holding the top section of truss on each leg was some wrapped chain (not secured) and a two by four. First, we made them remove the chain and use truck straps and secured them ourselves with moused shackles. Then for extra security, we had them remove the two by four and put in steel pipes that were thick and had some lip on either end. All this I ran past our amazing rigger friend who okayed it.

Ideal set up for trussThe client doesn’t often know about these things so they may not know who to hire to do it or there may only be one person available locally who does everything. So again it is super important to ask what each part of your rig is rated for separately. Do not be afraid to rock the boat. It is hard to do, but you will feel better and ultimately it serves everyone when you stay safe.

 

 

 

 

Aerial Silks

April 26, 2013 Comments Off on Aerial Silks Uncategorized

Aerial Silk Solo

 

What are Aerial Silks?

As seen in Cirque du Soleil, the artist performs stunning flips, drops, and contortions on two long strands of fabric. Beautiful and elegant, this is our most requested act, and it’s versatility makes it perfect for nearly every event.

What do Aerial Silks look like?

 

 

What does this act need to perform?

Don’t worry – we have rigging options to suit nearly every venue!  This act requires a single rigging point (exposed beam, sky hook, truss, theatrical grid, etc.), and a ceiling height of at least 15 feet (for ceilings under 15 feet, please see “Slammock/Hammock“). Free-standing rigs are also available. Email us at us@imaginaerial.com or call us at 212-252-3131 – we’re happy to answer your questions!

JakartaFAQ’s

  • This act is 6-8 minutes long.
  • You may select one performer, or have a custom-created performance using multiple artists!
  • This act does not swing.
  • This act requires at least 15 feet to be safely performed in its entirety.
  • This act is appropriate for all audiences.
  • There are multiple costumes, music choices, and silk colors for this act.

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The Realities of the Circus Business – Lasting and Staying Sane

April 15, 2013 Comments Off on The Realities of the Circus Business – Lasting and Staying Sane Working in Circus
So you want to be a professional!  I am here to dance on your little dreams until they are only sad deflated memories of their former selves.  Not really. However, I have seen people quit their jobs and go all in, only to be startled that their lives didn’t suddenly become all filmy, bathed completely in lavender light. I think it is helpful to know what you are getting into so you can keep enjoying what you love so much already.
   I encourage everyone to pursue what they are most passionate about (that’s legal that is). I have no regrets doing so myself. While circus is definitely a hard industry, everyone thinks they are in the hardest industry.  It’s hard to make it in science, advertising, medicine, you name it.  However, there are some realities of this business that many artists don’t talk about because they don’t want to disturb the vision they want others to have of them. But here it is..

It is hard to make an income that would allow you to live in an apartment without ten other people and not eat a bagel-only diet

   Unless you sign a Cirque du Soleil contract, or are an extremely attractive and highly trained contortionist/hand balancer/aerialist, or you have a very rare skill that is easy to put in any space and in high demand; you probably won’t be living solely on your performance income.  Now that said, if you have a great act, there may be periods where you could conceivably exist on that pay alone, but there are always going to be dry spells or you could get an injury. Even if you do a show, there will be a time between shows.
   So find another source of income that has flexible hours. I know this makes me sound like your mother, but choosing this alternative carefully will make a big difference in your life. You don’t want to spend half your time just clocking hours. While you may always enjoy performing more than anything else you do, you shouldn’t sacrifice everything to it. It’ll just make you sad and bitter.

 The industry is very up and down

  One day you might feel like the gigs won’t stop coming (and they are all on the same day!) and the next month you might feel washed up. That is the reality: feast or famine.   So don’t go getting a mortgage based on your performance income until you have a good sense of your average.
    Circus also has fashions too. What was cool last year, isn’t this year. The best way to find out what people who are hiring are looking for, is to ask them. If you notice you are getting passed over for jobs, maybe ask them why in a non-confrontational way. Or let them know you want to work more for them.  If your skills aren’t it at the moment , either sit tight and keep honing them or learn something new.

 Decide what you really love about performing

   If what you love is the applause and getting paid to do your skill in any form and you love to constantly change things up, then commercial work is for you. If you like to hone one act, and you like some stability in your life at least for a while then get yourself into a show. However, if what you enjoy is all about creating art and self expression then you should perhaps work more on creating your own shows or working in alternative venues.  Sometimes new performers think that they are going to get paid a lot do whatever they want, but people who pay also have certain expectations. And they must be met.  I have done both downtown and uptown venues, in shows, and there plusses and minuses to each.

Finally, Get a damn hobby!

  Believe it or not, getting paid to do what you love does have a downside. The activity that once made you dance around the park in

sparkles, will now sometimes feel like doing dishes. This doesn’t mean circus will suddenly turn into a complete drag, but it won’t always give you the innocent high it once did.   If you are making your passion your career, then it is important to now find something else to do just for fun. So take up something that doesn’t matter so much, that you can learn without pressure and enjoy just for enjoyment’s sake….Until, of course,  it takes over your life.

Plagiarism and the Circus

April 1, 2013 Comments Off on Plagiarism and the Circus Working in Circus

I noticed a kid next to me in Kindergarten copying the drawing I was making. The solution was simple then. I just took his crayons.  I told him if he cried or told the teacher, I would tell her he was a big copycat. Then I think he hit me in the head with his sandwich.

But, have you ever watched a performance or a video and thought, “Hey, that looks awfully familiar!” It’s annoying at best and makes you want to chew through someone’s trapeze rope at worst.

Nobody likes a copycat, but how do I know when to blow my top?

The problem is that it can either be unconscious or conscious. Unconscious copying is probably the least insidious and comes purely out of ignorance. For example, I was shown a certain transition out of a move by a colleague for a piece that we were doing together. I thought it was a smoother way to get out of the move than the way I had known, so I started to use it in general. I thought she had just been showing me something that was common knowledge, and obviously I don’t know every single new trick that is part of this rapidly expanding art form. It turns out she felt like I had stolen what was hers even though she hadn’t told me it was hers. I felt badly about it.  It was a misunderstanding that we easily worked out, but shit happens. People new to the business, are the ones that most often don’t know when something is proprietary and when it isn’t.

Conscious copying is probably what gets most people the most righteously outraged. Some in our company have experienced egregious examples. We showed one new piece of work to the public only to have absolutely every part of it copied to the letter by someone else two weeks after we showed it. To her credit, she worked fast. However, it didn’t go anywhere. Another colleague of ours actually noticed someone coming to her rehearsals and videotaping without asking. And it wasn’t just a nice stalker.

When to let that crap go..

To some degree you can’t avoid the risk of being copied. If you are a professional, you will perform publicly.  And you don’t want to be paranoid or start falsely accusing. Sometimes people do just come up with the same thing at the same time. The more people are trying to expand their vocabulary on silks (for example), the more likely it is that someone will come up with the same sequence you did. You can’t assume that you are the only one to ever have thought of a certain move. If you feel like you have evidence to prove plagiarism, maybe confront them or at least hint to them that you noticed, if not, let it go.

The same idea goes with a type of apparatus. As annoying as it is to work on a square and have someone else suddenly have ordered the same thing, if they are doing something different than you are on it, don’t worry about it. There are thousands of people using the same apparatus (lyra, trapeze etc) and those pieces all look different. The circus world is probably big enough for two people to perform in giant dream catchers.

What is most definitely not okay is copying a sequence of choreography or the whole concept of a piece or show.  If you get caught, people can start to see you as untrustworthy and in this business, reputation gets around quickly. As a modern dancer, I once witnessed a show in which a choreographer took an entire section Pina Bausch’s “Cafe Mueller.” It was shocking not only ethically, but also in the fact that she thought an entire educated dance crowd would seriously not know one of the most evocative bits of choreography in dance history. But because she wasn’t Pina, it didn’t make a difference in the long run.

 So how do I protect myself from these unoriginal numbskulls?

If you are showing something to someone else and you don’t want them to share it, tell them.  Most people will respect a clear directive.  If a trick feels precious to you, don’t teach it in a class or share it on YouTube.   It’s like leaving furniture out on the streets of NYC. People are just going to assume it’s out there for the taking.

    But then how do I get my work out there on the interwebs for agents and producers to find without risking it being stolen? Don’t show your transitions, just the big tricks, and definitely don’t show your piece from start to finish. Nobody got time for that, anyway.

Is it ever okay to copy? How can I get away with it?

Best way to know is to ask the creator if you can use an idea or move. If you are pretty sure they’ll say no, then DON’T DO IT.  I’ll be honest here. I look on YouTube for inspiration as I think do many people. However, usually whatever I find, I end up morphing so much that the original choreographer probably couldn’t tell it was theirs to begin with. I don’t think there is anything wrong with looking to other artists for inspiration. You will know if you are crossing bounds though if you imagine that person in your audience and you know they would recognize what they saw and be really upset. It takes a ton of time and hard work to come up with something truly original. It’s worth doing because the feeling of success will feel deserved and not just superficial.

If you do find your stuff hijacked, take heart.

At the end of the day, you have more creativity in you than the copycat does. The sad part for them is that they clearly don’t believe they have anything original to offer, even though we all do. It just takes some serious work.

Another thing to keep in mind is that cool new moves are really only for yourself and other circus artists.  Your general audience does not give a crap nor can even recognize differences between acts. It’s about your performance. Below is one video I love to watch for inspiration. Shana Carroll’s piece isn’t particularly virtuosic nor is there anything in there that we don’t know. And yet her piece is totally original and totally her. Nobody else can really do what she does.

Have you dealt with plagarism – intended or unintended? Share your experiences in the comments below!