Archive for November, 2013

How Dropping your Price actually affects YOU

We have all heard a lot of buzz recently about what is an appropriate price and how important it is to keep it high for the community, for the market etc etc. You might even feel a little like Big Brother Aerial is watching you. And if you get found out, someone named Boris is going to take out your knees (which he will. Or Laura, she’ll do it too). And yes, of course, the community is important and dropping your price below market rates is not nice or fair to others. And it is better to think long term rather than short term. Working for peanuts isn’t sustainable, yada, yada, yada.

But really, doesn’t it feel like you got away with something?! I mean, you are working right? And all the time, right? You are still getting to do what you love and getting rewarded in at least some way, you know?! I mean who will know? Just this one time, and that’s it. You won’t do it again. You swear. You need just a little more experience really, then you will charge more. The market is terrible, you HAVE to do it or you won’t work. You live somewhere where people just won’t pay those kind of prices. You desperately need money to pay whatever it is that came up this month. Real artists do what they do for love not money. Why should anyone else dictate your price to you? It’s okay this time, because it is an easy gig. Hey, it pays for rehearsal space right? You just need to get your foot in the door, then you will raise your price. You will just pretend to everyone you are charging more.

Just. This. Once.

Excuses often sound like well, excuses. We’ve probably all made them at one point. I know I have! But soon you will start to realize that charging less than everyone else means you think you are WORTH less than everyone else is. People have a way of finding out if you are undercharging, they just do. And it all feeds on itself. You can see them seeing you as worth less. Worthless.

I strongly suggest you keep your self-destructive behavior to the kitchen or the bedroom. Eat a bag of cookies, have sex with someone you just want to throw out the door with his/her shoes flying after them, but value your art. Your art reflects your very essence in a way. And yes, that is hard to put a price on, but that price certainly isn’t less than others who do exactly what you do. If you think you aren’t really good enough to be a professional yet, then hang back. I know you are itching, but a little more time won’t hurt. Practice more, get advice, do recitals, LEARN RIGGING. Don’t put yourself out there until you are confident you can play with the big dogs. And when you are, charge what they charge with confidence.

Don’t be grateful for scraps. Don’t be ready to get talked down. I remember one time that Chase tried to tell us they had no money for their Christmas party. They are a BANK. They store the stuff. I asked them if I could get a mortgage for half the going interest rate because, I just couldn’t afford it otherwise. Yeah, right. If people can afford you, they can afford you. If they can’t, they can’t. Even if you lose a few gigs (and you will, for sure), you will walk away feeling better about yourself. You train people to value you and what you do on a very personal level. The only way to do that is to start with valuing what you do yourself. I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and godamnit, I’m worth a lousy $800.

Now with everything, there are exceptions. Artistic shows or cabarets are big ones, but they can make you feel worthy in other gratifying ways. You can be edgy, try out new material etcetera. The main thing is: do you walk away feeling good or just kind of good enough?
Living the dream is awesome, but so is feeling good about yourself. If you still don’t believe you can do it, seriously explore with a professional therapist what makes you look at yourself so harshly. I know this sounds a little corny, but here it goes, I’m saying it… Dare to believe in you.

Dare to imagine- Angela Attia

PS. Please share thoughts and comments. Sorry about the lack of visuals but I’m out of town and my IPad is a bit handicapped.

Flexibility…It Ain’t What you Think. Becoming a Professional, Part 4.

November 11, 2013 Comments Off on Flexibility…It Ain’t What you Think. Becoming a Professional, Part 4. Working in Circus
Make your mind like this.

Make your mind like this.

Obviously, to be an aerialist, you have to be flexible. You are probably spending a lot of time stretching. However, while sitting on your own head gets you in the door, it’s another kind of flexibility that will keep you in the running! Below are some of the ways that we need people to bend over backward for us to make gigs happen.

Scheduling 

I honestly can’t talk about other places in this regard, but in NYC, this is a real issue. Busyness is a way of life.  If you have a 9-5 job, chances are you will get hired less because that is when rehearsals happen. It is very hard to work around everyone’s various teaching and work schedules, so, when we know someone can move things around a bit to accommodate the craziness, it makes a huge difference.

 

Laura will eat anything!

Don’t try to take Laura’s food from her!

Food restrictions and eating

This one is a toughie. True food allergies are something you can’t do anything about. And I understand the reasons behind being vegan or gluten free. The problem is, we often don’t have a lot of control over our food – especially when we are abroad or on tour.  If tell the venue “no meat of any kind,” the hosts might still offer fish as the alternative. If a performer simply complains or eats only salad for several days, that isn’t good either. If you do have food restrictions, make it very clear you will take care of yourself properly, even if it means bringing your own food. If every meal is a struggle, it will soon become a bigger problem. If your food restrictions are by choice, it might not be a bad idea to be a little flexible and make some exceptions here and there.

Gig Day call times

Often, things change last minute on gig day. Suddenly, we can’t get in the venue when we thought, or the rehearsal time changes, etc. It’s often out of our control. Because of that, it’s always a good idea to leave the whole day of a gig free, or only schedule things that can be changed last minute. Because of the space, we may need you to be there at 5 pm for set-up (even if you don’t go on until 8:30 pm). The fewer complaints we hear about things like this, the better off everyone is.

Gig Day physical changes

Day of a gig, we try very hard to determine everything as clearly as possible ahead of time. Experience has really taught us what to emphasize and look out for! That said, we can be given wrong information, or not told something it would have been nice to know. We’ve had a couple of occasions where the ceiling height has been off completely, and once they neglected to tell us we would be performing outside instead of inside (ah, El Salvadore!)!  The more people can deal, the better off we all are.  Sometimes we have to throw you a different costume at the last second, or the platform isn’t the exact size they said it was. Doing your best to accommodate these changes (within the bounds of safety, of course) makes the people who hire you breathe easier.

When not to be flexible

Safety first.

Safety first.

There is such a thing as being too easy going! The two areas where it is important to be a little more rigid are safety and pricing. As a company, while we do our absolute best to troubleshoot everything, we need someone to speak up when something is truly unsafe (like a table or chandelier being too close to your performing area, or a drunk person playing on your apparatus). Slightly annoying is one thing, and unsafe is another. As all New Yorkers know, if you see something, say something.

In addition, while it is sometimes acceptable to drop your price for certain types of shows, do not do it the first time you work for someone. You will never get it back up to the proper range again.  Make it clear (if you do drop it) that it is a special favor and not appropriate for corporate events. Then, stick to it! You might lose a gig, but you will gain some respect.  There are a lot of companies out there that only pay $400 an aerialist for corporate and private events (long-running shows or tours are different). If you work like that, make no mistake, you will work a lot.  However, you will then get a reputation that’s hard to shake! You don’t want to be stuck working yourself to the bone forever, doing gigs where no one cares enough to even bother watching you. Support a living wage for aerial and circus artists!

Dare to Imagine-Angela Attia

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Be an artist. What it takes to become a working professional part 3

November 5, 2013 Comments Off on Be an artist. What it takes to become a working professional part 3 Uncategorized, Working in Circus

So we’ve spoken in the last two blogs about cooperation and work ethics, but obviously you can get away with more when you are hot stuff. So, how do you know if you are hot stuff? Obviously it is a plus if you have ballerina feet and you can sit on your own head, but don’t rely on those things to get you the job. They might not be enough to get you hired (winning personality aside). Here are six questions we ask ourselves regarding new recruits.

 

She sees the audience!!

She sees the audience!!

Do you capture the audience?

See blog on stage presence.   Mainly, do you look out and connect, or do you go all internal? Very hard to pull off “internal performing” unless you have tricks that no one else has. Also? Boring performers can always work in group pieces, but often we need artists to be both “chorus” and soloists. Being ho-hum or lacking stage presence limits you!

Can you count music? 

This matters even if we aren’t doing a group piece. There are a number of stellar performers we can’t use because they can’t “hear” music. We know they are only good on their own or in free form sections. This limits how and when we can use them.

Do you learn quickly?

Are you familiar enough with your apparatus to pick up choreography in a couple  of rehearsals? Lately, we have been getting last minute calls which means we have to get pieces done fast – speed and precision become essential. If we’re booked 10 days prior to the gig, we don’t have the luxury of a month in rehearsal!

 

she worked hard for this!

she worked hard for this!

Do you have some range?

Can you perform in a variety of ways? Yes? Then we can use you in a variety of shows. If all you can do is sexy, you will limit yourself a lot. Even when performing on your own for fun, change it up and show people what you can do. You never know who is watching!

Do you keep improving?

Sometimes people are good enough for us to use for small local events or low budget shows, but they aren’t quite ready for the big time yet. If they show us every time they perform that they have a new trick or they are that much more solid than a few months ago, we are more likely to use them if something big comes up. People who just never really work hard enough to make big improvements get stuck with the lower paying local work all the time.

 

Can't hurt to have a little acro up your sleeve.

Can’t hurt to have a little acro up your sleeve.

Do you have a wider skill set?

Let me tell you what is really in demand: ground acts. If you can develop a good solid ground act in addition to an aerial act, you will work way more. That is all there is to it.  Especially with touring shows where hotel and per diems can really add up. The more you can be used, the more likely you will get hired over someone else. Even if you can’t do a ground act, make sure you have at least another solid aerial act available.

 

Finally, it is always a combination of good training and some natural talent that makes a great performer. We’ve seen a number of seasoned performers who think they know what their strengths and weaknesses are, but actually have no idea.  The best way to find out what you need to work on is to ask your teachers or other professionals you trust. Tell them you need complete honesty.  Sometimes criticism may be hard to take, but if you can be open to it then you open all kinds of possibilities for yourself!
Dare to Imagine,  Angela

 

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