Archive for June, 2014

Sparkly Banana Hammock??!!! When Show Costumes Do NOT Work for Your Act

futurechicken.jpegP1010267_editedIf you’ve done any sort of touring or joining up with shows (or hope to), you’re bound to encounter some costume dilemmas that make you nervous. Really nervous. What happens when someone wants you to wear something that won’t work for your act? Step awaaaaaaay from the sparkly banana hammock….

Storytime….

futurechicken.jpegAngela and I toured for many years with a sassy duo trap act which included a roll around the bar. Any duo who has incorporated this move into their act will, at some point, become incapacitated with laughter (and sometimes just incapacitated) when your leggings or unitards entwine around the bar, and you are stuck stuck stuck in the most indelicate of positions. Your only options are roll backwards (sometimes nearly impossible depending on how your costume has become wrapped), take your pants off, or have someone lower your point.

We were performing at the Casino Estoril , and the show was providing our costumes. We sent a list of our needs, and arrived to find costumes that needed some adjustments. The one we REALLY pushed for was the tightening up of the material in the midsection. They did this for us, and our run went off without a hitch. HOWEVER. We were replaced by a lovely lyra duo, who also had a roll around the bar. They were more petite, and consequently, our costumes were a bit looser on them. When they asked to have them adjusted, they were told (wait for it….), “The girls before you never had a problem.” So, they left it. Guess what? During the show one night, they became so tangled that the lyra had to be lowered, and they had to scoot offstage still attached. Want to keep this from happening to you? Read on.

From Your Employer’s Point of View

 

Medieval Angels

Medieval Angels

As a pretty DIY company, we make all our costumes in house. We have a vision for how we want a show or event to look, and how your act will fit into it. As aerialists, we also have an idea of what may be a no-go (you are not usually working with people who understand performers needs). Sometimes, making adjustments to a costume may require taking the entire thing apart, or re-designing from scratch. So, it’s in our best interests to only make changes that MUST be made, and put the onus on you the performer to make the rest work. We also may be going for a specific look – it may be a bit of a pain in the tush, but the result is worth it.

Fcostumeor example, this is the Angel Statue costume from our Killian Cog show (it’s not usually wet – it’s in the process of being dyed). It’s long and flowing, and was created for the duo Spanish web act. Let’s be clear: no performer looks at a long, flow-y costume goes “Oh goody! Tons of fabric to work around!” But, these beautiful performers made it work, and the visual impact in the show was stunning.

 

Negotiating Your Costume

First, determine your needs. If you have a single shin to shin, you need shins uncovered. Period. Roll around the bar? Tight costume mid-section. You many need head/neck free, nothing hanging off, the list goes on and on. Determine those needs, and fight for them if you have to. If you get a lot of push-back, explain to your employer WHY this is so important (they often have no idea why one might not want slippy fabric when you’re hanging by a toe….).

Is the costume just kind of a pain to work around? Do you have to make small adjustments to your act to accommodate it? This is where you have to suck it up and be the pro you are. If it’s a few weeks or a month, really try to make it work. If it’s a long tour, see if you can partner with the designer to come up with a compromise that suits the show, and doesn’t require too much sacrifice on your end.

Bottom line, safety is a non-negotiable. Also, as a performer, you want your act to look amazing (trust me – your client does too). Really try to work with designers and employers to find that happy medium between what the show requires and what you need to look spectacular. Dare to imagine, Laura
 

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Call the Waaaaaaaaaa-bulance! How Whining and Complaining Equals Less Work for You

June 10, 2014 Comments Off on Call the Waaaaaaaaaa-bulance! How Whining and Complaining Equals Less Work for You Uncategorized, Working in Circus
Laughter keeps shows & rehearsals light!

Laughter keeps shows & rehearsals light!

Truth be told, this lesson is one I wish I had figured out earlier in my career. Much earlier.

Ask respectfully and clearly for what you need. DON’T whine, bitch, complain, kvetch, gripe, grouse, grumble, moan, bellyache, fuss, nag, or snivel.

We have needs as performers, and when show day gets hectic, sometimes it feels as if those needs may not get met. But here’s where you get to ask yourself: is this something I really NEED to perform safely and well? Or is this something that would be nice to have, but is not essential?

Needs

  • Try to handle this yourself. If necessary, bring it to the attention of the stage manager, or appropriate person. State your needs clearly and respectfully. Ex: “After they set lights, I just need 10 minutes to double check my rigging. Will that be a good time?”
  • Be patient. There is a LOT that goes into setting up a show, and you may have to wait a bit before getting what you need.
  • Remember that bad behavior almost always gets back to the folks in charge, resulting in less work for you. No bueno.
  • Examples of needs – time to check rigging, time to check lighting levels, time to do a quick jump onto your apparatus to check the “feel” in a new space, etc.

Wants

  • Wants are the “gravy” of show day – nice, but not essential. By all means request them, but don’t get your panties in a bunch if they don’t magically appear.
  • Examples of wants – time to run parts of your act (beyond what you need for safety), time to work with the music, ample warm-up space (sometimes, you’ve just got to use the hallway), etc.

 

I have definitely done my share of kvetching (and still do), but I assure you – it doesn’t endear me to anyone. It doesn’t endear you to anyone either. If you whine, complain, or (worse) pitch a hissy fit when you don’t get what you want on show day, folks will hear about it. You will be labeled drama whether you actually are or not. And – true story – drama doesn’t get hired (unless you’re Lady Gaga). Let’s work on this together! Have you struggled with complaining? Any tips for keeping it to a minimum? Share it in the comments below! Dare to imagine, Laura

 

  

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“I Have Ebola and My Arms Fell Off!” How to Back Out of a Show

June 3, 2014 Comments Off on “I Have Ebola and My Arms Fell Off!” How to Back Out of a Show Uncategorized, Working in Circus

Hey friends! Long time no chat. We’re getting Killian all spiffed up and ready to head back out to Ohio in July – whew! But, we figured that a little quality time was long overdue.

No one wants to back out of a show (particularly a paid one!), but sometimes stuff comes up! The way you handle this is what separates the pros from the noes.

 

Something Better Came Along

I’ve been there, you’ve been there. You say, “Sure I’ll perform at your All Nude Showcase Cirque-Stravaganza!” Then, you book paying work. Or, you commit to a gig, and book a tour. It happens! And, when it does, you have your work cut out for you.

  • We understand! This is a very real part of our business. Call (DON’T EMAIL) the person or company who hired you ASAP and explain the situation.
  • Be prepared to replace yourself. One of our very favorite acts once accidentally double booked himself (yep – that was fun). He immediately offered a list of potential replacements, checked their availability, and offered to personally cover any extra costs associated with transportation or differences in artist fees. That made our lives much easier, and saved the professional relationship.
  •  You may have to suck it up and stick with the original contract if you have a very unique act, or if there simply isn’t time to bring in a replacement. Contracts are legally binding, so don’t even think about being a no-show unless you want to end up getting the pants sued off you (also? It’s a small business – shenanigans like that get around). It’s also a matter of integrity – you want to be known as someone who honors their commitments.
  • Paying work always trumps free showcases – don’t feel too bad. Give as much notice as you can so as not to screw people over, and don’t make a habit of it. If you book a ton of work last minute, don’t sign up for showcases!

You’re Genuinely Sick or Injured

This is a reality in our business. We watched half the cast get felled with infectious diarrhea once in Venezuela – it was a party. If you are too sick to perform, or an injury happens that you cannot work around, try this.

  • Try to make the person who hired you’s life easier (replace yourself, give as much notice as you can, etc).
  • Be honest with yourself about your limitations. If you have any questions about whether you’ll be able to perform (you’re pregnant, you’ll be recovering from surgery, you badly sprained your wrist, etc), you owe it to yourself and to your client to alert them to the situation to avoid last-minute drama. They may take a wait and see approach, or they may need to replace you. Either way, they’ll be glad you fessed up.
  • It’s pretty obvious when someone is truly too sick to go on. Some things come on very quickly, and there’s truly nothing you can do about it. If you won’t spread ebola to 20 people, and it’s possible for you to safely get there, it’s worth showing up so the client can see you making an effort. If you truly cannot leave your sick bed, you’re going to have some repair work to do when you get better. We saw this handled nicely once: an artist we were working along side of was felled with the flu the morning of an event – sick sick sick. When he was better, he called the company, apologized again, and offered to do a free event to make up for the drama. It was a nice gesture, and much appreciated by the company. They still work together to this day! However you handle it, definitely follow up and do whatever you can to make it right.

You Have a Personal Emergency

  • Make sure you are being scrupulously truthful here! Honesty is always the best policy. People can be perceptive, and you do NOT want to be caught in a fib. Also, people are more understanding than you think – we’ve all been there!
  • Above rules apply. Do everything you can to take good care of the professional relationship!

 

Best Video on Backing Out Ever

Applies mostly to non-paying commitments, but I found this super helpful. I hope you do too!!!!!  Have you ever had to back out of a gig? How did you handle it? Tell us in the comments below! Dare to imagine, Laura