Archive for July, 2015

Booked a Gig? Book the Day!

July 28, 2015 Comments Off on Booked a Gig? Book the Day! Working in Circus
Juggling

Michael is a consummate professional – we love working with him!

Question: When you book an event, how much of the day should you plan on giving to the show? How long should you expect to be there?

Answer: All day. All. Day.

Wait – Really? All DAY?!

Well, yes! I know it seems extreme if you haven’t worked a lot of events, but hear me out.

First and foremost, we are part of a larger “event machine”. The banquet manager, event planner, etc have to juggle catering, room set up, DJ or band, stage set up, flowers and decor, sound system, lighting, and about a thousand other things. Consequently, rigging and rehearsal doesn’t happen at our convenience! Let’s break this down so you can see how this might work:

“If cocktail hour starts at 6:00 with champagne aerialists, rigging needs to be completed no later than 4:00 so they can finish setting the tables. Rigging seems straightforward, but the decorator wants to swag fabrics from the center of the ceiling, and can’t do that until everything is up. Normally we would start rigging around 2:00 or 2:30, but we need to start earlier to accommodate the ceiling swag. OK – rigging at 1:00. The gig is in NJ, and we’re leaving from NYC. It’s a Saturday, so we can expect more traffic. On an easy day, it takes an hour and 15 to the venue, but we have to allow an extra hour in case of delays. Departure at 11:00. We want to do a quick spacing rehearsal for the ground acts, but the floor won’t be down until 3:00. At that point, the genie lift will be on the floor for the decorator to do the ceiling. Can we come earlier to rig? The decorator doesn’t need the floor down to use the genie lift, so we can rig, he can swag the ceiling, then the floor goes down, and we can see if the German wheel has enough space on the dance floor. Departure is now at 10:00 am.”

Do you see how that sometimes works? Good – it’s important to know that we are not trying to waste your time. You might ask why you’re even there early to begin with; I mean, after all – you’re just doing a hand balancing act at 9:00 pm! Believe me – we get it, sometimes we’re asking ourselves the same thing. The easiest answer boils down to two things: transportation, client. If we need to send everyone in the same van, ground acts are going to be there earlier and stay later to accommodate the aerialists. If this doesn’t work for you, another option is to plan your own transportation on your own dime. BUT, consider that this may be a client issue. Often, clients want everyone there early so they don’t have to worry, or they want everyone there for rehearsal, or they want a little sneak peek at what they’re getting. Remember – the client signs our paycheck, and in essence signs yours too. We advocate heavily for our artists, but if the client wants to see you, you’ll be there.

 

Are There Exceptions?

Of course! Here are a few:

  • You let us know when we booked you that you were only available after a certain time, or needed to leave at a certain time. Totally acceptable, as it places the onus on us as to whether or not to cast you knowing your time constraints.
  • You’re trying to squeeze something else into your day. It’s perfectly fine to ask for time parameters for an event – we’ll give them to you if we know them. That said, know that things change all the time in events, and you should be prepared to cancel whatever else you’re squishing in if something shifts.
  • If you’re doing someone a big favor. The bigger the favor, the more leeway you have.

 

Events are a weird kind of showbiz, and anyone who’s worked in showbiz for even a little while knows that it’s little things that separate the pros from the no’s. We hire the best of the best, and they consistently prove it to us by going above and beyond – doing whatever has to happen to make a gig shine. Committing to a full day of whatever is needed is a great way to get noticed – and hired – again and again. Special thanks to Chris Delgado and Michael Karas, who made us look goooooood this weekend in Atlanta! Best of the best. Dare to imagine, Laura

 

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You Can’t Learn if You Pretend You Know Everything

July 14, 2015 Comments Off on You Can’t Learn if You Pretend You Know Everything Uncategorized, Working in Circus

In an age of competition, grandstanding, and every kind of pride under the sun, today I wanted to give a shout-out to a forgotten virtue: humility. What is it? Does it have a place in the artistic market? And, most importantly, is being too big for your britches keeping you from learning anything new? (hint: yes.)


“Real learning comes about when the competitive spirit has ceased.” ― Jiddu Krishnamurti


Kate editFirst, let me say that I’ve spent a good deal of my professional life being too big for my britches, literally and figuratively. It’s practically de rigueur for artists stepping into a cut-throat market to pose, posture, and puff up in the face of their competition; I surely did my share, and suffered for it.

Know What You Know… And What You Don’t Know

Knowledge is good. Experience is good. Knowing what you don’t know? Extra good.

Now, before you say, “How do I know what I don’t know??!!”, I invite you to think that through. There are lots of levels in the knowledge/experience game, but let’s condense it down to three for the sake of the inter-webs.

  1. High Level/Expert – You know your stuff, and have been at it a long time. You are recognized by your peers as an expert in your field, and your advice and input is often sought.
  2. Mid-Level – You have a solid knowledge base, and have been working hands-on for a while. You have a good sense of the multiple elements that make up your chosen field (ex: rigging, performance, training, marketing, etc.), and have a clear understanding of where you need more education or experience.
  3. Low-Level – You’re just starting out. Most of your knowledge is theoretical in the sense that you haven’t been able to put much of it into practice yet.
  4. BONUS LEVEL – Delusional. You have no idea what you’re doing, people routinely tell you so, you ignore them and proclaim yourself a god. Your foolishness knows no bounds. Try not to take anyone with you.

Now, no matter where you fall on the knowledge/experience spectrum, one thing is certain: you still have more to learn. The trap of pride is that it keeps us from acknowledging this – the high level expert may think she has no more to learn and become rigid, the low level novice may pretend to know more than she does, and place herself and others in danger, or just make foolish choices.

Research, Opinion, and Common Sense

So, what? Where does all this leave us? Well, pursuing humility and it’s best friend, wisdom.

Someone once told me that, even when I was VERY sure about something, I should occasionally preface statements in my head with, “I might be wrong, but…”. This helps us remember that things change: new facts come to light, we gain an different understanding of something, we see another way in which things could be done, etc. It doesn’t mean not having well-informed, strong opinion; it does mean keeping our ears open for ideas, knowledge, and perspectives we might have missed the first time around.

For newbies, become little sponges. Little pro-active sponges. Do your homework, ask questions, google until your fingers bleed. Don’t wait for someone to spoon-feed you information you are ultimately responsible for having, and don’t try to bluff your way through it all. DO present yourself professionally, and consider pursuing a mentoring or apprentice situation (ideal – you can learn oodles of stuff, ask tons of questions, and comfortably acknowledge what you don’t know).

And while we’re chatting about all of this, a few things to keep in mind while gleaning information:

  • Opinions are not facts. All opinions are not equal – some are better informed than others.
  • Be careful where you get your information – consider the source.
  • Ask yourself, “Why should I believe that?” Is it from a credible source? Does it have the ring of common sense to it? Is there hard science to back it up?
  • Are you researching to get a better understanding of something, or to “prove that you’re right”? There’s a big difference.

 

We all have so much more to learn, to consider, to pursue. There is ALWAYS someone who knows more than you do, so keep your ears open, and keep movin’ on up. Dare to imagine, Laura