Archive for December, 2015

Menaces to your Silk and Thwarting their Grabby Ways

December 21, 2015 Comments Off on Menaces to your Silk and Thwarting their Grabby Ways Uncategorized
Soft and pretty!

Soft and pretty!

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.

Sketchy people like thisThe 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.

Before the drinking has commenced

Before the drinking has commenced

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.

Happy Gigging!

Dare to Imagine. Angela Attia

You don’t need a wind machine for your promo and other fine tips!

December 15, 2015 Comments Off on You don’t need a wind machine for your promo and other fine tips! Photos and Video, Uncategorized, Working in Circus

See the ImaginAerial videos!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.

DSC_0015

No need to hire a whole professional crew though.

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:

Hawaii, HI

No need to perform on a volcano.

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,

Angela Attia

What to Say When a Friend or Family Member Interrogates You About Your Career

December 8, 2015 Comments Off on What to Say When a Friend or Family Member Interrogates You About Your Career Uncategorized

MerryChristmasWe’ve all been there. You’re seated around the Thanksgiving table, polishing off your third piece of pumpkin pie, when it happens. The Interrogation.

Aunt Mergatroyd: So, Bitsy. What are you doing with your life these days? Are you still doing that carnival stuff? On the curtains?

Bitsy: Yes, Aunt Mergatroyd. They’re called aerial fabrics. It’s been going really well!

Aunt Mergatroyd: Umph. Yes. But dear, your mother worries. How long will you be really be able to do this? I mean, that figure isn’t going to last forever, especially if you keep polishing off three pieces of pie. But seriously – isn’t it time you gave some thought to your future?

OK, is everyone else as clenched as I am? I hate this discussion. Whether it’s a well-meaning family member, a friend who just can’t imagine that there’s a living to be made in the arts, or an acquaintance who has no idea how our business works but feels compelled to weigh in anyway, we’ve all been on the other end of that misery. What to do? Yeah, I don’t know either. But I do have some thoughts.

The Three Types of Interrogation

It seems to me that these delightful interludes come in three flavors: the Genuninely Concerned, the Secretly/Openly Critical, and the Type A Steamroller.

The Genuinely Concerned

Our industry isn’t the easiest to understand (it’s kind of weird, right?), and plenty of family members and friends have major misconceptions about what it means to be a circus artist. This often translates into well-meaning worrying which, though frustrating, really comes from a good place.

I find that a detailed conversation works particularly well here. Find out what their specific fears are, and do your best to assuage them. Also – take a moment to really listen. Are they valid concerns? Moms in particular worry deep – be kind.

 

The Secretly/Openly Critical

This is the WORST. These folks operate from a critical spirit. Their MO is to tear folks down, dissect their lives, and point out everything that they think is wrong. They believe you’re wasting your life, that there’s no living to be made in the arts, and that you’re just not smart enough to see it. No. bueno.

I’ve opted out of this kind of toxic awfulness, and I invite you to do the same. Critical folks don’t respond well to hints and subtleties, so I usually hit ’em with a Sledgehammer of Candid Suggestions for Where They Can Stuff Their Opinions. Take, for example, this gem from a few years ago.

Critical Person: So, how long can you really expect to keep doing this stuff? What are you going to do when reality hits? (obnoxious laugh)

Me: My career is going GREAT! Spent two months in Portugal last year. How about you, though? How’s your job going? Oh hey – how long, do you think, before they send your job overseas? What will you do at that point? That must be really worrying.

My point got made, and that family member has minded his P’s & Q’s since then. Now, I’m not saying that’s for everyone, a frank conversation might be more your style. But make no mistake – these folks will needle at you until you put your foot down. We teach people how to treat us! Nip this in the bud unless it doesn’t bother you.

The Type A Steamroller

This one is a toughie. Most of these folks genuinely care about you. The problem is, they secretly think you’re incompetent, don’t have your sh*t together, or that you’re missing the boat. More than anything, though? These folks know – just KNOW – all the things you need to be doing to make your career take off. The main identifying statement from the Type A Steamroller is, “What’s your business plan?” (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!)

This wouldn’t be a terrible question, except that’s not exactly how showbiz works. While it’s always good to have a plan and a clear direction, a traditionally written business plan will be out the window in 6 months. But this illustrates the main problem with the Type A Steamroller – they think they know more than they do.

Repeat after me: “I appreciate your concern, I really do! It seems that you have some doubts about whether I am capable of “captaining my own ship”. Our industry is a complex one, and often hard for those outside the business to understand. I want to assure you that, like yourself, I am more than capable of managing my own career. But listen, I really appreciate that you worry about me!” (offer a closer at this point – hug, “bro handshake”, smack to the head, whatever feels right).

Look – I’m with you. It’s exhausting to constantly educate about our industry, but, for now, it seems to be our (sparkly, fabulous) lot in life. People don’t get to freely weigh in on your career just because you’re an artist. Whether diplomacy, candid convo, or outright avoidance is your style, take heart – you’re part of a Great Circus Legacy! Have very happy (and criticism-free!) holidays, friends!

Dare to imagine, Laura