Author Archive

Returning to Cirque du Floyd! Artist Guest Blog by Chris Delgado

July 12, 2018 Comments Off on Returning to Cirque du Floyd! Artist Guest Blog by Chris Delgado Uncategorized

Even as an artist, your work can sometimes feel like drudgery, and often you find yourself compromising your vision or feeling like a little cog in a big machine. When the exception comes, you take notice, and that exception is Cirque du Floyd in Floyd, VA.

Floyd is an amazing little town, and being a part of their previous festival was a personal high point for the entire year. Floyd feels like an oasis filled with creativity, color, laughter and love. Before the performance last year, I was able to spend some time enjoying the festival and town myself. Everyone was so welcoming; from the home brewed kombucha, to the delightfully delicious Floyd country store, to the massive kites that kids taught me to fly. The community was exceptionally warm and appreciative.

Now, we find ourselves back in the studio tweaking our glow extravaganza “Luminarium”, and it couldn’t feel better. Rehearsals are all about following the laughter. What feels good? What looks good? If it makes us laugh, it’s goin’ in the show! It’s so freeing to create a show that is as quirky and silly as we are.

We’re working with our usual crew of amazing artists, and this year’s show is a quirky spin on corporate culture – Luminarium Corp, where the circus is the everyday! During your first day interview, you may wind up sitting on your own head. The afternoon circle around the water cooler might just get up and roll away on it’s own. And at the end of the night, someone’s got to climb a 20 foot pole to turn out the lights. It is an office that is never next door, but in the fantasies of every dozing desk job daydreamer. To everyone reading, hope to see you in Floyd! Dare to imagine, Chris

WHAT’S UP, GRRRRL? How (NOT) to Respond to a Casting Call

December 13, 2017 Comments Off on WHAT’S UP, GRRRRL? How (NOT) to Respond to a Casting Call Working in Circus

Ellie’s emails are always spot on!

SO! You’ve seen a casting notice on the F-books, a friend referred you to a company, or you’ve been using the Googles to find event companies near you. Great! Now for the all-important contact letter.

Now, while circus is a business, it’s not a particularly stuffy one – no need to write like you’re penning a missive to the Queen of England. That said, do keep in mind that this is your first impression – make it a good one! Try to avoid the following (all real, actual examples I’ve received from artists I don’t know personally and have never worked with):

The Overly Casual – “Hey! I’ve done a bit of trapeze, hit me up if you still need people!”

The Super Curt – “Available. $800.”

The Person Without Spellcheck Who Doesn’t Proofread – “Hi! I sae that you wetr casting forn an event, vall me pleas!”

The Person Who Can’t Be Bothered to Send Their Basic Info – “Hi! My website is www.cantbebothered.com.”

Part 1 – How to Contact

If you’re responding to a casting call, pay close attention to the accompanying instructions. Did they ask you to email? Submit via web form? What information did they ask you to include? Follow their directions. Send things the way they want them sent, and include what they’d like you to include. It really is that simple. I know many casting folks who promptly hit DELETE on every single casting submission that didn’t follow the basic directions. They’re not asking you to make a 27 step croquembouche (unless they are, in which case give it a go)! It’s usually a short collection of info that you should have ready to go at a moments notice anyway. If you DON’T have it ready to go, take this opportunity to get your materials together.

If it’s a referral, see below. Make sure you’re sending to that person’s preferred business address, and avoid using social media to contact them if you can.

If you’re approaching a company, go to their website and see if there are special instructions for unsolicited talent submissions. Most companies will have instructions on how to get in touch with them about hiring, or at least a contact page.

If you know the person, no need to be weirdly formal, but do put on your professional hat and make sure you’re submitting all the requested info/materials.

Part 2 – How to Write a Letter

Even an email should be nice and professional when you’re first making contact with someone who may hire you. After initial contact, you can let them set the tone for how casual your communications will be from there on out (when in doubt, always err on the more formal side). Generally speaking, aim for professional but friendly, and try to let a little of your personality show.

Hello (insert name here)! – (SALUTATION)

I saw your casting notice on Facebook, and I wanted to toss my hat in the ring, so to speak, for your upcoming event on May 30th. – (INTRODUCTORY SENTENCE) ** If you were referred by someone, mention it here.

I have been performing on lyra for the past few years, and have both a 6 minute act and a number of ambient sets ready to go. I can also do sets on silks, hammocks, and ambient contortion. I’ve attached the requested demo link, photos, rates, and specs below.  I’m super comfortable with corporate events, and have quite the costume closet! (- QUALIFICATIONS, ATTACHMENTS, NITTY GRITTY) **Keep it short, sweet, & to the point.

Please let me know if you need any more info or materials! I would love to be a part of this or future events. (- CLOSING SENTENCE)

Thank you for your time, (** a little thank you or a friendly sign off is always nice)

Mathilda

(YOUR CONTACT INFO GOES HERE – FULL NAME, SPECIALTY, PHONE, WEBSITE/EMAIL)

And there you have it! A timely, friendly, professional email can put you squarely in the line of casting, and pave the way for a future bookings and a great relationship. Dare to imagine, Laura

 

Yes, It IS Your Business! Or *A* Business, Anyway!

December 5, 2017 Comments Off on Yes, It IS Your Business! Or *A* Business, Anyway! Uncategorized

One thing I see again and again in our circus community is a near fanatical refusal to see ourselves – our talent, our skills, our offerings – as a business. Is it any wonder, then, that we’re asked all the time to work for free? The sooner we get on board with the business side of what we do, the sooner folks begin taking our work seriously. Because, even though we love it, it is WORK. Am I right? I’m totally right.

Are YOU a Business?

If you are trading (or hoping to, anyway) your time and talents for money, you are a business. If that thought makes you want to barf, you can think of this in any number of ways – you are an artistic product, a creative (business) entity, a glittery money magnet; however you want to think of it, if you are a professional trading goods or services for money, you’re a business. So, riddle me this: why aren’t you treating yourself that way?

For many of us, it’s that we signed up to be artists, not business people.  LEGIT! Sadly, this changes nothing. You have two choices: 1 – run your own business, or 2) pay someone to do it for you (agent or manager). Many of us come down with a foot in both camps, which is also fine, so long as we’re working our hustle. But what does it MEAN to run a business?

The Basics

Whether you’re selling widgets or a lyra act, the mechanics are surprisingly similar.

  • Idea/Product/Talent – whatcha selling? Cube act? Handbalancing? Artsy stuff? Get clear on what you’re offering and who your audience/client/buyer is.
  • Maintain Basic Standards of Professionalism – your work should be professional level, and you should be able to supply everything you need to do your work (rigging, apparatus, costume, makeup, etc.).
  • Procedures & Operations – your rules and policies (yes, you have these as an individual), and how your business works. Do you require 50% to hold the date? Do you have a 3 week booking deadline? How do people work with you? Any and all policies and the *how to* of your business should be clearly written down. **Note: make it EASY for people to hire you.
  • Marketing & Promotion – how do you spread the word about your awesomeness? Are you being consistent?
  • Finances/Pricing – what do you charge? Don’t reinvent the wheel every time – flexibility is fine (HA!), but aim for the same ballpark. Make sure you’re factoring in your expenses, everything from insurance to gas and tolls, and PAYING YOURSELF. Got a total? You need to charge more than that. Also – get a good tax person.
  • Your Team – who keeps you fabulous? As circus artists, we often have: costumer, PT, tax lady, acupuncturist, massage therapist, apparatus supplier, graphic designer, etc. Keep ’em on speed dial!
  • Hustle/Entrepreneurial Spirit – your act ain’t gonna sell itself, m’dear! Refine your hustle every damned day. Return emails and phone calls PROMPTLY, let people know you’re out there, fine tune your professionalism, be the artist who creates solutions not problems, etc.

When You Meet Resistance

Many artists think it’s somehow traitorous to treat this industry like the business it is. If you’re one of them, I strongly suggest you get an agent, or get so damned good that people will put up with your crappy business practices.

If you just have no idea where to start, I’ll share with you a life-changing piece of advice: google that sh*t up. You are NOT the first person to ever ask a question. How much should aerial artists charge? Google it. Where to get a freestanding aerial rig? Google it. How to sew a spandex costume? Google it. After you’ve consulted the Google Oracle, get the Facebook groups to weigh in (search aerial arts, circus, etc – join those groups!).  Ask your peers. Ask your coaches. Subscribe to all the circus blogs (there are a lot of them). Call local circus schools. Don’t stop until you have an answer (or 20). It was suggested to me a few weeks ago that the younger generation doesn’t know how to google, to which I say bullsh*t. Don’t expect information to be spoon fed to you. Take charge of your education, your business, and your career, or you will never thrive in this industry.

**Note that FB  & public forum chats are with the community at large, so mind your P’s & Q’s – folks in this industry have a loooooong memory. Be polite, and try not to get yourself blacklisted before you get out of the gate.

Whether you’re a born entrepreneur, or someone for whom the very thought of sending out a newsletter makes your skin crawl, it’s all the same: love it or hate it, it’s a business. Treat it that way. Dare to imagine, Laura

Who Pays for What?! Managing expense expectations

November 13, 2017 Comments Off on Who Pays for What?! Managing expense expectations Uncategorized

You GOT a GIG!

AND you get to fly somewhere cool. Now what do you pay for and what does the company hiring pay for?! It has come to my attention that there is not always a clear understanding of how away gigs work. Who picks up the tab for what? Some of this may seem super obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many performers don’t really know. And how much it can vary across similar industries.

 

1. Equipment, costume, make-up. You are responsible for bringing your own aerial equipment, costume, make-up, and any necessary rigging. If you are a silk artist, you need to bring a silk. If you work on a lyra, you need to bring a lyra. If a company makes specific silk color request, they will often then provide the silk in that color and rent or buy it themselves, but not all the time. You may need to do that. However, if you have the color they ask for, you are expected to bring it. I actually had a silk artist tell me they “usually” charge for fabric rental. Um.. this ain’t my first rodeo.  Also if you don’t have a Cirque-style costume, get one ASAP. I’ve been shocked what relatively talented people have considered would pass for a costume. Again, a company may provide, but don’t expect them to.

2. Cleaning. After a gig, you may need to clean your costume and/or silk. Do not expect a company to pay for that. Cleaning your stuff is part of being a working artist. Also, if the tape on your lyra is grungy or your white silk covered in blood, best to check for these things before the gig. Don’t show up with your equipment like that.

3. Equipment transport. This is a bit dicey. ImaginAerial always pays for equipment transportation from home to the gig and back. BUT not all companies do. Throughout our performing career, we sometimes paid for it and sometimes got it paid for. Ask first, then factor it into your price if need be.

4. Transportation. Flights are always covered and usually ground transportation, once you land. However, not all companies will pay for cabs to the airport and back home. Same with gas for driving to a gig. We pay, some don’t. Don’t expect every company to have the same policy. Just ask.

5. Per diem. Again, Imaginaerial covers this for away gigs, but not all companies provide this. Also the amount you receive will generally be appropriate to the place. You won’t get much in Asia, but should receive a lot in Scandinavia. Be savvy to that. Also if some or all meals are covered, you will be getting less or possibly nothing as well.

6. Stopping for a holiday, going to another gig, or visiting family. It’s fun to travel on gigs! It’s basically like getting a free flight somewhere. Especially when I was childless, I loved taking a few extra days to explore cool places.  If you decide to take a trip after a gig is over, don’t ask the agent/producer for anything once you leave on your own. It is not their responsibility. Your trip, your responsibility. If you stay in the same spot, then you may politely ask if it is at all possible to get the return flight a week after everyone else has left. Most will do this, but remember it’s a bit of an extra pain, so appreciate the favor. Also if the producer kindly even flies you somewhere else after a gig upon your request, remember that once you hit that spot, you are on your own including cabs and luggage fees. The producer also has no responsibility to get your equipment to some other gig for another company after the contracted gig of theirs.

Finally, this business is about relationships and reputation.  If you want to work with a company again, the best policy is to err on the side of caution. Did you think something should have been covered and it wasn’t? First ask politely about it, as it’s possible it was just an error. And if they tell you it’s not covered, thank them for the clarification and WALK AWAY. Chalk it up to learning and if they ask you back, factor it into your price for next time (but don’t necessarily mention that). Just tell them your rate went up a bit. If they won’t hire you at the higher rate and you feel like it’s really a deal breaker that say, wifi isn’t covered, don’t work with them again. But do NOT work with them again and again and then complain all over creation about the fact that wifi isn’t covered. The producer WILL hear about it and it won’t win you any points.

Also arguing directly for why you think wifi should be covered will most definitely backfire. No one wants to be accused of stinginess by the person they just worked to get a job for. Chances are they’ve already considered the issue and decided a while ago why they don’t want to cover it.

Be gracious, and decide what matters to you and what doesn’t. If you made less than you would have liked, chalk it up to a learning experience and be on the lookout next time. Some compromises we can live with and some we can’t. Be clear for yourself what they are and ask about them in the future. The rest just let go.
As performers, we worked with some extremely difficult producers. We have some stories, but we kept getting asked back. Prior to signing a contract, it was always a bit of a back and forth, but once signed, that was it. And we always sent a hand written thank you note that had nothing to do with our check or other logistics, after it was done. I swear it made a huge difference.

Please feel free to comment if this differs with what you’ve experienced or include any stories about your expectations.

 

Dare to Imagine…

 

Angela Attia

Our Gig In Mumbai!!

November 6, 2017 Comments Off on Our Gig In Mumbai!! Uncategorized

If you haven’t been to India, it’s often hard to describe. It’s just like nowhere else in the world.
You first get introduced to the chaos upon attempting to leave the airport at midnight with everyone laying into their car horns at once.
But the India experience isn’t just a cacophony, it is also intense color and beauty. Nobody is going to the opera in sweats here. Nothing muted, all-in vibrancy. There is a visceral rawness to it, like an exposed nerve, a place of extreme stimulation.
We were a part of a huge show, a celebration of Zee Entertainment’s 25 Years. The show included flying drummers, mirror men, a 20 min Bollywood number, kids breakdancing, people dancing in swirls of blue sand. And 8 aerialists in a pear tree 🎶. There was smoke and lasers and giant screens. Lots of them. It made the Super Bowl halftime show look like a kids recital.
Despite being given a show order that was scheduled to the minute, the CEO started to just call the show in the middle of the whole thing. We also were told AFTER our final dress rehearsal that our music would be totally different AND a minute longer. And saying “no” is futile. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. So I often just alternated.
But despite everything, the consummate professionals I chose worked together and got the job done, and not just done but beautifully done. And the show was indeed beautiful as you can see from the video. Limits were tested, but we all pulled through and the audience loved it.

all the dancers who performed with us!

Our Crew!

 

 

 

And now we are back home in our quiet little New York City. Go TEAM Z!

 

Dare to Imagine…

 

Angela Attia

Our Greatest Fear: Falling from the Sky

As aerialists, we know what we do is dangerous. That’s partly what people pay for. Driving, however, is also fairly dangerous. I remember whiteknuckling my first time out on the open road, harrowing for both my mother and I. However, after doing it regularly for a while, one gets comfortable (often too comfortable). The same thing happens with performing. Once you are strong enough to hang by one arm for a while and get yourself out of silk knots and the like, you start to feel pretty damn confident. While intellectually we know that the danger still exists, it just doesn’t feel super present after a while.

    Aerial work, statistically speaking, doesn’t have the same rate of injury as other common athletic activities. More gruesome injuries happen more often playing basketball or skiing than doing aerial work. It’s not like people are constantly falling out of the ceiling. That said, any professional who has done it long enough will probably have the scary big fall at some point. It’s awful and shocking. If it’s a rigging failure, you develop major trust issues. If you just screw something up yourself, it may be hard to get your confidence back.  What may be the worst scenario though is being dropped by a partner or dropping a partner. I’m not talking trying a new trick over mats. I mean in a real situation.

The total surprise. The stuff of nightmares. I know, because I missed a catch. The moment when another human slips through your fingers; a human whose life depends on you holding them, and they just slip away. That eternal time before they hit the floor and you grasp in the air powerlessly after them. That moment when you can do nothing. That moment where you actually contemplate leaping after them as if you could race them to the floor and catch them in time. That moment you realize you’ve let someone down in every way. That moment you really hurt someone badly or had the enormous potential to and you are responsible.

Winter Silks

Even silks on either side wouldn’t be enough.

Then comes the guilt. Why didn’t I..?! How could I let that happen?! If the person is angry at you, it’s almost easier. If they aren’t, you make up the mental beating yourself. Every situation is of course different. And complete freak accidents do happen. But I’ve also witnessed it happen in front of me. And it brought back all the awful memories, the visceral sensations of panic. The biggest problem is that we don’t quite believe it can happen to us. Until it does. And while it may not be entirely preventable, there are some factors to be on the lookout for.

1. Frenetic Energy: You are in a situation where there is a lot of rushing, there is a dress rehearsal and the tech is behind, but you want to run your act, but you didn’t get a chance to warm up properly etc. or maybe you were rushed to the venue from the airport. Or maybe it’s just how a producer always just whips everyone into a frenzy on a regular basis.

2. Distraction: Usually there is some external factor involved that is hard to push away. Maybe the space is weird or there is a bright light or smoke in your face. Maybe you are concerned about the rigging. Or it’s hot and you are sweating more than normal. Maybe suddenly a piece of chalk or dust gets in your eye. In my case, it was a guy shooting a camera right below us. It was clicking loudly and he was circling us and the noise and the close circling stole a piece of my focus.

3. Pressure: Often, you feel like you have to run the piece, even if you are feeling off. Either it’ll be the only chance before a show, or everything is behind and you have to get through stuff as fast as possible. Or a producer insists on seeing it. But usually, you feel like you have to do it and NOW.

4. Lack of communication: Perhaps your partner is in your hands, and you realize that you don’t quite have them, but the music is pumping too loud for them to hear you. Or perhaps you try to say something, but you can’t quite get out clearly or articulately what you need them to do in that moment. Or maybe it’s off but you don’t say anything, and you just think it will be fine, because up until this point, it always is.

Double Trapeze

Double Trapeze

I think the hardest thing to do is to take a moment mentally, before you go up in the air, always. Take a moment to focus on what matters: safety and connecting with each other. The performance or rehearsal is always secondary. And then we have to be brave enough to stop everything when our gut tells us “no, something isn’t right”. That can be hard to do especially when pressure has built up. I have had two times when my gut said “Come down NOW” in the middle of an actual show. And both times I did and both times, the rigging was in the middle of failing, because somebody else had to rig for me for a quick transition and didn’t pay enough attention and it was rigged improperly. I was very lucky. But I wasn’t brave enough that one time to stay “stop”, and Laura paid the price with fractured ankle.

   We always say safety matters and we might do all the necessary rigging checks and keep our equipment up to par, only use steel, check cue angles etc etc. But still, we may forget in the moment that we ourselves are indeed fallible too, and we need every part of us to be there in every moment. And isn’t that partly why we even do this in the first place?

We all as a community need to support each other when things get hectic to remind ourselves about what really is important. Safety first. Always.

Angela Attia

Dare to Imagine….

Relationships – The Real Art of Juggling Hats in Circus

September 5, 2017 Comments Off on Relationships – The Real Art of Juggling Hats in Circus Uncategorized

In any given week, I wear A LOT of hats. So do all the people around me. For example, take my dear friend Chris! In just one week, we were:

  • Good friends
  • Teacher/student
  • Boss/employee
  • Both students
  • Both employees
  • Both teachers
  • Director/performer
  • Co-producers
  • Counselor/train wreck

…. and the list goes on and on. We’re not romantically involved, but for many circus artists, that’s added into the mix as well (or parenthood, family relationships, agents, advisers & mentors, etc.). It’s a crazy world, friends! We juggle a lot of relationship hats – more than most folks. How do you keep them all sailing smoothly and avoid cringe-worthy collisions?

A Hierarchy of Hats

It behooves you to get veeeeery clear about who’s wearing what hat when, and the balance of power associated with each one. Behavior that flies when you’re in friendship mode may not be acceptable when someone is your director or teacher. To make things even more confusing, there are often shades of appropriateness depending on the situation. An agent I love working with often calls me “Beautiful Goddess” when I answer the phone, and I call him a silver-tongued devil; we would both keel over dead if that happened in front of a client, but it feeds our professional relationship when it’s just us on the phone. Joking and chatting may be fine in a private with my handstand coach, and can serve to deepen trust and coach/student bonding, but not in a group class where more respect needs to be given. When I have my Boss Lady hat on, I’m your boss, but PLEASE don’t treat me like the boss lady when we’re all at the bar after the show! See how murky that can get?

Working in circus, you have to get VERY COMFORTABLE switching those hats out fast. Pay close attention to behavior, boundaries, and where respect and deference need to be given. Do it right and you can enjoy a strong circle of phenomenal coaches, friends, cast-mates, artists, etc. Do it wrong, and brace yourself for some far-reaching ripples (don’t ask me how I know…..).

Should I Date My Circus Peers?

Well, that depends a great deal on you. Circus folks – well, all performers really – are a pretty incestuous bunch (not literally – don’t be gross). We all know at the beginning of the tour that SOMEONE will hooking up with someone else, am I right? I’m right. Plenty of us met our spouses/SO’s at work! You’re together all the time, you totally “get” each other’s lives, and let’s face it – we’re all gorgeous. 😉

I, for one, think that, so long as everyone can be professional adults, date away! But with a couple of caveats:

  • I’ve never heard of a circus performance company forbidding cast dating, but I’m sure there’s at least one. Find out if there’s a policy (and follow it to the letter), or whether it’s frowned upon.
  • Have the conversation about how you’ll continue to work together professionally before you see each other without your costumes on (wink), or once things seem to be getting serious – whichever comes first. No judgment.
  • Know that, if things go south (in the bad way), you still have to work together. You cannot make waves, make others uncomfortable, or cause drama in any way. If you KNOW that’s not you, then when you’re feeling the urge to merge with a co-worker, I want you to take your Metrocard out and hold it firmly between your knees for the duration of your gig. #problemsolved 😉

 

It Gets Easier

As with so many things, juggling those hats gets easier and easier the more you practice – I’m still figuring it all out, but it really does sort itself if you pay attention.  You will make mistakes – own it, apologize, and move on. We live together, train together, perform together, teach together, learn together. Embrace it! Dare to imagine, Laura

Forget Working for Free – Should You be Working at All?

July 25, 2017 Comments Off on Forget Working for Free – Should You be Working at All? Working in Circus

We’ve all seen the “why I don’t/you shouldn’t work for free” posts and memes, but friends, I think we may have put the cart before the horse. The first question you should ask when starting to think about charging for your work might need to be more along the lines of “do I deserve to be paid for this product”.

Professional = Worth Paying For

You may not know this about me, but I am a stunningly mediocre cook. I enjoy cooking, I have spend God-knows-how-much money on cookbooks and gizmos, and I occasionally hit on something reasonably edible. I’m very, very OK in the kitchen. I’m not gonna burn it down or poison anyone, but I’m also not going to try to hire myself out as a personal chef. Know why? Because I do not meet any meaningful standard of “professional chef” in the kitchen. I do not have the required skill set. I am not working at a standard that deserves professional compensation.

Now, I may be able to con some unsuspecting guy at a bakesale into buying a brownie, but my brownie will be veeeeeery different from, say, Nigella Lawson’s (does she even make brownies? I don’t think so, but just go with it). BUT, what if Brunhilda’s Emporium of Awesomeness approaches me to cater their desserts for their annual jello wrestling contest? WHAT THEN? Then, I thank her profusely, and explain that I am in no way a professional, and I do not have the skill set to produce the result she’s looking for. I refer her to my favorite bakery.

If you’re still reading, good on ya. You’ve made it to the part where I make my point! That point being: “professional’ means something to the consumer, and no one is likely to be hurt if my brownies aren’t as good as The Chocolate Room’s. The consumer believes you a) are an expert in your field, b) have the necessary skills to safely and thoroughly execute this project (“scope of practice”), and c) are working at a level your peers would deem professional versus amateur. Predictably, this is where it gets sticky for a lot of folks. But, let’s be honest – pretending to be a professional when you know good and well that you’re not is, well, kind of douchey, and downright dangerous in the aerial world.

What does a professional circus artist look like?

Allison Williams answered this beautifully in a guest blog post she wrote for me a while back. Have a look, then keep on reading.

I KNOW All That – What Now?

Now, friends, comes a little something we in the industry like to call “paying your dues”. It looks different for everyone, but follows something of a predictable path for most performers.

  1. Training – you are in full student mode, hopefully devouring everything you can get your hands on (and then some). You start at the beginning, and work your way up to putting pieces together with your coach.
  2. Performing (amateur) – you’ve got skilz! You’re ready to practice performing on this crazy thing. Showcases and local performances to support community studios – as many as you can possibly get into. Take this time to learn about different rigs, and how changing spaces affects your performance parameters. Perform every single chance you get – this is as much a part of your training and education as classes are.
  3. Apprenticeship – you’re moving on up! With the support of your coach and the local aerial community, you’re in that fun “in between” phase. You’re not quite pro (your skills are there, but you’re unseasoned), but your eye is on the prize. Hook up with a mentor, apprentice with a company, etc. You’re also probably ready to go for small paying shows like local cabaret, variety, and burlesque (around $50-$150 per night – anyone who says they’re pulling in over $600 per act for local burlesque or cabaret gigs is probably blowing smoke… unless they can blow that smoke out of an unusual place, but even then….). These gigs pay low because no one is making big money off them – it’s a great place to trot out new material, learn how the business works, and network. This is a great time to work on the business of YOU – your promo materials, website, acts, networking, learning how to run a business, etc. This is NOT a place to try to recoup your circus school spending.
  4. Professional – It’s official. You’ve paid your dues, your materials are in place, your website is done, your acts are fabulous, you’ve been performing for a few years, you understand most of how this business works, and voila – it’s a natural, often seamless transition. Of course, your training and learning never stops, so you’ll always be student, amateur, apprentice, AND professional! Aim high.

Again, this looks different for everyone. The important thing to remember is that ALL professions have a progression, whereas jobs often do not. Don’t confuse your career with a job – it’s a unicorn of a very different color. Dare to imagine, Laura

Being Asked to “Audition” by Working for Free?

June 14, 2017 Comments Off on Being Asked to “Audition” by Working for Free? Uncategorized

SERENITY NOW. Every time I think I’ve seen it all, I’m proven wrong in the WORST WAYS. This is a message going out to all the brand spankin’ new aerialists, or those who have Big Aerial Dreams, and I hope it reaches the people who need to hear it most. Here goes.

The Latest Really Shady Business Practice

Picture this: you go in for a job interview at Morganstern and Wompbottom Law Offices. You meet Ms Morganstern, and the interview goes something like this.

“So, I see you want to be a legal secretary.”

“Yes, yes I do! I’m really eager!”

“Great! So, we’ll just need you to work a few days as an audition. Then, if we like you, maybe we’ll give you the job sometime down the road.”

“…… OK….. that seems a bit unusual, but may I ask what the rate of pay will be for the few days?”

“Oh – like I said – it’s not really work, it’s an “audition”. You know, so we can see if we like you. No pay.”

HEAD. DESK.

The latest thing to crop up here in NYC (and probably other places) is the Working Audition – a company will express interest, but want you to work a night for free in order to be considered for regular gigs. Friends, this is not how this is supposed to work. Many companies have apprentice programs, where green aerialists learn the biz by performing at a reduced rate for a bit while being actively trained, but free? No bueno. If this is a professional event (as opposed to a volunteer situation for everyone), you are being taken advantage of, and (unintentionally) undercutting our industry.


If someone asks you to work a gig for free as an audition, RUN FAR FAR AWAY. This is not how this business works.


Beware of Artist Pyramid Schemes

What the heck would that look like? Maybe someone offers “free aerial training” in exchange for working a few gigs, and entry into This Fabulous New Company (wow – I’ll bet that aerial training is going to be REALLY TOP NOTCH). Oh – and hey, you’ll also need a professional video that’s $$. And headshots that are $$. And a costume which is $$. And you’ll also need this workshop…… See where I’m going with this?

Want excellent training? Look around – you’re swimming in it. Broke? Plenty of spaces offer work study. That “training” you’re going to get from a pyramid scheme is gonna be worth as much as those gigs – $0.00. Do it right. Take classes, put in the time, and if someone offers you aerial work with “no experience necessary”, RUN AWAY.

Not All Arrangements Are Bad

I’ve seen arrangements between teachers and students work out a number of ways. Some teach in exchange for the student doing admin work, or assisting with other classes. Some teachers put in the time in exchange for a percentage of the artist’s earnings for x number of years. Some companies get newbie performers up to speed by training business specifics on the job (and providing costumes, apparatus, rigging, etc) in exchange for a reduced rate on the gig. Arrangements exchanging excellent training for other services can work out great, so long as the training IS excellent and there’s a real spirit of equity.

That said, an audition doesn’t equal working a gig free. That isn’t an audition, that’s working a gig for free. They could just as easily have you come into the studio and do a legit audition. Newbies beware – shenanigans abound. Dare to imagine, Laura

PS – Scammy McScammertons, you’re being put on notice.

 

Packing for Tour – Everything But the Kitchen Sink! Wait…. Grab That Too…

May 9, 2017 Comments Off on Packing for Tour – Everything But the Kitchen Sink! Wait…. Grab That Too… Uncategorized

Hey friends! I was recently asked – what should you pack when you’re headed out on the road on tour? Here’s my current list!

  • Clothes – laundry facilities may sometimes be spotty, so plan ahead. Pick one color and stick to it – everything should go with everything else. I just bring all black – it’s great for theater stuff, doesn’t show as much dirt, and easy to accessorize. Choose stuff that absolutely doesn’t need dry cleaning, and that doesn’t wrinkle.
    • For travel and training, I wear pretty much the same thing – t shirts/tunics and leggings or sweat pants. (7 days)
    • Socks-n-undies (7 days)
    • One nice enough outfit. I bring a stretchy black dress, and pair it with a fancy hair doodad, earrings, etc.
    • If you’ve got more room, bring a few cute clothes.
    • Shoes – one pair of exercise shoes, and one “all purpose” pair – boots, ballet flats, whatever’s comfy. If you’re really short on space, pack socks and/or undies in your shoes.
    • A baseball cap is super useful!
    • Any seasonal clothes you’ll need. Do your homework – nothing is worse than freezing or melting because you packed the wrong clothes.
    • Jewelry bag – don’t take any family heirlooms on tour! Stuff gets left places, dressing rooms might get “visited”, etc. Stick to a few well-chosen – but not priceless or too sentimental – pieces.
    • I section everything into plastic freezer bags or zippered packing bags – life gets a lot easier.
    • Bring a laundry bag or pillow case for dirty laundry.
    • Pack an open bar of soap or a sachet or two in your suitcase to keep your clothes from getting that “I am living out of a suitcase” smell.
    • Toiletries and your personal makeup if you use it.
    • Ear plugs and an eye mask to make nutty sleep schedules a bit more humane.
    • Neck pillow
    • Small pharmacy that I bring:
      • Tylenol & Advil
      • nasal spray
      • band aids, liquid bandage, tape
      • melatonin tablets
      • Burts Bees Res-Q Ointment (for burns and ouchies)
      • Capsaicin HP (anti-inflammatory cream)
      •  A few Imodium caplets (take a box if you’re going to be in areas without potable tap water)
      • a couple of “Smooth Move” tea bags in case things get…. backed up
      • any meds you take regularly
  • Show
    • Rigging – whatever you need, in a separate bag from your personal stuff as this will likely ride in the truck with the equipment. You’d rather be looking at it than looking for it, so troubleshoot and bring whatever you need.
    • Apparatus/Props – do a GOOD AND THOROUGH inspection of your apparatus and rigging before you head out. Make any repairs needed (trapeze padding, for example), and order new fabrics  or rigging if need be.
    • Grip aids – bring extra if you use it. Spray rosin often may not fly, so pack your powder.
    • Costumes – bring your main and a backup. Also, pack a small sewing kit.
    • Makeup – bring an extra set of lashes & glue, and make sure you have enough of whatever you’ll be using to get you through the tour.
    • A small can of FDS for tights and thongs that have to make it through multiple shows between washings (or bring a big old bunch of thongs and tights).
  •  Household
    • SMALL refillable bottle of laundry detergent, or bring pre-filled packets.
    • A small stash of plastic bags in various sizes.
    • 2-3 large trashbags if your luggage isn’t waterproof – makes a great impromptu covering.
    • Duct tape – it’s just so damned useful.
    • I always bring a few clothes pins or binder clips – again, crazy useful.
  • Office
    • Phone, computer, and any converters you may need for international travel.
    • I always travel with an “office in a bag”, which includes:
      • small flash drive
      • odds and ends – paper clips, rubber bands, stamps & a few envelopes, etc.
      • post it notes
      • pens
      • legal pad or spiral notebook

And, of course, whatever you need to keep yourself entertained on long bus rides! Entertainment is easier than ever (thanks, technology!). Bring good ear phones though – nobody wants to listen to your music. 😉

And I think that’s it! I’ll probably think of 1000 more things by the time I post this. Generally speaking, start packing about a week before you leave – it’s AMAZING what you’ll forget if you leave it til the last minute. Happy trails! Dare to imagine, Laura