Archive for Uncategorized

Who Pays for What?! Managing expense expectations

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!!

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

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

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

ImaginAerial Presents: Vintage Circus

May 3, 2017 Comments Off on ImaginAerial Presents: Vintage Circus Uncategorized

What is Vintage Circus?

ImaginAerial takes some inspiration from traditional circus and sideshow in our cheeky take on the circus of yesteryear. From vintage circus costumes to burlesque-esque and Steampunk offerings, we’ve got you covered.

What do Vintage Circus Artists Need to Perform?

  • Acts include hula hoops, trapeze, chair balancing, acrobats, juggling, contortion, sideshow, and more! We can even give modern acts a vintage twist with old-fashioned costumes and music.
  • Artists can perform acts while mingling with guests, on a stage or pedestal, or as part of a show.
  • Vintage ground artists need a clean floor space, and about 5×5 feet of space on a stage, pedestal, or floor.
  • Aerialists require a hang point to rig off of. A free-standing rig is available if a rig point is not available in the venue.

 

If you have questions (and I’ll bet you do), give us a ring at (929) 260-3134 and we can talk you through it.

 

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ImaginAerial Presents: Blue Cirque

April 26, 2017 Comments Off on ImaginAerial Presents: Blue Cirque Uncategorized

 

ImaginAerial in dreamy shades of blue!

  • Beautiful cirque-style costumes in a variety of blues to suit your theme!
  • Aerialists, acrobats, contortionists, stilt walkers, and all manner of cirque-style artists bring elegance and surprise to your event.

 

Contact ImaginAerial

We would love to hear from you! Please fill out this form and we will get in touch with you shortly.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

But are You a REAL Artist?

A friend and I have recently been having some pretty provocative conversations about the nature of art, and we touched on the subject of “who gets to call themselves an artist”. What makes a real artist? Can anyone just jump on the bandwagon and assume the moniker? Do you need to have some measure of success? Does it have to be good art? What about entertainment? Let’s just say she and I have polished off more than one bottle of wine on this topic (I find I do my best debating on glass number 3). Who gets to call themselves a real artist?

Real Artist Qualifications

Do you make art? Does it hold a place of primary importance in your life? Does not making art send you into a maelstrom of misery and depression? Congratulations – you’re an artist. Notice that I didn’t say you were a “successful” artist or a “good” artist – that’s another blog post (and yardstick) entirely.

Does someone occasionally pay you for your art? This is where the wicket gets a bit sticky for some of you, right? Can I call myself a plumber if no one ever pays me to plunge their potty? Can I call myself a teacher if I’m never in front of a classroom? This assumes that the designation “artist” refers solely to profession, not identity (“if nobody ever pays for my art, I am not an artist”). I feel it can be either or both – that the term Artist need not be tied to commerce or profession. If you spend the majority of your life thinking about/making/purchasing supplies for art, I think you get to call yourself an artist if you want to. Vincent van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime, just saying….

Disagree? Here – pass the cabernet.

You Cannot Have a Day Job and Call Yourself a Real Artist

Friend, we live in ‘Murica – how are you an artist WITHOUT a day job? We live in a country that, for the most part, doesn’t value art or artists in any meaningful way. We can go through many a bottle about whose fault that is (“the artists are too weird or not weird enough”), whether it’s OK (“art isn’t essential”), or how to fix it (“don’t bother”), but the fact remains that the USA does not fund art in the way that say Canada does, or France. What does this mean? Most artists will not work in their chosen field consistently. This often means getting a day job (Maya Angelou was a streetcar conductor, a shake dancer, paint stripper, restaurant cook, and teacher, among other things), or working “broadly” in your field (see below).

You might have a day job, a night job, and an in-between job, but that doesn’t mean you’re not an artist.

Broaden That Definition

Being an artist doesn’t look like one specific thing. We all have the way we’d prefer it to look – performing all the time, commissioned paintings out the wazoo, your choreography work booked solid for the next five years, etc., but reality requires a broader take. Some artists choose to make a living totally outside their art – completely fine. Many of us prefer to work close to what we love best; consequently, the life of a working artist may include teaching, lecturing, designing, consulting, performing, costume making, makeup design, etc. Some choose to branch out into closely related fields – oodles of circus artists and dancers work in fitness, for example, or nutrition. Does it make them less serious artists? Maybe, if you’re a hoity elitist trust fund baby who’s never had to make rent in NYC.

As a society, we’ve bought into this ludicrous idea that being an artist – good, bad, or ugly – means that you’re making a living with your art, and that you’re well-known during your lifetime. If you’re suffering from this delusion, I urge you to run – don’t walk – to your nearest bookstore and start reading about the lives of famous artists throughout history. It’s a delicious reality check, and one that’s much needed, methinks. Dare to imagine, Laura

Betta Have My Money! Don’t Make Performers Chase You for a Paycheck

April 18, 2017 Comments Off on Betta Have My Money! Don’t Make Performers Chase You for a Paycheck Uncategorized

If you’re a freelancer, you’ve been there: the work is done, but that paycheck is gone with the wind. When you get radio silence or the runaround from the person who hired you, it can be a whirlwind of stress, anxiety and anger. As a performer, you have a number of options to pursue, but that’s next week’s post. This week? I want to talk to the folks who hire the performers, because if people are consistently waiting on you for a paycheck, that’s a problem.

You Have a Responsibility

I’ve only not been paid for my work one time – New Years Eve 2009 when I worked for Cirque USA (if you’re reading this, it’s never too late to do the right thing…). After chasing the paycheck for a long while, I eventually chalked it up to a lesson learned. But ugh – what a lesson.

When we hire artists, we feel the responsibility of the commitment that’s made – you perform at our event, we pay you for that performance. It’s not your problem whether or not WE get paid by the client, that’s on us. It’s not your problem if the house doesn’t sell enough seats. It’s not your problem if the company went nuts on hookers and blow and spent your paycheck. You worked? You should get that money. Period. Can’t take that on? You’re not ready to hire anyone.

Disposable Artist Syndrome

We see this ALL the time – venues who regularly hire talent, then make them chase that check. They often suffer from what I like to call Disposable Artist Syndrome – they’re banking on the fact that there are so many artists eager to perform, what does it matter if they piss some off? There’s always another one to take their place. Ew.

Artists are people, not tissues. That’s really all I have to say about that. Don’t be surprised if you start to find it tough to get (and keep) good talent.

Just to Be Clear

It’s so important to be clear about pay – how much you will pay, how it will be paid, and the time frame. If you know it’s going to be 90 days before you can pay, say so at the time of booking. Did you agree to pay sooner? You betta do it. If something insane happens and you cannot pay on time, transparency is key. Be honest about what happened, and how you will make it right.

Not in the habit of giving a timeline for payment? Enjoy the drama. Performers start getting really antsy when they start having to ask about their check, and thus begins the downward spiral. A lot of potentially great producer/performer relationships get needlessly ruined that way – sad.

 

Over 70% of freelancers will report not being paid at some point for work they’ve done. This is not OK. If you are an artist hiring artists, your responsibility is even greater – these are your people, for heavens sake! Money is already a subject fraught with feeeeeeeelings and tension and baggage – don’t be shady. Don’t pull a Donald. Be excellent to each other. Dare to imagine, Laura

 

Happy Valentine’s Day from ImaginAerial!

February 9, 2017 Comments Off on Happy Valentine’s Day from ImaginAerial! Uncategorized

 

Love really IS in the air! From Champagne Aerialists to a Living Red Carpet, ImaginAerial adds a new twist to Valentine’s Day.

  • Spectacular elite cirque-style acts to enthrall your guests
  • A gorgeous array of costumes – from traditional red and white to lingerie-inspired, gowns, etc.
  • A Living Red Carpet is a novel surprise for your attendees!
  • Glamorous Champagne Aerialists add flair and elegance to any welcome.
  • Strolling Tables make mingling more fun!
  • … and so much more!