Category Archives: Performance

“I Am Surely About To Die” – Pre-Show Jitters and How to Cope

German Wheel Wishbone

 

Hello Dear Danglers! I’m writing in hopes that you may recognize a bit of this in your own pre-show musings, and realize that everyone – everyone – has moments of doubt, paralyzing terror  fear, and despair when it comes to doing what we love in front of Other People.

 

Terror Wheel

I’m currently in Chicago, preparing to compete in German Wheel national trials. If I don’t fall on my head (you laugh, but this is an alarmingly real possibility), I may do well enough to join Team USA in Italy in June to compete against top German wheelers from around the world – the thought makes me want to guffaw and barf all at the same time. See, this time, my performance has real consequences. Usually, the worst thing that happens with a crummy run is that my ego is bruised, but here – OMG – I WILL ACTUALLY, LITERALLY BE JUDGED BY PEOPLE SITTING BEHIND A TABLE SCORING MY WORK WITH POINTS! POINTS!!!!! Is that not the most horrifying thing you’ve ever heard? (#hyperbole) To say that this is producing a bit of anxiety in me is like saying that the Pope is a bit Catholic, or that my students are a bit sassy. It is the most astonishing amount of very real, very tangible fear. So, how will I make it through without crying copious quantities of hiccup-y tears? …. I don’t know.

 

What I DO Know

Different things work for different people at different times, and I don’t know what will be most useful in the coming days, but I DO have a little grab-bag of coping strategies! Here are a few that have kept me sane thus far.

  • Everyone wants you to succeed. Really. Your audience wants you to succeed! Even if you’re in competition with others, your competition does not really wish you ill (they just want to do better than you – it’s not the same thing). Imagine them all cheering you on, and watch for all the little “thumbs up” you find yourself seeing all over the place.
  • Staaaaaay present. I am the worst – the worst – at this. Anxiety is all about “futurizing” – projecting your fears into an imagined future. It’s not real. Remember – while this kind of thinking is encoded in your DNA (it was veeeeery helpful if you were a caveman on the savanna), it’s not going to help you now. Go google “how to stay present” and do all the things. All of ’em. Whatever it takes. 😉
  • Focus on others. It’s really hard to wind yourself up too much if you’re focused on others. How can you help? The more you can get your mind off yourself and onto serving, the less time you have to rev your engines and flood your body with more stress hormones!
  • Rally the troops! Call your people! Huddle with your show partner, post about your fear on social media, call your mom, whatever. People want to be there for you, so let them! Feel the love.
  • What’s the worst that could happen? Sometimes, this question has sobering answers (“You could land on your head”), but more often than not, the answers are more benign (“I will look like an idiot”). Try to really talk this through. “I will look like an idiot. OK, maybe people won’t look at me and go “she’s such an idiot”. It’s more likely that they will feel bad for me that I missed my trick – they know how that feels. I will be disappointed, but that’s treatable with ice cream. And, in five years, will this matter in my life in any real, meaningful way? Probably not. I will look back and be proud of myself for competing and doing my best.”
  • Try not to ruminate. Go – do whatever you have to do to break the cycle of winding yourself up. Go help someone, go jog, listen to music, watch “Real Housewives, etc.
  • Get spiritual. Pray, meditate, chant, twirl – whatever floats your spirit boat.
  • Everyone is feeling this way. Look around. See your fellow cast mates? Your competitors? Yeah – they’re right there with you. You are not alone.
  • Speak kindly to yourself. Fear is natural and healthy, and can clue you in to things you need to pay attention to, but don’t use this as a time to abuse yourself. Even as I write this, I hear, “You are going to humiliate yourself in front of so many people” We can be astonishingly cruel to ourselves! And, we can choose differently (note: it’s hard, and can feel like you’re lying. Takes practice, start now). I can change that to “I’ve trained hard, and I’m among friends. I choose to have an uplifting, amazing experience of competition.”
  • Be proud – you chose life. You chose to do the hard thing. You chose a big risk, with a big pay off. Just by choosing action – performance – over fear, you are winning big.

 

B&W slam wheelWelcome Home!

Pre-show “jitters” – doesn’t that sound innocuous? Almost like a candy (“One large bag of popcorn and a box of Jitters, please!”). But oh – when you’re in the throes of anxiety, you know there’s nothing cute or sweet about it – it tastes like pure misery.

What must we remember when we find ourselves here, staring wide-eyed into an unknowable future? You are not alone. In fact, you are now part of a remarkable tradition of courageous people, going back thousands of years. Think of the millions who have stood where you are, thinking the same thoughts, feeling the same smallness, hearing the rush of blood in their ears and wondering how they will survive the next ten minutes. We are a part of a legacy – part of a long tradition of People Who Chose to Really Live. Welcome to the tribe! Welcome home. Love and pull-ups, Laura
 
 

 

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Are You Ready To Go Pro?

GripHello, Dear Danglers! This week I have such a treat for you – the FABULOUS Allison Williams! Enjoy!


 Are You Ready to Go Pro?

It finally happened. Someone clicked the contact button on your brand-new website and asked you to come perform at their event. This is it—the big time. Your teacher has finally said, “Yeah, that act is ready to perform.” You’ve joined some Facebook groups that talk about professional practices; you’re up to date on Laura’s blog. And you’ve noticed, Hey! Professional rates are pretty high! I’m gonna make bank! Or at least finally pay myself back for the thousands of dollars I’ve spent on training…

Whoa, Sparkle-Party! Don’t throw that triple yet!

It’s true, there’s a substantial push in the aerial “industry” for charging appropriate professional fees. Being aware of the going price, not undercutting your fellow performers, and being willing to say to a client, “That’s what aerial entertainment costs. I’m sorry you can’t afford me.”

But are you ready to be in that price range? Are you, in fact, a professional? Find out with this simple quiz!

TRUE or FALSE?

  • You know the market rate for different types of event, and you’re comfortable asking for it. You can assess the non-cash value of certain performing situations.
  • You own your own equipment and rigging. If you offer a particular act, you own all necessary equipment to execute that act.
  • You are comfortable rigging in a variety of situations (ceiling points, exposed beams, freestanding rigs). Even if you don’t rig your own equipment, you are able to judge whether a rigging situation is safe.
  • You can adapt your act to a variety of heights, moods, themes and performance lengths. You know when to say, “Sorry, that act won’t fit, I’m out.” Or, “Sorry, that act won’t fit, how about this other act?” Or, “I don’t do that act, but Cindy-Lou does, why don’t I put you in touch with her?”
  • You can guard your own safety at the event by being kind but firm about what un-contracted extras you are willing/not willing to do. You are flexible and try to give the client value for money. You will sometimes do un-contracted extras that are safe and a minimum of hassle, or in exchange for something else that was contracted.
  • You don’t ask if your friends can come to the event.
  • You own costumes suitable for varying levels of formality, and can adapt to many themes or color schemes. You have a list of your measurements that can be provided by hitting ‘reply’ when the costume person asks for your measurements, rather than four days later after you go buy a tape measure.
  • You own necessary accessories/consumables like rosin, tape, dance belt, theatrical makeup, hairspray, and clean, modest, whole cover-up/warm-up clothing.
  • You have a hairstyle that works with your costume, the theme and the act, and you can do your hair in the time allotted. You have a makeup look that suits your act, is visible from the audience, and stays put.
  • Your warm-up adapts to the available space and cleanliness of the warm-up area.
  • You know not to hand your own card to the client and you know why. You know not to talk to the client unless you are there alone or you are the designated person who talks to the client.
  • You have a short, “agent-friendly” (no contact info) video clip when someone needs to show you to the client before booking or for performer approval. In the clip, you are wearing a costume and performing a routine.

 

BONUS: You are able to smile at the client and say “of course!” when they ask if you “do that thing where you wrap up and come down real fast.”

11-12 TRUE: Congratulations, you’re ready to ask for professional rates in exchange for your professional-caliber performance!

Less than 11: Sorry, you still have some things to learn!

 

The good news: these aren’t difficult to learn. If you’re not ready yet, start putting in the time. Ask professional performers if you can come to a gig as a stage manager or gofer, be genuinely useful, and watch how they work. Ask your school for performance opportunities where you can go as an intern or junior performer, and work on someone else’s equipment and wear someone else’s costume while you learn how to do the job. If you’re young enough to work for crap pay, apply for an official internship.

Start saving up for costumes and equipment. Take a rigging workshop. Practice makeup in the mirror (that’s the fun one!). Next time you’re in a student show, make sure you get good video from a couple of angles. Ask your teachers about their most recent performances. Role-play responding to client requests, reasonable and unreasonable (it doesn’t feel dumb when you do it in the car).

Most of all, be brave about being ignorant. If you see something you don’t understand, ask (privately, politely, and after the gig). Read online discussions. Listen more than you talk. Be humble. Be helpful. We—your fellow aerialists—want you to learn these things. We want you to be professional. It makes us all look better.

Allison Williams is the Artistic Director of Aerial Angels. (www.angelsintheair.com)

 

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Why I Think You Should Absolutely Perform for Free

Chris Delgado & I bust a move at the Big Sky Works Holiday Show last year!

Chris Delgado & I bust a move at the Big Sky Works Holiday Show last year!

Hello Dear Danglers! The holiday season is upon us!!!! The mistletoe is hung on your trapeze, those cranberry bar thingies are back at Starbucks, and people are lining up to jingle our bells – it’s a festive time of year. It’s a season of generosity and giving, so I thought it might be a great time to talk about something near and dear to my heart: performing for free, and why I think you should absolutely do it…

Perform for Free

… when appropriate. Now, you’ve heard me rant and rave about not performing for free – what gives? Well, you do! You give your time and talents to a worthy cause! In this case, the “cause” I want to chat about is our circus spaces. Most studios have showcases several times a year, and this is a FAN-FREAKIN’-TASTIC time to donate your performance time. Consider:

    • Aerial studios aren’t rakin’ it in hand over fist. In fact, many are barely squeaking by here in NYC. Insurance costs just to open the door are astronomical, plus rent, plus equipment, plus marketing, plus admin, plus instructors…. you get the picture. These showcases allow them to get ahead just a tiny bit (or, for some, allow them to make the rent that month).
    • Giving back is important. Sure, we pay for space in these studios, so it’s not like we’re not giving. But this is special! This is support with your whole body and heart. It means something!
    • These showcases are the PERFECT time to trot out a new work-in-progress to see how it will play in front of real people, or a chance to do something silly or experimental that no one in their right mind would pay you for. I have to be Serious Snowflake or Enigmatic Elf all blessed season, so it’s a real treat to throw on something ridiculous and dust off the old acro act for a night!
    • When you do a showcase, you’re a part of a community that is fluid and always growing. Welcome newcomers, and say hi to old friends you never get to see! It’s also an awesome time for friends and family to come see what you’re dangling from these days.
    • Aspiring professionals NEED performance time, and this is the perfect way to get it! You can hone your circus and performance skills in a supportive, low-risk environment. Bonus? You need photos and video for your demo reel, and this is an easy way to get some great footage.
    • Not ready to perform? Buy tickets and show your support from the audience!

 

No, my head is not where you think it is. OK, it is, but it's not like that. OK. Glad we had this conversation.

No, my head is not where you think it is. OK, it is, but it’s not like that. OK. Glad we had this conversation.

Ask around! Find out when the studios in your area are putting shows together and GET IN THERE!!!! If nobody is doing showcases, organize one your own durned self! This is a time when you should absolutely, positively work for free (though I always find I’m compensated generously by having awesome places to train). Love and pull-ups, Laura

CLICK HERE to support The Muse in NYC! Move the Muse! 

 

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ACL Tears and Other Injuries: Guest Blogger Chriselle Tidrick!!!

Chriselle Tidrick, Above and Beyond Dance

Hello Dear Danglers! This week, I bring to you……. A GUEST BLOGGER!!! The amazing Chriselle Tidrick from Above and Beyond Dance recently shared her ACL rehab story with a reader, and generously allowed me to reprint it here. If you’ve torn your ACL, or have another serious injury, I hope her words inspire you to keep going, heal up, and be smart about it! I’ve seen her work recently, and you would never believe she’d ever had an injury. She was incredibly diligent in her PT, and made healing her second job. I love how she doesn’t sugar-coat it! Love and pull-ups, Laura

I unfortunately, do have a lot of experience with knee injuries.  I tore my ACL in 2012, and I hate to say but it’s a very challenging injury to deal with.  You can certainly get through this and return to a full performance life.  (Thankfully, I have.)  But, it takes a lot of time and a lot of work.
 
In terms of the injury itself, let me share a few things which you may already know, but which I wish I understood more fully when I tore my ACL.  Every orthopedist has a slightly different method of bringing you back after ACL surgery.  I happened to have a very conservative orthopedist.  The drag of this choice is that it took me longer than many others to make a full recovery.  The good thing is that he was really making an effort to protect me from re-tearing the ACL.  My understanding is that if you re-tear the ACL, your chances for making a full recovery are significantly diminished.  Like you, I asked very early in the process how soon I could expect to return to aerial.  My doctor recounted a horrifying story about how one of his patients returned to aerial too soon and completely ripped out his surgery.  Needless to say, this kept me from pushing too far too fast.  For me, it was a little over a year before I was back to training, and even then, it was a gradual process of strengthening and rebuilding my comfort level in the apparatus. (My knee is much more sensitive to torque than it used to be.)  For a long time, I had to switch to doing a lot of elements on my non-surgery side (which is also my non-dominant side).  That said, I understand it makes a difference whether you opt for an autograft or an allograft.  If you have an autograft (the doctor uses your own tissue– usually hamstring or patellar tendon), I understand that the healing time is shorter than for an allograft (donor graft).  I opted for an allograft because I had a previous injury on the leg with the ACL tear, and I didn’t want to further compromise that leg.
 
Right after surgery, you are going to spend a lot of time on a knee machine which takes your knee passively through range of motion.  I think I was on that thing for something like 6 hours a day.  If your orthopedist functions like mine, it will be a week or so before you start PT.  You will be shocked to discover how quickly your leg muscles atrophy.  Your early PT exercises will be very gentle and very simple, and you will very gradually build up to more full movement.  Once I was able, I spent about 2 hours a day, 5-6 days a week doing my PT exercises.  I quickly discovered that my desire to keep my aerial muscles in shape was supplanted by a desire to get my knee functioning properly, and my time and energy was mainly directed to doing as much PT as my body could handle.  I could carefully do chin-ups, chin holds and shoulder shrugs, and I used a rope pulling machine at the gym, but I really opted to keep my focus on the knee rehab.  As soon as my knee was stable enough, I did spend a lot of time also doing floor barre and Pilates.  Since you have a doorway bar, you can probably add in L holds pretty early on, but just be careful not to stress out your hip flexors too much.  They’ll be pretty stressed from schlepping around on crutches!
 
I am sure this doesn’t apply to you, if you are already asking about aerial training. It sounds like you are the kind of person who will regularly do her PT.  But, honestly, for anyone not serious about keeping up with PT, I’d seriously consider living life with a brace and not doing the surgery.  Granted, this choice means you will never be able to return to aerial training, but if you don’t do your PT you won’t be able to go back to it, either…
 
Let me also stress that it’s important to work with PTs accustomed to dealing with dancers/athletes as you go through this process.  Our rehab needs are different from people who have more sedentary jobs, and you will definitely need guidance about what is or is not safe for your knee as you return to training.  I was lucky that one of the 2 PTs I worked with at Harkness Center for Dance Injuries does aerial training.  She really walked me through my return to aerial.  Her suggestion to me was that I start with static trap/lyra and then progress into fabric.  I will say that there are definitely more positions involving uncomfortable torque in aerial fabric, so you’ll want to be really careful (go slowly!) as you explore those.  I am sure your PTs will tell you this, but hamstring strength is key as you return to aerial.
 
What can I tell you about coming back to aerial after being away for so many months?  Well, it was such a gradual process that, even though I was weak, I could gradually add in more and more strengthening activities at a pace that basically matched the kinds of skills I was allowed to do.  For conditioning, I mostly worked shoulder shrugs, chin holds, chin ups, inversions (bent arm and straight arm), and I did a lot of Pilates.  The hardest thing was rebuilding my endurance once my knee was strong enough to execute choreographic sequences, but that came back too, as it certainly will for you.  I am sorry to tell you that this will be a really slow, annoying and frustrating process, but everything really will come back.  At this point, I am as strong as ever and enjoying having a full performing life as a dancer, aerialist and stilt dancer.  
 
Wishing you a smooth recovery process.  Believe me, I feel your pain! – Chriselle 

 
 

 

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Face Palm! When Performance Goes Horribly Wrong

Ghetto StrapsStory time! So, this past week, I saw an old flame for the first time in about 12 years. Now, I’m a blissfully happy married lady, but you know how this works. No matter how much of a douche he was, no matter how happy you are now, you REALLY want to look amazing when you see him. With this in mind, I booked myself an afternoon at the salon to get my color done (it’s quite the ordeal). When the poor stylist took the foils out of my hair the first time, my streak was half yellow, half lilac. I sh*t you not. So, the guy puts Extra Strong Heavy Duty Super Terrifying Bleach on my hair to try again (by this time, I was just hoping that my hair would actually stay attached to my head). We rinsed again, and success! Glorious color! But now, it was too late to blow my hair out to the sleek, sophisticated do I’d envisioned.

 

 “I know!” said my stylist. “I’ll make it all Burnadette Peters fabulous! The higher the hair, the closer to Jesus!”

 

He proceeded to tease and spray my hair until it stood a full four inches off my head. Instead of cool and collected, I looked like the Wild Woman of Borneo. To top it off, there was a gale-force wind outside. By the time I saw my old dalliance, I looked like a homeless woman who had been though a hurricane. Oh – it was so bad. Instead of the, “Damn! I can’t believe I let that get away!” I had hoped to inspire, I’m fairly certain he thought, “Damn! Dodged THAT bullet!” Awesomeness fail.

 

Aside from a bruised ego, I was fine, of course. But what on earth does this have to do with anything aerial, you’re asking? Well, I’m a-tellin’ ya. Have you ever had a performance go very, very wrong? Messed up your routine? Got tied in a knot? Or (worst of all), gone Big Boom like our friend below? When you feel completely humiliated, it’s HARD on the ego. Grab some cawfee and a prune danish. Let’s tawk.

 

When You Just Want to Die

Performances are funny things. Rehearsal is meant to prepare you for every eventuality, but when you’re confronted with an audience, nerves, lights, loud music, and a host of other things you didn’t have to contend with beforehand, stuff can get weird. Fast. When you finish a performance feeling more mortified than marvelous, keep the following in mind:
  1. It’s almost never as bad as you think. The audience may have had a COMPLETELY different view of your act than you did! Find a sounding board you trust, kvetch a bit, and let them console you. Very therapeutic as long as it doesn’t become a habit!
  2.  If it was, in fact, as bad as you think, try to put it in perspective. Other than your ego, is anything else in shambles? Unless there was a Cirque du Soleil scout in the audience, chances are that this one performance won’t have any major repercussions in the grand scheme of things.
  3. If you clearly and meaningfully injure yourself (intense pain, a blow to the head, etc), stop immediately and, as gracefully as possible, exit the stage. It’s tempting to try to keep going, but adrenaline could be masking more injury than you think. Really be conservative on this one. If you destroy your body, where are you going to live?

 

Prepare the Right Way

I’m big on troubleshooting and preventing problems before shows. Not everything can be anticipated, but here are some good places to start.
  1. Rehearse your ass off. If you’re a seasoned professional, you can push your limits a bit. But for the student or green performer, you’ll want to make sure you can easily complete your act three times in one hour. Can’t do it? Make the piece shorter or put in more resting moves.
  2. Make sure you’re totally 100% comfortable with the elements of your piece. Performance is not the time to bust out the stuff you’re struggling with or just learned yesterday!!!! This cannot be overstated. Know what you’re doing onstage.  
  3. If you’re doing ambient work (nightclubs, for example), don’t just wing it. Prior to the event, string together lots of sequences that are second nature for you. Not only does this keep you safer, but it keeps your work dynamic so you don’t keep repeating the same four moves ad nauseum.
  4. Check your lighting. Make sure you have enough light to consistently see your apparatus (and the floor if you’re doing fabrics or a flying apparatus, especially if it’s a dark floor). You also want to make sure you’re not being blinded or disoriented by bright lighting. Talk to the LD (lighting designer) about your needs. For us, we request a basic wash on the apparatus (and floor if we need it), about 70% brightness for stage shows, and no strobes, fast-spinning gobos, or unexpected bally-hoos with the lights. Beyond that, they can have fun!
  5. Make sure the sound person is really clear on when to start your music. 
  6.  If there’s time, do a quick sequence on your apparatus in the space. Just a little “check in” can make a big difference in how comfortable you feel.
  7. Do a good warm up and make sure you’re hydrated and fueled! Eat a light meal about 90 minutes before the show, and make sure you’ve been sipping water regularly. A warm-up should elevate your body temperature, take your muscles and joints through their anticipated range of motion, and get you feeling strong and ready.

 

 

Enjoy the Show! Do a good prep, do your best onstage. If the piece goes Very Wrong, take heart: we’ve ALL had awful shows. Truly! Take a good look at what happened, and learn from your experience. Then, go have Dance-on-the-Table-Margarita Night with your best friends, and make them all tell you repeatedly how awesome you are. Because you are awesome. 🙂 Love and pull-ups, Laura

As always, if you like this post, share it on your blog, the F-books, Twitter, and wherever else you crazy kids are sharing things these days.

 

You Look Constipated in the Air – 6 Ways to Get Things Movin’!

 

Baruch Bash 2012 So, Dear Danglers, I’m sitting here drinking a gallon of coffee (Magic Elixir of Life), and watching my guilty pleasure: “The Sing Off”. Oh, how I love it! It pushes every cheesy musical button I have. Anyhoo, as I was watching this morning, I was struck yet again by the difference between artists who perform with their whole soul, and those bobble heads who look like they fell out of a Miss Universe pageant (Constipated Performers). Give me authentic and raw verses slick and sanitized any day! So, how do you avoid looking like you need a Metamucil IV stat? Re-think your goals.

 

Your Goal in Class is Probably Wrong

When you first begin your training, the emphasis is on learning foundational technique, broadening your movement vocabulary, getting stronger, and trying not to fall down. As you gain strength, confidence, and learn how to straighten your supporting leg (STRAIGHTEN YOUR DAMNED SUPPORTING LEG!!!), many of you begin to place the emphasis on cramming your head full of as many new moves as you can. WRONG! Let new moves be the “spice” of class, but the meat and potatoes should be cultivating your own style in the air. You can’t begin too early with this! Once you’re working comfortably and confidently in a move, your next question is, “How do I make this MINE?” There is only ONE YOU, and please believe me when I say that the world does not need any more aerial automatons.


Tweet: Let new aerial moves be the “spice” of class, but the meat and potatoes should be cultivating your own style in the air.


6 Ways to Loosen Things Up

  1. What do you like? How does YOUR body like to move? What feels good? What looks good? Are you “liquid” in your movements? Sharp? Flexible? Strong? Start answering these, and you have a great place to start.
  2. Now, PLAY! Some of the best advice I ever got (thank you, Vladimir Chvalbo!) was to take a move – ANY move – and see how many ways you can play in it. Bring yourself up, down, sideways, backwards, left, right – PLAY.
  3. Work that tempo! Nothing screams snooze-fest more than an artist who only moves at one speed. We ALL have to fight against this – it’s comfy to work at “our” tempo all the time! Vary that rhythm, friend – shake it up! (… and down, and UP, and down, JAZZ HANDS! TURN TURN STEP KICK SHIMMY BAM!!!!!…. ahem. Sorry – accidental dance break…)
  4. What do YOU have to say? What are you expressing with your body right now? Doesn’t have to be all angst and underpants, it can be joy, freedom, desire, melancholy, fierceness – anything! Start playing a bit with bringing the inside out. (WARNING: this takes some bravery and vulnerability, so start small if you’re nervous! Instead of “crushing defeat”, maybe try “a little disappointed”. Instead of “I want to rip your clothes off”, try “call me maybe”. You get the idea.)
  5. Dance like nobody’s watching! We can get REALLY hung up on not wanting to look stupid. I get that!!! But being free from the good opinion of others is like a muscle that needs to be worked out. Take tiny creative risks – move your arm or leg, roll your head, etc. Little by little, you’ll get braver and braver. Today? An arm sweep. Tomorrow? The world. (note: if you’re in a class that isn’t supportive of creativity – teacher or students – find a new class. Your teacher is there to keep you safe and teach you good technique, not squash your creative soul.) 
  6. Video yourself! You’ll never know if that hair-ography is doing you proud unless you video! Always ask your teacher (different instructors have different policies), and remember – your classmates are your classmates, not your personal videographers. When you watch yourself, remember – BE GENTLE WHILE YOU’RE BEING HONEST. You’re trying out new stuff, and being very brave. Make a note of what doesn’t work, and focus on what does. Now, do more of the latter!

 It’s the best thing in the world to see someone working from their soul as a completely unique individual. Some folks fall into this naturally, but most of us have to work damned hard at that kind of performance or approach. So start where you’re comfortable, and then sneak a toe outside that comfort zone. You’ll be glad you did (and so will your audience). Baby steps, ya’ll! Love and pull-ups, Laura

Here’s what got me going this morning. Wait till they “take it to church”!

 

 
 

 

As always, if you like this post, share it on your blog, the F-books, Twitter, and wherever else you crazy kids are sharing things these days.

 

Defensive Much? Your Ability to Deal with Criticism Determines Success in the Air AND on the Ground!

Truth? Criticism is hard. It can hurt. Even the most constructive of comments can sometimes land wrong, and let’s not even get to the shooting-straight-from-the-hip kind! What’s a sensitive artist soul to do? Armor up, Gorgeous – criticism is a gold mine.

Why It’s So Valuable

I recently gave a student (who wishes to go pro) some rigging corrections, and if looks could kill, I would have forks stabbed into my eyeballs and at least 20 knives impaling key organs. Instead of asking questions and embracing an opportunity to learn, girlfriend shut down. What a shame! The older I get, the more I realize that the world is FULL of people with oodles of things to teach you if you shut your mouth and open your ears (which, admittedly, I could do a lot more of myself!). Got an expert giving you corrections, advice, or critiques? JUMP on that train, friend! Even if it’s not info you can use right now, or if it doesn’t align with your goals or beliefs, come at it with a receptive heart and see what you can find. Brace yourself – you may be mistaken, working inefficiently, or seeing a very narrow slice of the whole picture.

 

When to Listen and When to Mentally Moon Them

Listen:

  • when they’re an expert and know more than you do – ask them lots of questions!
  • when they’re your target audience – listen carefully, this is marketing gold
  • when they have a very different point of view – this can shake you up and encourage you to see more than just your back yard

Moon them:

  • if they are decidedly NOT an expert
  • when they’re far from your target audience
  • when they’re abusive or aggressive (you can still consider their input even if it’s delivered in an indelicate way, just mentally moon them while you do it)
  • they are someone you suspect of having impure motives, or not considering what is best for you

 

How to Thwart the Tantrum You REALLY WANT TO THROW

Truth? I really struggle with this. If I’m in a receptive mood, no problemo. BUT, if I’m having an (ahem) “sensitive” day, all criticism is like nails on a chalkboard. And you know what? I lose. When I succumb to defensiveness, and essentially stuff my fingers in my ears and scream LALALALALALALALA, I lose. When I think of some of the opportunities that have passed me by because my ego got in the way, I cringe. But – I can do better! And so can you.

  • Be a student, even if it’s just for a few minutes
  • Write it down – there’s something in the act of writing things down that makes them feel less personal
  • Speaking of, don’t take it personally – easier said than done, for sure! Especially when it FEELS very personal. State your point of view without resorting to defensiveness, and listen to see if there’s some truth in what they’re saying. Asking questions is a great way to do this!
  • If you’re getting defensive and emotional, explain that you’re not in a place to really hear them right this second, but you value what they have to say. Ask if you can continue the conversation another time, and then do it! People understand!

The more we can really listen and take good criticism, the better we get. Period. This is something I’m really committed to working on – come join me! Love and pull-ups, Laura

For more on becoming a better student, have a look at this blog post! 🙂 

Are we too thin-skinned to handle criticism? Interesting read!

As always, if you like this post, share it on your blog, the F-books, Twitter, and wherever else you crazy kids are sharing things these days.

 

I’m Back – Killian Cog Pictures!

Hello all! A huge thank you for all your kind words and well-wishes for “The Bizarre and Curious Quest of Killian Cog”, our new touring show. SUPER EXCITING! I’m still playing catch-up, but I thought you might want a quick peek at some of the acts. More soon! Enjoy! Love and pull-ups, Laura

 

Aerial wheel!

 

 

Duo Spanish Web

 

 

Hula hoops!

 

 

Hand to Hand

 

 

German wheel (that’s me in the corner!)

 

 

  

 

As always, if you like this post, share it on your blog, the F-books, Twitter, and wherever else you crazy kids are sharing things these days.