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Category Archives: Performance

Sour Grapes: Why is SHE Working and I’M not??!!!

Good question! IMPORTANT question! Also? Complicated question. We all have “sour grape” moments, when we wonder why someone (who is CLEARLY an inferior artist…) is getting oodles of work, but we’re left out in the cold. It’s not fair, right?! Well, not so fast…


What Goes Into Hiring

The first thing to understand is what goes on on the other side of the casting table. For a more in-depth take on this, click here. Quick considerations:


1 – do you have a reputation for being easy to work with, or would you give Shannen Doherty a run for her money?

2 – are you SURE you’re as awesome as you think? How’s that technique? How’s your performance quality? Just askin’….

3 – do you only perform on one apparatus or do you have two solid acts ready to go tomorrow?

4 – ever pulled a Charlie Sheen? How’s your reputation? Are you always late? Flaky? Do you get back to people ASAP on things? Reputation is HUGE.

5 – are you chained to a day job? How’s your availability for gigs & rehearsals?

6 – have you been whining about how you don’t know ________________? (about rigging, how to get work, who to submit to, etc.) How pro-active are you at continuing your education and shoring up your weak spots?


What You May Be Missing

That “sub-par” performer you’re hating on must be doing SOMETHING right! Your job is to figure out what it is. Does s/he:

1 – have a great website chock full of photos and video?

2 – cultivate good relationships with companies who hire circus artists by updating them regularly on skills, acts, and shows?

3 – have at least two performance-ready acts suitable for events or shows? An aerial plus a ground act is GOLD, though two aerial acts can work too.

4 – pound that pavement? How many doors have YOU been knocking on? Producers aren’t just going to magically come to you!

5 – constantly network and surround themselves with amazing people? Make a concerted effort to learn about aspects of rigging or the business that they don’t know?

So, what if they’re working all the time because they work for peanuts? That, my friend, is another story. Don’t do that – it’s silly.


Stash Your Ego and Learn as Much as You Can

Here it is in a nutshell: as the circus industry floods with aerialists (and oh – is it FLOODING), only a few will work. Why? Because only a few will treat it like a business. You will not know everything day one out of the gate. In fact, you will never know everything. Some of the best advice I ever got:

1 – surround yourself with the BEST people

2 – learn everything you can. Everyone has something to teach you – even if it’s a cautionary tale.

Pay attention to what other artists are doing that seems to be productive, and take note of what isn’t. If you’re not working, you must take a long, hard look at why, and not be afraid of the answer. Find yourself getting defensive? Fear. Making excuses? Fear. Your artistic future is in your hands – how will you shape it TODAY? You have more power than you can imagine. Get busy. Spend less time chewing sour grapes, more time building AN EMPIRE! 😉 Love and pull-ups, Laura

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Who I’m Loving Today – Sofia Tsola

Dear Danglers – that is ONE HELLUVA STARTING POSITION! Notice how gloriously deliberate and precise every move is. Also? Clean and sassy (she doesn’t gum up her stunning work with a lot of random noodling). I love this, and hope you will too! Love and pull-ups, Laura






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The Great Boobie Caper – Aerial Necklines in Training & Performance

Hello Dear Danglers! Welcome to my latest attempt at a video blog! Let’s just say that this one was FRAUGHT with technical difficulties, and that the next one will be way, way better. 😉 Love and pull-ups, Laura



What are YOUR secrets for excellent ta-ta control? Share them in the comments below – we want to know!!!!




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The REAL Danger of Trapeze

Sittin’ pretty… totally unaware of the dangers that lurk just around the bar…..



Hello Dear Danglers! I’m taking a quick break from our regularly scheduled blogging to bring you one of my favorite posts ever – I actually snarfed coffee through my nose, and am considering suing the author (my aerial partner of 10 years, Miz Angela Attia) – how dare she make me laugh that hard! I could have pulled an inter-costal! I’m still working on Preggie Training – Part Deux, so keep an eye out! Love and pull-ups, Laura


The Dark Secret of the Trapeze World No One Dares Speak Of…..



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Play That Funky Music! Choosing & Using Tunes for Your Act

Happy Holidays, Dear Danglers!!!!! Many of you had questions about music – legal issues surrounding use, how to choose it, whether you should have it composed, etc. So, while we’re up to our eyeballs in the sounds of the season, I thought I would serenade you with a few musical musings!


Legal Fun – CAN You Use That Song?

No, probably not. Unless you have contacted the artist and received permission, or paid for the use of a song, you cannot legally use that tune. There’s a popular myth out and about that you can use up to 30 seconds of a song without having to pay royalties or fees, but it ain’t true I’m sad to say. But never fear – you’ve got options!

  • live dangerously, use the music anyway, and hope you don’t get caught. Truth? Most artists out there are using somone else’s music and not paying to do so. If you’re busted, you will likely receive a “cease and desist” letter before the artist takes further measures (but you never know…). In addition to the legal issues, there’s one big thing you need to consider: other performers will HAPPILY steal *your* music for their act. Good songs are tough to find, so don’t be surprised when you arrive at your next gig to find that three of you will have to change your music because four of you showed up wanting to perform to the “Matrix” soundtrack!
  • contact the artist and request permission. This tends to work better with lesser-known bands. If you really love the song, it’s worth a shot!
  • pay to use a popular song. Click here to delve into this very involved topic.
  • Pay to use royalty-free music from a site like or . Have a look – the songs don’t suck!
  • Have your music composed. This is by far my favorite option! Once your act is REALLY finished, you can have a perfect piece of music created just for you – no one can swipe it, it’s completely unique, and it suits your act perfectly. WIN!


Choosing Tunes: Music Must-Know

Whatever you decide to go with, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Levels are crucial. Music that stays in one place for five minutes is booooooooooooooooooring for circus acts. Look for changes in tempo, percussion, orchestral levels, etc. – you want LOTS of variation!
  • Lyrics are tricky! Unless your piece is actually about the words, it gets super weird. An audience will automatically assume your piece is about whatever lyrics are playing, so don’t trot out that song about motorcyles, waxing, and a pickle unless you mean it! (note from Laura: please, PLEASE – do not make a piece about motorcycles, waxing, and pickles. Please.)
  • Keep your audience in mind. Cirque-style corporates require one thing, your roommate’s bohemian naked art fest requires something completely different.


Whatever you choose, keep in mind that music is one of the most important elements of your performance – don’t choose it lightly! Love and pull-ups, Laura


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Going Pro: Step 1 – The Most Important Decision You’ll Make

MakeupHappy Thursday, Dear Danglers! So many of you have emailed and asked the great, burning question of our times: “How do I know when it’s time to go pro? Should I go pro? What’s the first step?” Let’s take a look-see, shall we?


 Get Your Head in the Game

Going pro is, first and foremost, a decision that you make. It informs everything from the way you take care of your body, to your training, to the way you approach your business. Are you one foot in and one foot out? It’s fine if you are, but you probably won’t make much headway anytime soon. Going pro means being all in – heart and soul. You know you’re in that head space when you:


  •  Buckle down:  decide to take your training seriously, and show up every day and do the work whether you feel like it or not
  • Commit:  make the decision that no matter what – come hell or high water – you are going to be a professional aerialist. Bring it.
  • Assess: cultivate an accurate assessment of your bodys strengths and weaknesses
  • Nourish: pay attention to what you put in your body (in every sense, people. Step awaaaaaaaaaaaay from the nachos and that guy with the skinny jeans. ESPECIALLY the guy with the skinny jeans.)
  • Protect: begin training with an eye towards injury prevention and longevity. If your body wears out, where are you gonna live? Who’s going to do your act?
  • Invest: shift the focus from, “I want to be a circus star!” to “I am a part of an incredible community!” and aim to structure your future business to support that community rather than undermining it with unhealthy business practices (that make me stabby)
  • Think: begin to see yourself as a (completely amazing) product, requiring marketing, promotion, and industry savvy
  • Connect: seek out reputable mentors, check your ego at the door, and become a sponge for solid career advice. Hint: look for someone living the dream. No, the luscious guy who teaches your Zumba class is probably not an appropriate mentor (but take him to lunch anyway. And when did we start becoming appropriate?)


I totally wish the first letter of each of these spelled out someting cool, but I gave up about half way through my morning coffee. Just pretend!


Luminosity Duo Lyra

Am I There Yet? Maybe….

When you stop dabbling and really commit yourself to the insanely hard work of becoming the best damned performer you know how to be, you’re on your way.  Try to see the big picture – begin with the end in mind and structure your training accordingly. When you hit the “sweet spot” of this internal shift, suddenly everything becomes inspiration for your work, and ideas are everywhere. You will be en fuego!!! Here’s to you being unstoppable, Dear Dangler! Get to work! Love and pull-ups, Laura



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VIDEO: Getting Into Cirque

Hello Dear Danglers! First, let me thank everyone who asked after all of us here in NYC in the wake of Hurricane Sandy! Classes are back in full swing (heh heh), and I’m positively giddy with excitement. HOORAY!


I was trolling the YouTubes for juicy little tidbits to share with you, and found this fun look into the process of becoming a Cirque du Soleil performer – funzies! Regular blog posts will resume this Thursday now that things are reasonably “back to normal” (whatever that is), so thanks for your patience. Enjoy! Love and pull-ups, Laura


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Choreograph a Super-Star Aerial Piece in 5 Easy Steps

Laura & Angela’s Halloween show fun!

Well, perhaps that’s simplifying it a bit, but it doesn’t have to be a torturous twelve year process, either! With all the Halloween shows and student showcases coming up in NYC, I’ve been hearing a lot of, “I really want to put together a piece, but I have no idea where to begin”. Fret not, Dear Dangers, help is on the way!


5 Steps to a (Potentially) Damned Good Piece

  1. Give yourself enough time to pull together a piece you can really be proud of! Two weeks before the show is NOT the time to start putting ideas together and frantically gluing rhinestones to an old leotard.
  2. Decide on a theme, scenario, or feeling for the piece. Is it seasonal? Fluffy? Dramatic and expressive? Who is your audience? The more specific you can get with it, the more inventive and creative you will be forced to be.  Yes, you CAN do a piece who’s only goal is to highlight your amazing splits and ballerina toes, but wouldn’t it be more interesting to be an alien who got gummed up in her own space goo? Or an aerialist who’s partner has just keeled over (see below)? If you’re a bit hemmed in by having to create a corporate piece, just keep in mind that, while they may not want a space-goo-ed alien, that same sense of creativity and specificity still applies (just temper it for your client/audience as needed).
  3. Make a list of your current favorite moves or bits you want to force yourself to work on. This is a GREAT way to corner yourself into tackling tricks you’ve been avoiding, while showcasing your particular brand of fabulousness!
  4. Arrange the segments in a logical order so you don’t make like a demented bumble bee and kill yourself with unnecessary transitions. Try to make sure you’re including a reasonable amount of variety (above/below/on the bar, fabric open/closed, extended/contracted, you get the picture).
  5. Work creatively to add transitions that are deliberate, seamless, and really add to the character you’re portraying or to the theme of the piece. Please (PLEASE) resist the urge to “noodle” (randomly wave your arms and legs around) – even if it’s pretty, it gets old so fast. This is your chance to really have some fun and express yourself! Don’t be afraid to really work outside the box here – you can always pull it back.


TRAINING TIP: to figure out where you’re most likely to blank on choreography, mark the piece on the ground as fast as you can; this prevents you from thinking ahead, and shows you where the spacey bits are.


Putting it All Together

Now, you run it, run it, and run it again. How does it feel? Use your Trusty Video Camera to evaluate whether some ugly bits are happening, or if there are places you could spice it up a hair. Some pieces are just for fun or for specific shows, and some are meant to be performed long-term (your corporate act, for example); we have holiday pieces we re-visit yearly. Just remember that it’s a process – you’ll work it and rework it as time goes on, so don’t get obsessed with creating something “perfect”. Just start. Right NOW! Get moving, shoo! 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.