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Category Archives: Performance

How to Sabotage Your Career and Training – A Users Guide

Oh Dear Danglers, there is an epidemic sweeping our nation. It’s a plague of the worst kind, because it’s victims are generally oblivious to it.This insidious pestilence, which has caused thousands of circus performers to lose work, and hundreds of students to forfeit their spot in class, has reached an all-time high. What is this vile contagion? Flakiness, Dear Dangler, flakiness.

How to Ruin Your Career Before it Starts

 I can think of at least five performers, this very second, whom I would love to use in shows and events, but won’t. I refuse to put myself through the endless work, drama, and general pain-in-the-ass-ness these performers put me though. Want to join their ranks? Do this:

1. Don’t get back to me quickly when I call or email you about an event.

This one is the biggie, folks! Most producers and casting directors have an A List, B List, and a C List when casting (HINT: you want to be on the A List!). Our A List performers are not only wildly talented, but they make my life SO MUCH EASIER by getting back to me as soon as they get my email with a “yes”, “no”, or “let me get back to you by _______”. I have a client waiting for answers; if you’re slow answering my email or phone call, we will pass you by, or not use you again. True dat.

2. Play coy.

If your standard rate for your act is $1000, but you’re willing to negotiate if an event is right around the corner from your house, super easy, offers sweet perks, involves luscious male models, etc., then say so! If you tell me $1000 is your absolute minimum, I will not call you for less. Say what you mean, and mean what you say; be forthright, candid, and up-front so I know when to call you.

3. Show up at my event without crucial equipment or accessories.

It’s one thing to forget your eye-pencil sharpener, it’s something quite different to forget your costume. Make a standard packing list for events, then add gig-specific items as you’re notified about them. Three days before your event, do your pack, ensuring that everything is in working order, clean, and in good repair. You don’t want to find out mid-show that the small hole in the crotch of your unitard has gotten A LOT bigger! Ain’t nobody wants to see all that.

Why Flaky Students Get Last Pick of Classes and Pay More

Do you wait until the last second to try to get into your preferred class? Do you routinely email your instructor asking for a private this afternoon? Does your teacher make money without ever seeing your face because you’re a no-show for classes? Then you, Dear Dangler, are being flaky. Quit it! If your classes are important, schedule them at least several days in advance. Got a wildly unpredictable schedule? No worries! Chat with your teacher – most of us are used to accommodating wonky schedules if we know your situation in advance, and are happy to do so.
Also? Come to class in proper clothing, get there with a bit of time to spare, and use that time to warm up. Anything less means YOU lose out – and that is no fun!!!

At The End of the Day…

Flakiness is rarely localized – it tends to bleed into every area of our lives.We all have our flaky bits here and there, but you REALLY don’t want to be known as the performer who never calls back, or the student who’s more likely to cancel an hour before the lesson than show up – it makes others take you less seriously. Flakiness may yield success for the Paris Hiltons of the world, but you and me ain’t Paris Hilton. Give yourself the edge of being really “on it” – you would be amazed at how far it goes! Love and pull-ups, Laura

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Erika Lemay – Lyra Brilliance

I first worked with Erika Lemay in a show in Venezuela many moons ago. She must have been about 16 – coltish, a little awkward, and very sweet, performing on fabrics and duo straps. WELL. Gone is the awkwardness, and in it’s place is pure, unadulterated brilliance – VA-VOOM! She is one of my all-time favorite lyra performers – have a look at the video and you’ll see why. Bravo, Erika! Love and pull-ups, Laura


PS – aerial students & fledgling aerialists – look at how beautifully put together this act is. NOTHING is an afterthought – her (composed) music, costume, choreography, right down to her hair – combines to create a very specific picture.





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An Artist’s Work is Never Done – Or is It?

Takin’ it back to the studio!

Hello Dear Danglers! I found the blog post below while zooming around the interwebs the other day, and thought I’d share it with you! The author, Michael Roberts, has a great site called Revive Your Creativity dedicated to helping artists get organized and “get the work done” – you can check it out here (because seriously – you need to get the work done).

As a aerialist, I have a full repertoire of performance-ready pieces, but every single one of them has gone “back to the shop for repairs” as my skills grow, my strength improves, or my artistic vision for the act changes. Ever gone back to a piece or watched video and had a giant “oh-sweet-heavens-what-was-I-thinking-face-palm-moment”? Yep – me too. As circus artists, we are in the unique position of working in what I call a “fluid medium”, meaning that many of our creations can be considered both complete (performance ready) and never finished at the same time – how awesome is that?

I really like what Michael says about our art needing an audience, what it means for our piece when we can’t find one (back to the drawing board!), and letting go of the fear of the criticism of our work. Remember: no one ever died because Jane the Circus Critic said their work was le poo and their feet were sickled. Tell Jane to go jump in the lake, take a good long look at your act, and (for the love of God!!!) fix those ugly feet. Have a read – hope you like it! Love and pull-ups, Laura

Seeking Validation as Artists

by Michael Roberts, Revive Your Creativity (used with permission)

How do you decide when you should feel good about your art? How do you decide when something is “good enough”? How do you know when an artistic project is actually done?

These are some of the questions that haunt artists. I’ve heard plenty of stories of artists who could never be happy with the work they produced. If they keep fidgeting with the work, then perhaps they will suddenly achieve some sort of perfection – even though true perfection isn’t even possible.

But why do we give in to this sort of indulgent behavior? Why do we go back for the twenty-fourth revision?

The Excuse of “In Progress”

As long as our work is “in progress”, then there is a plausible excuse for the flaws that are present. As long as the work isn’t completely finished, then we’ve given ourselves a chance to fix it. Just maybe we’ll avoid the harsh criticism of the audience. Even more importantly – maybe we’ll be able to catch the audience’s attention in the first place.

There are difficult truths we have to realize in these vulnerable stages.

We can’t be perfect. No matter how hard we try. No matter how many revisions. We just can’t do it.

We can’t improve by staying in a perpetual state of revision. Art needs an audience. If the art can’t find its audience, then that problem is telling to problems that may need to be fixed. If the art meets with just criticism, then the artist can find ways to improve for the next project.

People will always have issue with what you create. We can’t please everyone in any area of our lives. Why would a deeply personal expression like art be any different?

Accepting and Letting Go

To many artists, the toughest point of creation is letting go, of showing someone else the artwork for the first time. It’s terrifying. We put ourselves into our art, and then we readily release it to a world who may or may not appreciate it.

But, art is communication. Communication is rather inefficient if we keep it to ourselves.

There are artists who create only for themselves, but the work can’t grow. It can’t reach anyone if it isn’t shared.

If we can never overcome the fear of sharing and the fear of rejection, then we can never grow as artists.

Start small. Don’t show someone your biggest project that you’ve been working on for years. Show a quick project to someone and experience the emotions that come with the possibility of rejection. Then, build your way up.

We don’t have to throw ourselves into the worst situations so that we can somehow earn more merit by “suffering as artists”. Protect your heart. You’ll need it for all the beautiful works you’ve yet to create.

To read more cool stuff from Michael, head on over to




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VIDEO: Brilliant Movement and Character – Are YOU Fleshing Out Your Performances?

There’s a LOT to love about this fun and imaginative performance, but I am completely in love with her movement quality and the specificity of her character work – SUPERB! Let this inspire you to create magic this week (and every week). Enjoy! Love and pull-ups, Laura





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On Ninnies, Artists, and Makin’ it Rain: Final Thoughts on Working Cheap

No idea what this post is referring to? Start here! “Workin’ Cheap: How Short-Sighted Ninnies Are Killing Our Profession”

WELL, Dear Danglers – my little bloggie caused something of a stir last week! Having read some interesting comments and participated in some great discussions, I have a final thought (or four) on the issue. Is it somehow “un-artistic” to hope to pay your bills with your aerial work? Should you charge professional prices when you’re just starting out? Should you drop your prices if you’re working in a small market? GOOD QUESTIONS. Let’s discuss!

What Heartened Me

First, let me define exactly who this post was aimed at: aerialists getting into events (corporate, private, promotions, etc.) and cirque-style shows like those produced by Cirque Productions, Poet Theatricals, my company ImaginAerial, and dozens of other event companies. Small touring shows, self-produced runs, and small artistic ventures are in a different category entirely (remember: the first question to ask is, “Who is making money off me?” If the answer is nobody, well, that’s a silk of a different color!).

I got oodles of positive feedback from the established aerial community who’s been dealing with this issue for a while now. I’m not arrogant or crazy, and that $600 starting price wasn’t pulled out of thin air – that’s the general minimum we’ve been charging (and making) in events for upwards of a decade. I was also supremely heartened by the response from young aerialists who now have an idea of what the going market price is in events. When/if they’re ready to go pro in this area, they have a ballpark figure to work from. This very issue is why unions have been formed for other artistic genres (Actors Equity, SAG/AFTRA, etc) – there’s always someone willing to work cheap, but a true professional knows the value of their work.

(Note: for a touring show, you reduce your rate in the sense that you don’t just multiply the number of shows x your base rate. The more shows you do per week (within reason), the better deal you give. Too much to go into in this post – another time!)

What Surprised Me

What surprised me the most was the idea that asking for a living wage for your work somehow makes you “in it for the money”. Let’s be honest – did any of us get into this seeing gigantic dollar signs? Of course not. BUT, in order to be consistently working artists, we have to approach our work as we would any business. When you add up the cost of rehearsal space, equipment, costumes, music composition, business cards, insurance, website, travel, photographers (the list goes on and on – I’m stopping so as not to depress myself), you realize that you have to charge appropriately or fold. It really is just that simple.

We are certainly not the only industry in the throes of this problem – it’s an epidemic among freelancers in everything from graphic design to copy writing. These links make the point nicely:

F-You, Pay Me! (this one’s got some strong language – if that offends you, don’t click!)

Should I Work for Free?

There’s also a large question about what makes a professional a professional, versus a hobby trapezista, amateur, or green aerialist. Folks – if you’re awesome enough to work professionally and have all your ducks in a row (great costume, composed music, understanding of basic rigging, meticulously choreographed kick-booty 6-8 minute act, business cards, website, promo reel, proper photos, performers insurance, etc), then you are ready to run with the big dogs. And charge accordingly. (This deserves – and will get – it’s own post down the road!)

 In Closing

Good art and entertainment are valuable, and worth being paid for. The florist gets paid, the caterer gets paid, the lighting designer gets paid, the event planner gets paid, the stage manager gets paid – the talent should get paid too. You may have to scale up or down a bit depending on your regional market, but it’s up to you to make sure you’re engaging in healthy business practices by not undercutting an entire industry in your eagerness to work.

You may notice that I have left comments closed on this post. It’s not because I don’t want to have discussions, but I AM going on vacation for a whole week, and I frankly don’t want to spend the entire time moderating comments. Besides, as we’ve discovered, the internet is a poor forum for a robust discussion of ideas. So, I challenge you to talk about this issue in person with your peers, your class mates, and anyone else you care to hash it out with. It’s a discussion worth having! Here’s to artists getting paid for their work, audiences being dazzled, amazing art being created, and businesses thriving and growing in a sustainable and responsible way. Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a mojito with my name on it! Love and pull-ups, Laura


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Annabel Carberry: Hula Hoops + Red Wine = Hilarity

It’s Monday – who’s in need of a little levity? This is Annabel Carberry, and I completely fell in love with her after seeing this act. Not only is she a talented hula hoop artist, but girlfriend is wicked funny! Have a look and happy Monday, ya’ll! Love and pull-ups, Laura



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