Tag Archives: cabaret

The taste of success

“El éxito no tiene sabor ni olor y cuando te acostumbras es como si no existiera.”

The Past

At the very beginning I had the luck to kickstart my aerial and burlesque career at the LBF in 2009. I achieved a whole lot more of a praise that my skills were to take me to.

I was very successful for a “beginner”

Until 2012 I could really not enjoy or live any of the success. It was a struggle of survival, until I could make it all work by the end of 2012.

2013-14 were years of progress and work and some failed dreams and friendships.

Conclusion is, that at an early stage you don’t even realize what you have.

Fast forward to now

For the first year of my son’s life I was planning to do an average 1-2 shows a month, and as a matter of fact I succeeded in that…

Yet I consider this last year a very hard one professionally…

When I got pregnant I had to cancel 3 months of work and events 5 months from the date, I can say I was on top of my game, working a lot and becoming a considerably “OK” (strong upper mid-level if you please) aerialist…

I did expect it to be physically hard to get back, but I did not expect it to be so professionally miserable.

I explain.

I’m terrible at selling myself, I am full of doubts, I cannot watch a video of myself without rolling my eyes and I cannot finish a show without at least once saying how SHIT I was.

I also did want to switch scene and focus on bigger shows instead of gigs and burlesque related productions.

And obviously, I did not expect the burlesque scene going to shit on the meanwhile either.

Visibility on festivals

There comes a time in your life, when doing burlesque festivals for less than free just don’t make it… but let us be honest… I said to myself, let’s try other festivals (not Lbf, which was a safe application process always), than you get the ‘oh thank you, but…’ message…

You, established, good performer… being explained how Kittiey Mc Tittishaker (lets hope nobody owns this name yet), a two year VETERAN of the scene, entrepreneouer daredevil extraordinaire with a hiper original signature classical tribute act has a bigger ‘IT’ factor when it comes to performing… classic burlesque…

So according to facebook and the scenario, I keep being the backstreet circus chick of the show… you know the one other performers are not eager to take selfies with… yet the one to mostly finish off the show as the “strong plate”…

It felt quite unsuccessful, all this.

In reality… with the one show a month I make more money than I did with various years before…

By chance or by luck I landed doing the Barcelona Burlesque Festival, which happens to be a paid thing and goes by invitation… (and I hope they keep it that way)

By conclusion I landed a half year contract with the theater.

This is the real success.

It was hard work, performing, pulling my acts back together, even making them better. Million email, proactivity, and all.

Does it feel like bathing in champagne already?

It is great, yet I only dare to whisper it…

I am the resident aerial artist of El Molino theater…

Feels like it just disappears the moment you say it.

Now, I did not substitute someone on a gig, I did not do a couple of parties or the Festival, noo! Im there and to stay.

Yet, does the burlesque scene cares?

I tell you what, if I feather up my bio and explain it… maybe… but in reality, no shit.

And this is how success feels in the “scene”.

Even if you make it, you need to fake it.

In the city?

It is a great reference, everybody knows it, I have a two page spread photo of myself.

In reality?

I see my osteopath almost every two weeks.
I juggle a baby, a household and my sleep deprivation.
I lost 10 kgs, since baby. (I do have some killer abs, though)

Altogether, I think I am at the right track.

The Struggle

I am a very booring person.

My topics: art, my struggle with art, baby, training.(or the lack of time for it)

I am also tiring with it, constantly analyzing, writing, thinking.

Alltogether it folds out to be some kind of a never ending struggle with the limits of my body and time.

I will never be the best aerialist of the world, in fact being the best in anything is getting impossible by the day.

So at this point I want to calm myself and set out reachable goals and stop eating my soul out with unreachable expectations.

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Award winning and critically acclaimed!

image

I would like to start my post with this quote from this great man. (thanks facebook)

This post has been festering in me for quite a while. I am one horrible critic, and I do not spare myself either of it, also I am way too harsh in my expressions.

Award winning

Award winning is something more of a tangible thing, yet critically acclaimed is harder to grasp.

Award winning suppose an actual award to exist and suppose that the person actually won that award, prize, title, etc.

Obviously in London/Britain each and every performer has won some kind of an award, even being a part time performer not to mention bad performers, yet on the mainland we performers hardly ever get an award, even if we maintain ourselves by our art.

Then you can go and make shit up… distort information and such.

In my home country we have a lady, that a couple of years ago decided that pole dancing, stripping, aerials, and whatnot belonged to her personally. So she made Tv appearances and claimed to be a world champion stripper… Well, great, but there is no such title as is!
Obviously people in the burlesque scene would refer to the Burlesque hall of Fame and the Miss Exotic world title, but she never even competed there, so nope. Then in “stripping” (as of butt naked, or more sexual stripping – no shame, just specifying) there is a million and one competitions, with a lot less art involved.
Anyways this fair lady won a Miss Nude Canada and returned home as a world champion stripper… you see the contradiction here. (Later on she surfaced in a far away burlesque festival as well, you know just because…)

So what is this all about? Marketing! Shameless marketing…

But, at least she makes a damn good linving out of it! She is a major celebrity and even has quite some contacts and shows internationally…

So, I get it!

Yet, I cannot understand people who does this without any apparent benefit… being “famous” with nothing… getting attention, only… that is quite a trainwreck attitude… (at least for any of us trying to make a living here…)

Anyways, turning back from general shittalking about others to the point in the burlesque industry…

Award winning…. all new awards and titles and competitions popping up and guess what?

Bumm! It goes mostly to the very same people, who already had some…

So either you are a newcomer and may win something in that category or straight up forget about it, if you do not already own a couple of well polished awards up your award shelf.

Critically Acclaimed

By whom?

We all know about the marvellously written press releases, right?

I mean, you know, written by your best friend or a payed writer to put the best quotable line out there about you…

Then, let us be honest with ourselves, there is no negative criticism our so beloved community, it just cannot exist… Even when we express negative opinions we wrap it in pink so carefully, making sure we don’t burn up the bridges behind us and don’t loose precious contacts in the scene…

Nobody wants to be the troublemaker

Also the faux-positivity surfaces, as you are the badguy, when God forbids you name the person who ripped an act of yours off, because say something nice or don’t say anything at all…

You see a shit act, and nobody dares to say it out loud, you see a rip-off act and hardly nobody dares to say it out loud, yet everyone thinks the same.

All the critical good words I have out there are from LBF, and are mostly blogs…

Why?

Because, who the fuck cares about the chick from the other end of Europe, while we can review the well-known, friend of many friends local performer?

So the conclusion is that while there is not a panel of official critics that do need to review everything they actually see, and by what they actually see, this is also just another dead end street in burlescalandia.

What is success?

We jump back to the basic fact, that life is on social media. Nowhere else, but…

Or really?

Performance art is live art, and sure we can tape it, but it will never ever be the same, as it is live. In my view it looses somewhat 80% of it’s poise and energy. Therefore it is very hard to convert or to translate it into social media terms.

And here comes the tricky part, how social media gets to distort the skills a performer might have.

Well, in the world of circus, skills rule the scene, and that is hard to fake, even a photo is showing a whole lot to another professional, so evaluation is easier, there is less playing around. Surely there are differences between the success of same skill level artist with different talents in the artistic side or plain marketing.

But with burlesque, it is just insane what have been going down in the last 7 years! (read my post on the burlesque top 50… from over a year ago, yet just NOW, bigger names start to pick the topic, carefully wrapped in pink schiffon, of course, because saying it is all bollock would be too harsh…)

To answer the question.

For me, success is being able to be a full time performer, earn over 80-90% of your income from performing. Preferably performing, what and where you actually like.

Then again it is not all. Now, I absolutely can see the benefits of stepping back from full timing in order to better as an artist.

The Voliére experience – The job of an artistic director – vol. 3.

The job of an artistic director

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artistic_director

There you have it, what it should be or could be.

So who was she, our “artistic director”?

Let’s be politically correct and skip my personal opinion on her personality.
(+*&^%$@@4?/®÷×_<{± and so on, as you guess)

It was her big chance of making something now, something to show for before retireting and trying to have a baby…
(These ladies that think a baby can make up for their unfulfilled lives *sigh*)

Stating the obvious, she has hardly seen a theater or variety inside, not even as an audience member, least as an artist.

She promised a picture perfect broadway show with cirque du soleil class circus in it to an equally ignorant owner (he owns whorehouses otherwise)

She had no idea what her job was and she failed it every corner of the way.

She was spiced up with all imaginable insecurities, numbed back down with weed and alcohol.

On rehearsals she was more occupied of trying to show off with the pole or on the hoop (she never hold one before) than doing her actual job.

Her way of treating people was plain abuse downwards (which should never be, not even with an animal) and mad ass-kissing and pretending upwards, also showing off with other people's merits.

Let’s see the job closer

From what I saw from the past, rather than qualifications, you need a sense, talent and taste, but most of all hard work to do this job.

In burlesque the artistic directors I mostly work with are also performers, and performers of the same genre. Outside of their genre, they let themselves guided by the ones who areprofessionals, that is, they understands the needs of a burlesque artist, while they carefully consult over rigging with an aerialist or safety with a fire performer, etc.

Running order

They do not put a show together just sucking the running order out of their fingers.

People need to change, warm up and cool down, drink a sip.

In the case of most burlesque shows and variety style shows, the individual numbers are linked together with a compere, there is not necessarily a written plot.

If the show is theatrical play like, there might be plot or a storyline built up.

In both cases, if you work with a limited amount of performers, that have reoccuring roles on stage, you need to plan the timing according to the needs of changes (for example: character or costume) to be made during the plot.

Other consideration should be variety (in the strict sense of the word), so not put two numbers of the same or similar style after each other.

Well, here we were supposed to leave the stage to change costumes (thigths and gloves included) and get back on in 20 sec, just having finished our aerial duo. We obviously could not make it…oh, did you ask? No, we did not have people helping us dress.

Was she a director?

No, not by profession, either by talent.

Was she a coreographer?

Same negative answer, I think my grandmother would have been more effective teaching a coreography than her. She was constantly yelling, instead of counting we got “plass plass and bumm”s. Correcting and recorrecting the same thing back again. Not being able to show the same move twice same way either, but yelling if we didn’t get it right.

Was she a dancer?

There is a difference between having skills to dance and selling that you have skills to dance, in the second option you might also lack the actual skill or only have some.

I need to admit, I had her raised on a piedestal in the past, but memories tricked me, I saw her now and there was nothing of that divinity. Not because she lost it, but rather because it has never been there. She was trash, she was insecure, she was eager to proove she could, but she could not.

She was a graceful stripper, great pole dancer as of 2006 (when pulling an aysha was OMG!) Once she did rythmic gymnastics. Fact.

My glasses of the wannabe stripper fell, and I could see the reality.

Big dreams
(Too big)

She dreamed big. She visioned a broadway show cirque du soleil crossover.

She dreamed aerials, aerial hoop, aerial silks, trapeze, spinning pole, aerial hammock… All high quality, spiced with motorised movements and flights… On a height of 4.5 meters and 5 m wide stage… (For the less circusy reader, that would leave you with hoop and pole, as other disciplines need more height, if we talk quality)

She dreamed a weekly change of theme of 4 different themes. Namely cabaret, flamenco, circus, futurist.
Cabaret, because she saw Cabaret, Victor Victoria and Chicago once.
Flamenco, because it was a tourists’ must, not her choice.
Circus, because we were circus artists, but she had no idea of this theme.
Futurist, because she saw Step up wichever, with the glowing ballet dancers and the coming out of the wall body paintings.
As you can see, all original, all new ideas on a brand new take, innovation up your ass…

She dreamed a team whose superhero powers doesn’t require days off to rest. Neither regular hidration, nor proper food.

She dreamed two, two hours each of shows a night.

All this paying a casual gogo dancer’s salary to the acrobats a day. 120 euros, underline! (and slap me in the face if I ever consider this sum acceptable ever for aerials…)

She dreamed wild success and a job offer in the 3 upcoming months from El Molino Barcelona or such.

She also dreamed that for all this she just had to sit back and light her pot acommpanied by a daiquiry.

She made everyone else do all the aspects of her supposed job. That mostly me, at the beginning then after that our coreographer.

Costumes

Generally the last rehearsals should go with costumes, any fucking where, (except for a burlesque show, where performers already had that about a 1000 times, one would suppose…)

The costumes arrived, like 2 days before premier or less.

She asked us to provide our own dance-skin type tights, white and black tight with all matching black and white garder belts, black and white, black frilly underwear for “mein herr”, big holed fishnet thigh high black stockings, plain black fishnets, etc.

All this being told during the last week of rehearsals, with no free time and no shops selling these items in the nearby.

Surely, a “real professional” should have all this already.

I was to have most of it, providing two frilly undergarments even, but still, white fucking garder belts? White over the knee tights? Last minute?
Obviously a single pair does not work, because to begin with we were 3-4 girls needing each item at a time, so that would go by buying 8 pairs.

Bcn is cheap, but fishnets go around 3-5 euros, frilly underwear 6-8 euros, tights 3-10 euros, garder belts 5-10 euros all depending if you get lucky to buy it in your corrner chinese store, because buying in a higher end store means having to spend 3x more.

So you start the work with min. 30-50 euros loss in material you might never ever use again (fishnets in burlesque is quite a generally accepted nono)

The made costumes were not matching anyone, since noone ever asked for our measurements.

Some were unusable, like our “By-bye blackbird” coreography jackets. These were jackets bought at any sale store, with a badly sewn in velcro in the back. Taking a proper 1.5 size down. So whenever we opened our arms the jacket opened wide open on our backs. No time to fix anything, no sewing machine, either anyone to do it. (At this time I was still hand sewing and fixing what I could, until the directorrissima thought, that instead of thanking me, telling me to shut up and stop critizing our very professional “costumier” was something suitable, so I stopped.)

Shoes

In the middle of dance school show season, we were sent to try shoes the weekend before. Well, no shop had the matching 5 pairs of black dance shoes already, including 3 pairs of 36 and one of 41 size, which was the hardest to find, and did not happen.
Best moment was calling the directorissima and passing her on the phone to the shopkeeper lady, she requested giving us the shoes without paying and that in two days the boss would come and pay for them, on the basis of youknowwhoIam, which they had no idea of.

Technicals

Motor. Failing. All. The. Time.

The so called motor was life threatening to us. Hitting the floor was a constant threat. Start and stop had more movement and shake than the length of the actual rope involved.

Professional aerial arts motors are somewhat costy, so they got cheap industrial ones. These get jammed, are not licensed to hang people from them. (In Spain nobody gives a damn)

Million and one cheaper solutions, pulley? Or fixed rigging?

Oh, did I mention that the structure to begin with either was quite made for this.

We ended up having 3 stage managers including the her, but still no stage courtain got to open and close when needed, no motor working when needed, and we were requested to collect our clothing ourselves. Glamurous that is.

Lady, and others with a smoke in their mouth on that 4 m2 behing the stage and between the dressing room, that had a single curtain to protect itself.

4 circus artists, no actual m2 to stretch, or warm up. Sure, we solved this too.

And after each and every show she came on stage with us to take her bow and collect the applauses of a puzzled mini audience, who wondered who the hell was her…