Tag Archives: circus arts

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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Dressmaking

This might be shameless self promotion or just a couple of thougths thrown together about my long awaited new project.

Aerial costume making

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As a self taught dressmaker (and pretty much self taught anything else) I started to sew aerial costumes around 2010 for my own acts. Before that I’ve seen too many crappy, not-well done and also overpriced pieces of costume, mostly in the stripper world, but also in the circus scene, here the not well done, poorly designed costumes.

Here’s a great read about circus costumes, says it all.

http://www.laurawitwer.com/2011/10/06/cirque-costumes-not-to-be-confused-with-your-underwear/

I remember seeing my friend’s new costumes by a well recognised Bcn costume maker from the strippy circuits, that costed her each 200-300 euros plus, with zigzag stitches all over the place, but to such extent, that I wondered how a “professional” can charge for that, while your mother does a better job on a broken pedal singer from the 50’s. And my friend after spending this money trying to fix these leotards that just didn’t seem to fit anywhere. (I mean a lycra onesie, not a metalic corset…)

I also remember fixing messes right before stage time for friends during pole shows.

So since my first pieces were heavily complimented and also borrowed for photo sessions, and proved to be durable, against the fact that I really can’t be bothered to do my dresses on a professional level, although I can. I figured that at some point I should think about selling costumes.

Throwbacks

Circa 2007-2008. I accepted some proposals from strippers to make costumes.

Summing it up:

NEVER WORK FOR STRIPPERS.

Rude, pushy, pain in the ass bitches trying to convince how another costumist just did a whole nicer, bigger, better piece for a sum of money, that would not even cover the textile… Did I mention, that they are never content with the results either?

That.

I commited my errors and learned, so althought I am well capable to create or copy a design upon request, I decided not to. It is a comfort zone thing. I shall leave moving out of mine for high flying aerial work, not for dressmaking.

Now to share my titbits and methods.

Insight

I always loved lace, lingerie, burlesque, pasties and semi-transparence. I always disliked lycra.

Lycra gives that figure skater / rythmic gymnastic feel.

I am damn great in decoration, pearling and also embroidery.

So, my main designs go with the materials I love.

Pearling I might leave for special requests as if I was to charge by the working hour nobody would pay the due price.

I figured out pretty soon after making my first piece that lace itself is just not thick enough to prevent burnings on the silk, but as we know, I dislike lycra, so I was looking for another fabric to back my lace material up and save myself from burns.

The one best working for me is elastic tull, it’s solf and added as an under layer to the lace also has a more skin like texture. (with the advantage of not making you sweat like a pig on a hot summer gig – like lycra would)

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Since I had to start with a home sewing machine, I figured out ways to make my stitches more stretchy instead of going for the general zigzag (blahhh, zigzag is like the signature of unprofessional), the one zigzag I use is the triple zigzag stitch, that you can generally see on lingerie, hence my liking of using it over lace endings.

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Now I own an industrial overlock… (which was considered garbage, before I took an afternoon to clean it), my good old (17 years with momma) brother home sewing machine and a cover stitch machine under renovation.

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Let me not lie. I am not good with straight lines, I have over 17 years using sewing machines and I still fuck it up. So I avoid them and as I don’t want to sew corsetry I guess I can get away with this.

What can you expect from my produce?

Durability.

Even my shittily sewn ones are keeping up with the shows.

Strength.

So they won’t fall into a million pieces during your first rehearsal. Mostly double secured endings and a lot more hidden rubberband that you can imagine so ends don’t get wobbly and wavy after two washes, and hopefully won’t cause a tit blink out ruining an outstanding contorsion move in 10 meters high.

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Detailed work.

(my costume making dream come true would be a fully pearled bodysuit…. payed by the hour of course)

Nice insides and ending.

Nope, you won’t see zigzag, where overlock should go, no way.

Call me overpriced, but I won’t underprice never no more.

I will still be figuring my way with the cover stitch machine, but I realized since my other methods worked I could throw myself in the market.

Here’s the link:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/Honeycupflywear

Xxx

The Voliére experience – enough is enough – vol. 1

This is a long and covering every single dirty detail post, so if you don’t want to read drama this is not your post.

Since it gets way too long, I decided to make it into various posts.

Here you can find the facebook page of what it was, I could not find the webpage any longer:

https://m.facebook.com/pages/Volière-Restaurant-Cabaret/759956577371556

Web was: voliere.es

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Introduction and basic conclusions

The project was the following, a dinner show at a beach resort in Spain. Sounds fairly simple, right?

The following was my personal performer horror story, the worst ever experience of my entire career.

I was approached around February at first by a girl, who back in the stripper days was my flatmate, my boss, my muse, my worst critic and basically without me ever knowing my worst enemy. I did keep my enemies the closest back then, that is for sure. I intentionally lost all contact with her over 2008 and 2009, where as a culmination she ended up threatening me for not finishing a costume she never payed me for, among other pieces of costumes she never payed me for. And another momentum in our relationship was her histeria, when I got the same fee for a performance as she did on a festival. ( because I, amongst all the performers deserved less money, she thought)
From 2012, however, we started approaching, she got me a contract (for her share of money, not for the love of the art, obviously) and from there in 2013-2014 we saw each other twice on a faux friendly term.

Conclusion: never make up with your enemies.

In 2014 February, she turned somewhat suspiciously nice, and surely for a reason. She wanted me in a project. Now I was an established artist in her eyes, which I found hard to believe.

Conclusion no. 2.: there are some people that just cannot accept you no matter what you do, what you achieve, how much you work your ass off or crave their approval, yes, it might be your mother, your father, your best friend, a coreographer, another artist, etc.

The proposal was: a beach resort dinner show for three months. 120 euros a day for 3 aerial numbers.

Breathe in and keep calm!

I straigh on told her that to begin with I would not climb on an aerial hoop for less than 150 euros, and 3 solos are just excessive, if not a joke for this money… Well, she is a good talker, between ” ay, carino”s and funky giggles, she explained, that this would be 2-3 min appearances on stage, impacting, rather than a full 5 min aerial hoop act 3 times at the highest of my skills. So I gave it a thought, that I should have not. Dinner and housing in a luxury villa.

Conclusion no. 3: never give second and least third or fourth chaces to people that fucked you over big time in the past. Bad producers and managers won’t change!! They do not!! They just hire the next idiot to exploit once you left, and believe me, there are plenty of idiots.

In two months I was in, with the sidenote, that if another contract come I wouldn’t be. In fact, I was to earn over 3000 euros at a beach resort 2 hours drive from my home with a signed contract, insured and all. At this point my fear was that she would just cancel last minute, but no way, future was once again way more trickier than this. Peace of mind was going to see the massive preparations on the location.

I am stupidly naiv and not money oriented. Sad fact. This girl had hardly any contacts with the professional circus or dance circuits (that hardly any, already turned her down, and for a reason) All I wanted, on the meanwhile, was getting my beloved, starving, or not so starving Bcn circus family a good opportunity.

So what did I do?

Stupidly enough, ended up doing her job, finding the entire crew.

Note, there is a big difference between recommending another act and handpicking a cast of 6 people. Never do the latter unless you are getting payed for.

The saddest conclusion, no. 4: do not help out your friends, if they are jobless loosers, believe me, there is a reason to it, still making them perfectly capable to stab you right in the back.

So as the start date approached the conditions were fastly changing.
We were already talking about two weeks of unpaid rehearsals with only meals and housing provided. In fact our directorissima only wanted a week of rehearsals (cuz she can fart a broadway show right on stage in a split second), but we all thought it would not be enough. She refused having them in Barcelona, where each and every body resided except for her and we could have easily had a dance studio even for free.

Somehow we were all of a sudden talking about two solos and duo for us, acrobats of 6 min length.

Oh and dances?… Five group coreographies broadway / crazy horse style. No mirrors, no autocorrect, no proper ways of rehearsals.

Either we were told that we were not to have a day off. In 3 months time.

All fragments of information tossed to us over various vague whatsapp messages. Rather messages about what color our costumes should be and how was our solos, than anything else. Girly giggly bullshit.

Conclusions no. 5-7.: whatsapp is not acceptable form of business communication. period.

Never get into shady business proposals, the minute a serious condition changes in a shady ‘oh, but I did told you, don’t you remember?’ way, just walk, and know, that nope you were not told.

Don’t let yourself be manipulated and bevare the infamous ‘but we are professionals’ tagline. It only serves to corner the weaker minded.

Our contracts and social securities were nowhere to be found, “en tramite” as of, always next week.

Conclusion no.8.: If in doubt get a signed contract or pre contract. You can write it yourself, if needed. Do it!

More to come…
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The price of an act

Pricing always gives me a hard time, I rather prefer being already offered a fixed price from  a show. Yet, nowadays, we are not that lucky, or if so, the prices offered are generally miserable.

You, one standing in the public, just see the finished product, a flawless body flying high up in the air with an incredible ease, or an amazing femme fatale burning down the roof with sexiness and attitude, or whichever else type of performance of choice you might be seeing executed close to perfection from your, once again the public’s point of view.

Then one naivly asks the question, how much do you get for this?
And then comes the conclusion, ‘wow you must be dirty rich’
Well, here I would like to reference you to some well written pieces by other dear performers, that are most definately worth a read.

Here, on the other hand.

I mainly want to write about counting out a price to offer, when asked for.

So. I put a set of questions up to answer to help us to draw the final offer.

Where do you live?

Your actual location is quite crucial. Also where you are from. In my case, I’m from an eastern european country, but live in a western one. (Let’s not get lost in the geographical truthfulness of this, I speak economically)
So for me this adds another dilemma, as what I generally get for one show is an entire monthly wage in my dear country, while in Bcn takes about 1/4 of a salary. The dilemma rises from my belief that I should not say no to an offer that could give me food for an entire month on home grounds, therefore saying no is luxury.

Actual location.

The difference between rushing down two metro stops and finshing the entire night in less then 4 hours, make-up included is pretty much priceless to having to be away two entire days, waiting at airports and bus stations, not always getting proper food (in my case, never getting it, since you airports don’t have any overpriced paleo snack points)
This means I take a low budget show in the city, but damn sure won’t travel more than 30 min for it.

Places differ in general prices, too. On one hand in places like Switzerland you can expect about the triple of your best price, on the other hand though, London is notoriously pays quite badly. (Burlesque)

Which are the general prices in your field?

Now that is a tricky one.

My field? Burlesque or circus?

Burlesque

I would put the general price of an international burlesque performer around 250-300 euros, this might include 3 different numbers performed.

Circus

Anything goes here. From fees hardly covering one’s survival. Here to be able to charge a constant high price the act has to be very high quality and one needs to be pretty skilled.
So, embarrassing, it is, to see that years of sweat, blood and pain is less appreciated than something that might be masterable in months. (Although, obviously, high quality burlesque performing requires a lot more than that, because perfection lies withis the smallest details).

What amount are you happy to work for?

I, personally, don’t mind a last minute 100-150 euro gig, from there up I’m pretty content withing the city limits. Internationally start over 300 euros. (Obviously all expenses paid)

This might depends on who you work for as well. I used to perform in a lovely jazz restaurant during my early circus times, 100 was the most they could pay, yet they offered two nights in a row, every time they hired. I love jazz music, I loved the ambient, I knew this was the maximum they could give me, so I was more than happy with it. Two times, low ceiling aerial hoop burlesque, which served me great as a practice.

Nevertheless if you deal with a huge place with high drink and entrance prices, you would not be happy not even with the double. Example. Ibiza. Offer. 3 aerial performances of silks and hoop, hoop being taken up to 6 meters without any security measure. 150 euros. One night in a week. I said no, yet, there were others, many, that have taken the offer.
Oh, and add, they, after seeing videos of me, needed to see me live, so the “casting” happened during opening hours, nice way to cover the night with free performances,right? Also you come and go, feed and live as you please, obvious, isn’t it? Mostly I loved the fact that the person offering me this even tried to blackmail me saying that I would not get any work on the island without taking this.
So, for big discos or parties I would charge over 300 euros at the least for aerials.

Also, a no skill gogo dancer gets 80-120, even in Ibiza…

Frequency?

Is it a one off gig? Is it a contract? Is it a longer contract? Are you working for or with these people many times?
I generally appreciate people that return to work with me, so if they are returning employers I am more willing to adjust my prices.

Contracts?

Over 1500 euros clean a month I’m happy. Plus the priceless security of not having stomach ache thinking about what tomorrow brings. (Oh, the dilemma of the full time performance artist with a mortgage)

1500 euros clean, what is that?

That is with full board and accomodation plus travel expenses.

1500 would mark the bottom end with few shows, to state the obvious. For a 6-7 shows a week deal 3000 euros plus would be rather suitable. (Sure, best would be 4-5000, plus a mansion in the countriside with a personal massage therapist, but…)

Generally I count out my price according to the amount of shows I have to do during a week and math out the price of a single number, ideal would be keeping it up over 150 euros per one number and never going below 75.

Well, big, famous theater, self titled superstar sums down to 25 per number, that is fucking fellow performers in the ass without any doubt. So this leads down to the next question.

Ethics?

We live in a dirty, unethical world, where one would stab his own mother in the back for 5 euros. Truth.

Meanwhile everybody wants to be rich and famous, means don’t matter.

I personallyappreciate ethics and loyalty.

Do you know the market you are offering a price?

Private or corporate gig, small or big scene. Etc.
Corporate pays very well, yet private can also do that and the contrary both. Same with smaller and bigger scenes.

Little story.

Once a Hungarian friend asked me how much would I charge for a small performance for him/friends for a small party (no technical difficulties). I said a 100 euros. His conclusion was that it was cheap, as if 4 or 5 puts its together it is quite cheap per person. So there, now tell me why places actually making money with your performance don’t want to pay this very minimal price?

I believe the venues should start with appreciating their artists before offering rip off prices and believing, that circus artists were just born that way, so no need to pay them more than a general gogo.

So, now you can all call me a cheap bitch, but I though it was best to drop the numbers in the discussion, because I personally hate googling the price of something and finding everything, but that.

There are a million more related topics that are coming to my mind related to prices, so to be continued.

On the way of circus training – part 2 – outlook on my mistakes

After a very intense first year of training and desastrous detour of a marriage that lasted almost 3 years, travelling around Europe, facing my enourmous fear of height, work, life, day to day survival as a full time artist I decided to return to training as I was doing during the first year.
I never stopped training, don’t get me wrong, but I was rather scattered with it.
In 2009 I did for sure 7 months straight in a little private school, where I kept returning until we moved back to Budapest in may 2010 and there it got all messed up.

Schools or acro gyms are good, they give you discipline and also the right track to achieve your goals, yet they are pretty costy, I spent about 300-400 euros a month on classes during my best months. So very obviously if you are not well off this is not an option. Private lessons are also quite expensive and the people worth learning from are not quite advertising it.

After this I pretty much made lots of mistakes on the way until I found my way.

1. Training too comfortably

Yes, after a good beginning I fell for this mistake. Not moving out of my comfort zone of training. Doing the amount of abs that was comfy, neglecting chin-ups or push-ups as I disliked them, etc.

So, are you sweating? Cuz if not you are not doing anything. What is more you better reach the point where you end up without breath, to not put shitting yourself.
No muscle ache? Also wrong, you should have, a lot at least at the beginning.
Same for stretching,  cuz, no I was not born this way, I am not genetically stretchy, not double jointed, I worked my ass off, just as anyone else with an impressive oversplit.

2. Training vs. Rehearsal

The second mistake, I made this one, when I started silks in 2010, well, we know silks are already hard, any ways, so I never thought it can be not enough. I started only rehearsing and slowly, but surely I was getting weaker.

3. Not asking for help

If you don’t know how, ask, the worst that can happen is that you get an answer. Even more, a personal trainer or an older professional can help a lot. I was pretty shy on this front.

4. Neglecting one skill for the other

Even if you are preparing for a particular show, just take a little time to at least pass through coreographies of your other disciplines.

5. Not taping myself

This. This is the most important. I heard that some of the very best aerial artists tape every single training. And, when after a year of diligent silk training I saw the result I wanted to cry. Over the year I took up a series of just horrid habits and moves, like kicking the silk around in the air. I wished I had taped myself before, because I could gave avoided all.

6. Rehearse in show height

Well, I guess this only applies to me, but especially on hoop, I’m afraid up high. I will write more about this later.