Tag Archives: performance 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.

Advertisements

Artistry – Ego tripping

I somehow believe that the way to become a good artist is going through the dark forest of artistic crysis. I also consider this as a positive thing, because this way you question your own work constantly, you look into the mirror and inspect. There is always place for improvement. I met lots of other artists on my way, most of them have left some great impressions and taught me something good, yet some others only taught me the way how never ever to be or behave. In this category fell the company I decided to end my collaboration with in 2013, and yet I learned the most about how to lead a company well, while seeing the flaws of this one. The examples however might come from other real  life situations I have been involved in.

Ego tripping?

I don’t even know if this is a proper term in English to start with, but if not let just start using it, as we do in Hungary. We obviously know that people having the urge to stand in front of an audience have some ego tripping going on, shall we say, they are mostly narcissistic and self-centered, otherwise they would not seek the spotlight and the attention of others. Yet this can be perceived in many ways. Self-consciousness is a great help for the artist just as much as body awareness, yet on the other hand attention-seeking, or better say attention-whoring, or self-contentness are quite big setbacks on the way forward. I like to believe that we create some kind of an energy on stage that we share with the audience. I even believe that we create this same energy just training, too.

Are you the ¨best¨?

You can never believe you know the best.

Because? There is no such a thing as “a” best. No best as a single artist either, a best way to do something. I, for one hand consider myself a new-circus artist, this implies, that for me nothing “old-school” will just make it. So if your music is Harem and your act is all about the technicals, most likely I won’t even watch further than one min.

On the other hand my circus sister is seriously in love with the classic overtly technical things, so the best for her might be the most cliché for me and the best for me might just be plain freakish for her or too mixed with other genres of performance art, because she is a purist. It is all about tastes.

The story here actually, is about this dude, that though all his friends and himself were the absolute bests, yet he treated new people with a hidious disrespect and everyone who were the friends of others. So hey, this dude from “insert city” that is just the best, yadda yadda, I learned how to throw 3 balls from him. (Feel the importance?) This girl, the best silks, hoop, trapeze etc., and even if it is true it just doesn’t make it right to simply ignore others that are not his friends yet, or rather will never be, as his ignorance will get into the way. Right, here’s this other dude, once again, amazing, worked with soleil (in this context would be the equivolent of pretty fucking great), you don’t know about him yet. Well instead stucking your head in the sand, that is of ignoring and pretending that only the people you discover and make friends with can be good, do your background check and just say, “oh, I didn’t know him, but wow his work is impressive, happy to get to know him” or such.

Other story, stripperworld, man, strippers just love to believe they are the goddamn bests. So you were big 10 years ago, because they knew you in 5 stripjoints? Great. What do you do now? Believe that you are still the best and screaming the producers or directors head down, because you believe the other girl is just not as good as you and she should get less money as you do? Professional…

Training methods?

Well, here it goes even broader, because for everybody a different training works well, let along lifestyle and diet and even beliefs.

Acrobat, contorsionist or WTF?

Calling yourself an acrobat without anything to show for or a contorsionist without having your ass on the floor doing a split, just doesn´t make it for me. Also contorsionists are in my view the highest on the rank, so I get extra offended from statements like that.

I loved this recent situation, I was doing a job outside my general field of work, dressed to the neck (so my circus tattoos were all hidden), so I find myself in this conversation, after seeing this girl trying to do something acrobaty with everything and trying to hang herself on anything: ¨I was a competitive gymnast all my childhood, it was my life…¨ ¨Oh wow, it must be hard to be an acrobat, you must rehearsal and train a lot, how many hours do you train daily?¨ ¨None¨ I just smiled under my moustache… So I believe any of us breaking our bones 4+ hours daily in the circus know the meaning of this statement…

On the other end of the situation, I´m still a little shy to call myself a circus artist or acrobat (that especially, because my floor skills are still below 0). So for once, I attended my new guests as an airbnb host and they asked me what I did, so I dropped it, and guess what? Two of the boys were the acrobats of Limbo, absolutely amazing acrobats, I got pretty blushed and admitted that I wish to be that good one day. 🙂

I was a great circus artist all my life, but got injured…

Really you got injured and lost the flexibilty in your back and legs at the same time and the skill level as well?? And the basic way of carrying yourself as well? I just can`t believe all of that at the same time, sorry. Yup, I am a snob, but I can spot a professional, and I appreciate honesty and hate liars. Having started circus at a late age is no shame, I only have 5 years of it, and instead of trying to mask my shortcomings in fairytales, I´m happy to tell how hard or not, how much I sucked and how much effort or fun it all is or was.

Success?

Earning money and having jobs makes a good business person not a good artist, in fact some of the most amazing artist are a mess with business and absolutely bad artists make a hell of a career in the spotlight.

Why lying to yourself?

As time goes by memories are prettier, for some, for others, memories just straight up change entirely. Story. Dubai, the magical Dubai. I heard these marvellous stories about these dream 5+ star jobs, where they were the stars of the night. He could get me a superstar job anytime, just a phone call away. Well, that phone call never happened, as you bet. It came to my attention that he has never even been close to a stage in Dubai ever, just the general rip off juggler/clown work we keep stumbling upon all the time in a mall. There is no problem with taking these jobs, but why lie? I had great and shit jobs, I keep having them, we all do, no shame.

Why exagerrate?

So she is the most smashing aerial artist on the planet, that have worked for Cirque du Soleil and she does aerial silks on 40 meters, right? (40 meters is a 10 storey building, just sayin’)

Umh, vampires, thiefs and copycats?

These are people seeking to steal skills and ideas, or using other artists’ talents to get further. I’m not sure if I get to explain this well, though. I don’t believe skills can really be stolen, if you learn them they become yours, and even if you deny teaching them to someone, they will find someone who won’t. Therefor I never minded teaching my little knowledge with the few interested and thank God, the people I happened to ask, with considerably higher skills, either. Yet there are some very crooked minded ways to suck your skills out of you. One is promoting things with you, while actually aiming to sell another person.

Copycats, never ending story in the burlesque end of my world. Thank God, I was not involved in any situation as of lately, but at the beginning I was pretty bummed to recognize my own moves in the routine of another performer  and the very same idea I offered for a show, that decided not to hire me, but to ¨use¨ the offered idea of mine. Well, such is life. I recommend anyone to do the same I did, I was furious back then, boiling over it, but a friend just told me to ignore, so I did, I`m a lot happier, it was a waste of time, people like that will always be around.

Alpha females?

The alpha females with a lack of emotional intelligence and overflow of jealousy. These are the very dangerous ones, while men fight for their place in a straight up way (hypothetically), these crooked-minded sweethearts sleep their way into many places, regardless their talent or skill level, that is they might be pretty good ones on stage.
Shit people, ok I understand why, but I still wonder why people with amazing skills choose this easy path of getting further. Then comes manipulation and jealousy, calling names etc. Whore me down, but can you actually show a man around who you haven’t had a something with? Because as for me I only had a beer with some friends and the next day I was openly attacked on my own facebook page by this someone, who a day before pretended being my friend.

Attention-whoring?

If you are an amazing performer, acrobat, etc. Do you really need to call the attention in 15 year-old stupid bitch look at me I’m kissing my girlfriend kinda way?? There are times for everything, call me a snob, but I call fun times once work has ended and that still doesn’t include me going down on my best friend on top of the bar after 3 shot. These behaviours just take away a lot of credit in my view.

Backstage manners?

Same here. I get completely bummed in the burlesque world how mega divas some of the girls are. I mean, I rig, I need time and space to warm up and stretch before every show, I need a calm moment to reflect as I can even kill myself any day on that thing I hang myself on. I try to do the rigging fast, and the rest as well as I can. I have no time to chat around before my show, neither can I sip champagne, but I do my best to not molest and not being a pain in the ass. Then you see these girls screaming with the technician about the lights and being full blown divas backstage and spending more than an hour placing a damn table on the stage. And then you ask. What the fuck is wrong with them? or me? I think we need to proove something on stage, nowhere else and no other time.

With it all, inside and outside, affiliated or not to artistry. The real inspiring amazing talented people I have the luck to know, are humble, friendly, they never judge and they honestly help, even if they truly are one of the bestest of their field.

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.

My way to becoming an artist – beginnings

So I started figure skating, I could not explain what was that I loved about it, but I surely thought the world would fall into pieces if I had to quit. After 5 years of devotion and hard work it was me, who decided to end it all. I left the sport so disappointed and feeling so betrayed that I did not return to put on my skates for over 7 years after my last competition. This experience also prevented me from getting involved with other sports. I was 13, I did not return to sports until I was 21.

I thought the cause of my depression was the age, but now I know that it was the lack of physical activity. My body was trained to be used, not only used, it was trained to be pushed to its limits. So when I stopped doing this I just got swallowed into this swamp of emptiness.

Obviously this was not that dramatic, I did great in school (as far as a very bright, but very rebellious artsy girl can) and I became a self taught dressmaker and very genuine punk sweetheart, which for me, rather than anything else means being true to myself. Oh, and after leaving terrible small town high school, where I was claimed stupid and deemed a failure it was discovered that I was a language genius.

Let’s fast forward to age 18. Figure skating did me very good, I had some kick ass muscles even 5 years after I quit.

One month after my birthday I started working in a strip joint, not a sport, but I had a hell of a muscle ache after the first day, so I gotta say those stilletos do the trick. Meanwhile I figured out I wanted to stretch. That has a funny story. While figure skating I was not stretched much as I was not amongst the lucky and talented ones, I guess the coach just considered us the filling behind and top couple, so nothing really happened that you personally did not push yourself into. I started from the point from I could only wave hello to my toes from the distance. Why did I start? I met my future (now past) husband, one morning he decided to stretch. I was outraged, I could not handle that a man was to be more flexible than I was! Even if it was nothing unexpected, regarding my inflexibility. So I started to stretch, just by myself, no methods, no classes. Me on the rug just for myself and my pride.

Age 20. Spain, another strip joint. Strippers, well no!!! And no!!! Pole dancing showgirls. Moves I could not even comprehend. I felt like a little girl in a funfair, actually I still do watching fellow performers. I’ve been training for 6 years now, but I still stop and stare mesmerized when others do their entire choreography rehearsals in any of the circus training spaces. I was surely warned to not talk to that “Romanian whore” that had a fame of beating up Hungarian girls, well, I went straight over to her and asked, and contrary to the beliefs of the other girlies, she did not beat me up or anything, she was sweet, helpful and showed me how to do my first move on the pole. From there it was all looking out for videos trying to learn the moves by ourselves. (This was a time when climbing the pole upside down was to be considered almost impossible) That same summer I ended up working in Ibiza in the legendary Blue Rose… (another story)

Somehow over the years I started to nurse an idea of going to a circus school, I have no explanation, again… I had no idea of it all. I have hardly ever been in a circus, my mom was so terrified of it, she hardly took us.

I mean, if I knew how hard it was to be, if I think about how hard it really is, I still have no explanation how I get up in the morning and go and do it, but it makes me very, but very happy.

I believe I somehow knew it would help me to improve my pole work, at this point I already knew I wanted to be one of the best, that surely never happened and won’t, but I am pretty content, because I have pushed my limits a lot further than I ever would have thought.

image