The timeless allure of the stage has drawn creatives for millennia. With the relatively recent proliferation of aerial arts, many hopefuls wonder about how to get their foot in the door and start dazzling audiences from above.
You may have seen a live aerial performance, a YouTube video, or a film that got you totally excited and inspired. Many know before they ever take their first lesson that they want to perform in this unique, daring craft!
When you’re just starting out, your aerial community can help you a lot. Try practicing tricks and sequences at your local school. This is a great way to see how it feels to do aerial choreography in front of a crowd, even if the crowd is made of your classmates. If you ask nicely, they will probably have a lot of great feedback for you.
I got my start in NYC in the early 2000s. Initially, I studied low-flying trapeze and Skinner Releasing Technique. But when I saw a live aerial silks performance produced by our studio, I became wonderfully obsessed. I had never seen anything like it.
Life transplanted me to the opposite coast. In Seattle, I began intensive training at a local circus school. I worked diligently on the silks and created my first routine. After I’d been perfecting my moves for a while, a community member approached me and invited me to perform at a local arts festival. The rest...is, you know, history.
For me and so many others, getting started in aerial performance was a matter of being in the right place at the right time with the right preparation and training. Very often, getting your foot in the door happens when someone is holding it open for you.
DO hone your craft and become the best showperson you can be. Create an act and practice, practice, practice, until the work is in your muscle memory.
DO attend aerial classes or be otherwise affiliated with an aerial community. Find out if there’s a student showcase coming up. These events are often held at the school or another venue, and give new performers a chance to show off.
DO learn as much as you possibly can about rigging and safety.
DO get even more involved with the community and get a feel for what the scene is like. Is there a local style like cabaret or nightclub? How can you set yourself apart within your niche?
DO attend auditions and step out of your comfort zone. Troupes and companies of all sizes are interested in seeing fresh talent. Make sure to be prepared!
DO go to other peoples’ shows of all kinds and cheer them on. Get educated about dance, cirque, and theatre.
DO make sure your rigging is safe and secure for your performance.
DON’T necessarily expect to be paid for your first few performances.
DON’T be surprised by a host of emotions that may be unfamiliar. Adrenaline and endorphins will keep you coming back!
Performance is a thrill like no other, and working in the aerial world adds another layer of intrigue. Safety is your number one concern. Bring your best game to the stage, and remember to enjoy each minute!
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