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Fire and Fury (And Fabric)


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A couple weekends back, we were in Oakland, California performing at The Crucible for the venues annual ‘Fire and Light’ Soiree.

This performance was different then most as we literally performed our duo silks act surrounded by a ring of fire!


The Crucible has produced a number of events with fire (by day it is an industrial arts school with beginner to advanced classes in blacksmithing, welding, woodworking, jewelry, glass blowing, ceramics, and more) and came complete with ‘fire safety’ experts who trained and prepared us thoroughly before the performance.

There were some less-then-perfect moments in rehearsal that were a little dicey and the flames felt slightly too close for comfort (they were actually more then six feet away from us so there was very little chance of actually touching them!) but once we worked out a few kinks and wobbles on our part the performance went off without a hitch!

Watch a video of our performance here

Now you might be thinking; “That’s cool and all but I doubt I will ever be performing aerial surrounded by a ring of fire (nor do I particularly want too!)”

Perhaps, but there is a good chance that you have or will be performing aerial in an unusual venue, with a loud, distracting audience or outside on a freezing cold or scorching hot day, or competing on uncomfortable silks set at an unfamiliar height.

Whether you are a beginning student or professional aerialist, live performances, be it a studio showcase, concert or gala event are likely a (wonderful!) part of your future.

Lets take a look at some of the ways you can prepare yourself for possible distractions during your next performance and help you stay safe and comfortable in the air.

1. Rehearse Your Butt Off!

We cannot stress this enough. Whether you are performing a pre-choreographed aerial act or ‘atmospheric’ aerial sets, know your material inside and out. Be so comfortable with the tricks, transitions and combinations that you will perform that you could do them in your sleep, or surrounded by a ring of fire and not be distracted!

2. Insist on a Tech/Dress Rehearsal

This can be difficult if you are performing at a nightclub or less theatrical venue but it is imperative that you:

  • Test your rig: This can usually be done earlier in the day before the event begins or in the days leading up to the event.
  • Be familiar with the lighting design: Find out where the lights are in your venue, will they be pointing straight down at you making it difficult to see your hands/apparatus/partner? Will they be flashing? Will there be fog? Lasers? Talk to stage hands/producers/lighting designers. Crew members, technicians and clients don’t always know what you might need and it is up to YOU to tell them! If you are not comfortable with something, say something! No one will think any less of you for it; in fact they will likely respect you more for understanding and expressing your needs as an aerialist.
  • Rehearse in costume: It only takes one costume malfunction (Star drop-skirt-tangle anyone?) to ensure that you never forget to run your act/set in full costume. Be sure to test drive your show hair-style also as hair down feels VERY different to a slick up do or hair piece that wants to break free or get stuck.

3. Stay Focused

The day of your performance will likely be full of excitement and anticipation, especially if you are working with friends and other like-minded artists.

This is a wonderful time and it is important to appreciate and enjoy the experience. BUT, it can also be extremely distracting. Be sure to treat the minutes/hours before your performance with reverie and respect, this is your sacred preparation time.  A full-body warm up is imperative as is visualizing your choreography and listening to your act music. Breathe deeply and stay as present as possible.

There will be plenty of time to socialize when you are done and you will have more to celebrate if you are satisfied with your performance!

Here’s to your next glorious aerial performance and the beautiful, gritty, rigorous sweaty, unseen effort that goes in to making it spectacular!

Have an amazing rest of your week!

Much love,
Brett and Rachel

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