There’s this struggle we have as growing performance artists balancing a dream on a budget. It’s the struggle of:
“Do I go ahead and buy the costume/stilts/props/lessons and put the time in to practice them BEFORE someone calls to hire me?”
You bet your A$$ you do!
Listen, when someone calls to hire you, it is too late to figure it out.
Sure, we’ve done it- Jeremy learned stilts after he booked his first stilt gig. He also fell and cracked a rib practicing, and then had to stilt walk for 6 hours at his first gig with a cracked rib. He didn’t have the time to get proper training. I remember my family all coming together to make his first set stilt pants right before his gig. It was a stressful and painful lesson.
If I have any advice for you, as a performer with your day job, and your family wondering what the heck you are doing, and that little voice of ‘reason’ questioning whether or not this is going to work out, I say start now.
Bet on yourself! If you build it, they will come.
If you are waiting until you get booked to pull the trigger on those new LED hoops, stilts, costuming, etc, you are playing small. It’s a dangerous game business-wise. You want to have practiced for months on those stilts, taken a lesson on stilt-walking safely, had the right costuming made and tested, and gotten used to how those LED hoops spin and how long the batteries last.
If you are waiting to work on your skills/dreams/presentation/performance, you are wasting precious time!!
Bet on yourself and act in faith that you will get booked. Do you know what increases your chances of getting booked? Having photos of you on stilts, in your costume, months ahead of time. It just says “Hire Me! I’m ready!” Clients will ask for photos, and you want to have them. Send them even if they don’t ask. It’s proof that you are a professional and already have what it takes. You aren’t sweating it out for your costume to be delivered in time.
Take the steps now to grow into the performer you want to be, so you will be ready when they call. Don’t wait until they call to start working on it. Being a professional performer is scary. We are literally creating our own demand. We have to show people what we are capable of and the value we bring, not just scrap it together once we get the call. Believe in yourself and get ready now.
That being said, it’s important to be smart about your investments. I will caution over buying a bunch of things you think you will use, at the risk that you end up not using them. Sometimes buying stuff is easier than actually doing the hard work to practice your skills, so watch out for that. Get what you NEED.
I can’t even write this post without making note of the privileges we enjoy. Not only are we two people working toward the same dream, but we have parents who provide a safety net should we need it. We haven’t yet, but it’s still a privilege not afforded to most. I had a good job and saved up a lot of money before quitting, and I bought a lot of the start-up costs while still working (which I recommend). I realize not everyone can just go buy $500 stilts any time they want. That being said, if performing is what you want to do, put your energy and resources into making it happen, before you get the gig. Don’t wait for someone to hire you.
Thoughts? What were the first things you bought for performing?
Wishing you all the bravery and luck in the world!