So You Want to be a Professional Aerialist...
HAVE YOU GOT WHAT IT TAKES?
Engaged in a specified activity as one's main paid occupation rather than as an amateur.
It seems everybody thinks they can just run away to the circus these days. Well sure, you can run there. But will you survive? And will you succeed?
In the current world of instant gratification, most people seem to believe they can become a professional overnight.
Well, sorry to be the bearer of bad news... But for 99.9% of us, you can't.
Now, this is not meant to dishearten you or shatter your circus dreams. This is just my take from a realists point of view. And in reality the truth hurts... But then so does circus. 😉
So, I'm just going to come straight out and say it, not everybody has what it takes to be a professional aerialist. Regardless of how much time, money or effort is put into it. And quite frankly, having been a professional for almost 50% of my life and working damn hard to get there, I find it insulting that so many people think it's just so easy to become one.
So here's some of the nitty gritty from my experience. As a professional aerialist of 15 years, and an aerial agent, trainer and mentor of 6 years.
The High's: (pardon the pun)
I've travelled the world... For free!
Performing has taken me to over 15 countries and all over Australia.
Not only is it all expenses paid, I also get paid quite a pretty penny for it. And this is just one perk to being a pro performer.
Injuries... Lots of them! But, as the old saying goes "The show must go on!" And so it does... Injured or not, we perform. Majority of us carry at least one ongoing injury through every show, but as "professionals" we never allow our audience to witness our pain.
Do I advise this? No.
But when performing is your livelihood and only source of income, you're left with little choice most times but to perform over the pain.
Because let's face it, the audience doesn't care, they just want to be entertained!
The Cashola: 💰💰
When it's good it's real good... When it's bad, you go hungry (or move back in with your parents?!).
Surviving purely on your performance income is no easy feat! Particularly if like me, your focus is corporate one off gigs, not ongoing contracts.
And if it is long term contracts you're chasing then be warned, even as an esteemed Cirque du Soleil performer, once you leave the show there is generally zero recognition (or cash!) left for you in the real world.
Prior to opening Aerial Artistry®, I always had a 2nd (3rd and sometimes 4th!) income, aside from performing. And you'll find that the majority of performers do.
Fat | Skinny | Ugly | Tall | Short | Muscular | Dark | White | Weird | Old | etc
I've copped a shit tonne of criticism in my years, as has every other professional performer (not exclusively circus artists!).
What did I do? I grew my shoulders larger than the criticism, and learnt to deal with it and get over it! You're never going to be everybody's cup of aerial tea.
But I'll tell you now, if you can't deal with rejection, you will never make it in the pro aerial world.
So, how do you become a professional?
Well... It's certainly not achieved by doing some fast tracked "pro" course, where they want nothing other than your money.
At the end you might receive a bogus certificate, that will get you absolutely no where in the professional world. And then you're kicked to the curb, to make way for the next "pro" course to commence.
Find yourself a reputable, honest trainer and/or studio who has your best intentions in mind, get clear on your goals and train your butt off!
Becoming a professional performer takes years of hard work, dedication, blood, sweat and tears. But if you've got what it takes, and you're willing to do what it takes, you too can hold the glorious title of "professional aerialist" against your name.
Because hard work beats talent, when talent doesn't work hard.
Early 2007, I was still finding my wings even though I had been performing for around 6 years already. One thing was for sure even back then; I knew what I wanted and I knew I had to fight hard to get it.
Follow me to stay up to date with all my aerial antics! @rony_aerial_artistry