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Your First Gig as a Hooper & Performer

Higuchi Photos - CTW 2016

When I started performing as a hoop dancer and circus performer I had no idea what to expect. Starting as a beginner with no prior stage experience was intimidating. Over the years (through constant ups and downs) I've learned what to expect as soon as I walk through the door, on to the stage and from the moment I leave.

Take into consideration that every booking has it's up and downs and some things we can't avoid, but for the most part the list below includes a general expectation of both you and your client/ booking.

Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

**A gig is what we refer to as a booking or event that we are to entertain the guests of, headline as a main act and contribute our talents to.

1. Contracts

You should always have a contract, from your best friends wedding to corporate work, contracts are key! Here you can include your agreed rate for performance - , fun information about parking (I always forget about the parking), green rooms, snacks, security, etc. Seriously, I almost always forget about the parking...

Consider including a booking deposit and "paid before we play" in your contract. It's easier for everyone involved if it's on pen and paper.

Once you establish yourself in the industry and begin juggling several gigs at once, these contracts will be a great safety check - in case you've missed anything regarding the delivery and expectation of your work. It's better to be safe than sorry.

2. Fresh Snacks & Water

When you are performing a small snack and water should be provided. Everything from cheese and crackers to steak dinners. Be reasonable with your client regarding the snacks they are able to provide. Water bottles are mandatory (no matter what). Fun fact: This is also a great way to ensure your client has throughly read your contract, have you ever heard of the skittle test?

3. Green room

As a performer I can only assume that you come barreling through the door juggling props, costumes and sometimes people. We obviously need somewhere to store this stuff. It is soooooo important to discuss (prior to the event) what is available for you and your gear. The green room should be well enough that you can trust to leave your belongings there and include all the same necessities as a normal living space (chairs, table, etc). Understand your client may be doing the best they can, some green rooms are smaller than others – cramped, have bad lighting or are outdoors (summer festivals) but all in all should be comfortable for you. I once had to change in a porter potty and I was the main roving entertainment. It was awful.

4. Stage Manager/ Organizer

Upon arriving at the event you should get in touch with the person managing your performance and stage. These people are normally the person that hired you for the booking or a person hired on as a stage manager, knowing their name in advance is a big time saver. Your stage manager/ organizer should have prior knowledge of the space and what will happen throughout the event. This contact is your host and will be there to answer any questions you have or concerns throughout the event. For stage, if their job is done properly they should know cues, call time and if needed, your introduction. The organizer should be sober (I know...) and so should you. This is a job and like any other we perform much better when we are fully accountable for ourselves and our work.

5. Music

If you're playing music during your performance you should prepare for anything and everything. A good practice is having five seconds of music at the start of your track to have yourself and the sound technician ready. Your music is your responsibility and should be backed up on a USB drive, phone, computer, etc. Sound check is a great way to make sure everything is working properly. Most of the time the sound technician will know how to works their own equipment, however it has happened (more then I'd like to admit) that there isn't a sound tech or someone who knows how to handle the audio equipment – arriving ahead of schedule, communicating this in your contract, or scheduling a check in/ sound check are great ways to avoid any last minute worries. This happens most often while I am teaching at festivals, performing in gymnasiums/ schools and in foreign countries.

If you have any experiences you'd love to share below feel free. These are my personal experiences in my career and I am happy to chat more in depth about our experiences. Keep in mind that our clients, bookings and needs may differ from place to place – and in my opinion the clients I do work with do their very best to take care of us and give there all! Much like we do! Happy Hooping!

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