Quixotic Fusion: Dancing with light

I’ve been interested in the use of technology in circus for some time. The performance of Quixotic Fusion at TED merges dance and elements of aerial work to produce some interesting results.

To be honest the over all performance is not to my taste but it’s great to see companies succeeding in the tricky business of blending technology with live performance.

Video of the Week – Philippe Petit: The journey across the high wire

There was a time when the Twin Towers tight wire walk was an insider circus story, forgotten by New York and the rest of the world. Then Man on a Wire was released and the world listened, Petit back in fashion.

In this video Petit condenses his solo show to a 18min Ted talk.

*Warning* the juggling is a little painful….

Circus and Celebrity

After reading ‘Who Was Philip Asteley?‘ by Nell Stroud (co-founder of Giffords Circus) I got thinking about the lack of modern day circus celebrities.

Why are there no circus celebrities?

I think it’s important to define what I mean by ‘circus celebrity’. I mean an individual widely known throughout society who becomes and stays famous because of their circus work.

Astley's Amphitheatre in London circa 1808.
Astley's Amphitheatre in London. Image via Wikipedia

In the past when circus was one of, if not the primary form of entertainment there were many minor circus celebrities and a few superstars such as Philip Astley and Jules Léotard.

Older members of the public might know the name of some past famous clowns but it’s unlikely they will know the names of any trapeze artists or acrobats. But artists from other circus disciplines have made it to the top of the bill and become household names in the past. It may surprise some of you to know that there have been few juggling celebrities equivalent to the David Beckhams of the world today. Both Enrico Rastelli and Paul Cinquevalli enjoyed fame and fortune, with sell out shows and even product endorsements.

As circus lost it’s status as the number one entertainment destination house hold circus names went in decline. Cinema and then TV created starts of their own that were better suited to their medium. The best way to become famous in the past was to appear on TV or in a film, if the guys in charge wen’t interested in you then your were out of luck.

But now we have the internet.

We all have access to our own publishing company and film studio. Society is diversifying. Individuals are forming their own tribes of like-minded people, no longer held back by geographic constraints.  Within these communities artists and experts appear and become ‘micro-celebrities’. These tribes are linked by individuals who belong to more than one tribe and share an aspect of one tribe to another. Often these connecting individuals will share their favorite artist or expert, turning a micro-celebrity into a ‘hyperlink star’.

I think it’s a matter of time till a circus performer/entrepreneur becomes famous, someone will be at the right place, at the right time, have the right attitude, image and work. And it could be good for all of us. Someone able to interest society at large in circus would mean more ticket sales and more competition, resulting in a better standard of work.

It’s what Philip Astley, P.T. Barnum and Guy Laliberté did. Only when they did it they could rely on interruption marketing. Shouting on a street corner and hoping people would stop. But now everyone is shouting. So you have to create your own tribe and rely on connectors sharing  your art on Facebook, Twitter and the rest. Build your fan base and let your fans build you. But people will only share your work if it is remarkable.

So make remarkable work that others can share, become famous and then share your success. Simple.

(Sorry if you were looking for an article about celebrity circus, fortunately you’ve missed reading about that for at least another click!)

Story telling

Occasionally I hear circus artists/directors/random people who feel their opinion is important talk about ‘how to make circus more than just an act’, about how we can use circus to ‘tell stories’. As Mr. Wilson has so eliquentley commented on this before I’m inclined not to comment as I would be just wasting keystrokes.

However if you must layer on a storyline do it well. This video could help you do that:

Attitudes

Below is one of my favourite TED Talks.

 I think circus is slowly starting to get the idea and power of the Internet, slowly changing its attitude. 

Juggling has been on the net with a global community for many years now, it was far ahead of other circus disciplines in its embrace of the ‘WWW’. I suspect that is partly due to the personalities involved and the relative ease to describe tricks in photos, words and numbers (the close and now obvious link with Maths and Juggling) as opposed to the more difficult to descride acrobatic/physical circus disciplines.

But the rest of circus is catching up, there are now straps artists sharing moves, routines and ideas online with a global community. 6 years ago that didn’t happen. 

The more people investing time and passion in a given subject means the more the subject grows and develops. Not just in terms of technique but also artistic approach. But this only happens if artists are willing to show their work to the world. Share their new knowledge and let others help develop it. it’s a scary thing to do. It leaves you feeling exposed and vulnerable. But gives you and others a chance to grow.

Technology is changing the world as we breath, it’s making sharing stupidly easy. And that’s a great thing.

 

Technology Tips for Circus Artists – 10

This is the tenth post in a series where I set out to give tips on using technology to make your hours behind your desk that bit easier.

Tip Number Ten: GetMoreCorporateGigs.com

Get More (Corporate) Gigs

Circus has always had strong links with marketing, if you don’t promote your show/act/you well enough then you don’t eat. One of the greatest marketeers of all time  P. T. Barnum, was a circus proprietor who mastered the art of how to grab attention, create a buzz and sell a show.

I understand why so many circus artists shy away or despise ‘selling themselves’. To do it well you do need to be brave, go out on a limb and invest time and energy. If you really have no interest in marketing then get someone else to do it for you. But understanding the basic concepts behind marketing is important to any artists whether you plan on creating the next Cirque Du Soleil or not.

This is why I’m recommending you sign up for the free trial of GMCG, it gives you some great starting points and some basic principals. The course is delivered by Barry Friedman, a real expert in this field.

The name may be familiar to some of you as Barry has been performing half of the legendary double act, The Raspini brothers for over twenty years. Without a doubt one of the most original, funny and financially successful juggling acts around. So well respected in their field they were asked to give their own TED talk (now a personal goal of mine).

So when I found out about Barry’s online marketing course it was a no brainer to join up.

I loved doing the online course, learnt so much about my own approach to marketing, work and life. I’ve improved my business and continue to read and occasionally post in the forum which provides excellent feedback and support to your efforts in a really positive community of performers. Every week I revisit one of the lessons and see how I can make improvements on my work.

I would recommend GMCG to anyone who has the drive to make their business better. It does centre around the US corporate sector but the underlying lessons can be applied to any market your interested in; from writing proposals for funding to selling your shows to theatres.

I know the full course is not going to be everyones cup of tea but you can get a taster with the free 7 day training course. Even the information from this freebie could transform your marketing approach and I’m sure some of you will see the benefits in signing up to the full course.

Sign up for your free 7-day training course here.

Oh and incase you’re wondering, I’m not on commission or anything like that, it’s just a service I think is really useful.

If you do sign up let me know your thoughts!

http://www.getmorecorporategigs.com/

I’ve always been interested in business and marketing but since doing the course I’ve become more passionate about these subjects. I want to learn more about selling shows and building websites, so perhaps drop me an e-mail if you have an interesting project you think I could help with.

http://twitter.com/#!/CircusGeeks/status/68270412898910208

Technology Tips for Circus Artists – 4

The fourth instalment to the series which aims to make your hours behind your desk that bit easier. This tip should keep you inspired.

Tip Number Four: Watch TED talks.

TEDI became aware of TED talks in 2007 and ever since I’ve been hooked.

TED is a non profit organisation set up to spread interesting ideas. Originally focusing on Technology Education Design (TED), but now encompassing a vast range of subjects, everything from horse puppetry to the future of wireless medicine.

You can read more about TED here.

I think it’s worth stopping for a second and taking note of the amazing value of the internet. We are now lucky enough to able to watch and listen to some of the most knowledgeable experts from around the globe talk about their most cutting edge and exciting work and ideas, all from and comfort of our own home, for free. It’s an example of the internet at it’s greatest.

Some of the TED talks have entertained me, informed me, challenged my opinion, inspired me and even moved me to tears. The best have all at once.

My challenge to you is to watch a TED video a week. It will make you a better artist and more importantly, a better human.

Here are a couple to start you on your way…

If you you find any inspiring TED talks be sure to share them with us, particularly if they are circus related! As ever, if you have any suggestions please leave a comment below.