Just like athletes or actors, circus performers warm up before a performance. While a warm up may not prevent injury as many think, it can be helpful to refresh the skill set and frame of mind before one steps out on stage.
Having said that, is it a good idea to run your routine in full before your show, should you touch base with the skills or should you do something completely different?
When on a 4 month contract (all the performances were in the same venue), I charted the number of technical mistakes (drops, being behind on cues etc.). For two weeks I did my act on stage before the show, for 2 weeks I did some of the skills in the act before hand, for 2 weeks I warmed up with something completely different and for 2 weeks I did no warm up.
I found despite the warm up method there was negligible difference on my technical performance on stage. It’s hard to be objective as to how well the act was performed but I do feel that the two weeks where I did no warm up were a little harder for me in terms of performing and connecting with the audience. Therefore personally speaking there is little difference in the out come of warming method but it is preferable to do some kind of warm up.
From a phycological point of view I prefer to warm up with a little of the skills I use on stage and then move onto something completely different. For instance in my act I don’t juggle balls so I like warming up with a few short runs of 5 balls, maybe 30-60 seconds. This is enough to relax me, make me think about my posture and enjoy the pattern. I don’t do anything hard as I want to keep drops out of my head and keep my confidence levels up.
I know some artists who like to run their routine in full, others like to run their routine in revers while some like doing each trick 10 times clean. For me this is too much but if it works for you then great. One thing to consider when devising your own warm up methods is where are you going to do this warm up at your gig? I can do mine in a dressing room or in a corridor, anywhere really. It’s worth coming up with a warm up that can fit into a stairwell or other relatively small places that you find backstage as few venues have good warm up facilities.
One specific thing I would recommend is balancing an object on your face, doesn’t mater if you’re a juggler, acrobat, aerialists, actor, dancer or snake charmer. Once learnt, it takes up no room and is very reliable. With in 15 seconds you become still, focused, increased spacial awareness and reminded of your posture.
I would recommend coming up with your warm up plan and then test it out a few times. Get up early, go into your warm up and then do your full routine. If it worked out then great, if not, you either need to change your warm up or make your routine easier.
This is all fairly personal but through planing and testing you can come up with a warm up that will give you the best chances of nailing your perfect show.