9 Tips for a Fun Time Popping Your Performance Cherry

Posted on December 7, 2015 by

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Julian Leong captures GlitterGirl & Zihni

A friend on Facebook today contacted me looking for performance tips saying,

“It’s my first time in frot of an audience away from home… [I] have only performers for family and friends prior.”

I took a moment to really think about what I wanted to offer and thought it deserved a few more minutes than a moment, so, here the results — 9 Tips for a Fun Time Popping Your Performance Cherry!

  • Shorter is always better. I don’t care what anyone else thinks but I’ve never seen anyone go wrong with a performance that was too short. The absolute worst thing that happens is they want you back on the stage and drag you out there kicking and screaming. That’s a great opening show and one we should all be so fortunate enough to experience. And even if you think you’re going short, you probably want to go just a touch shorter than that. Why? Because you’ll most likely be running faster because of the excess adrenaline in your body and thus, you’ll go through your move set more quickly.
  • Make sure your fire lasts the full set. Another benefit of a shorter set (90 seconds to 2 minutes) is that you’re almost always guaranteed to have the fire lit for the entire duration of the act, even if it’s only eating torches because that’s a short enough set for almost any prop. Nothing screams unseasoned performer to me quite like the fire unintentionally not lasting the full set and an act droning on well past the fire. As an audience member, it always feels a little awkward because you can’t really see what’s going on in most settings and it’s sort of just empty stage time.
  • In order to keep yourself calm and dealing with the natural increase in energy caused by the excitement and adrenaline, breathe. Keep breathing. Be present and remember to take in the moment. When you start making up stories about the crowd or how well you’ll do, keep breathing. This is a great way to keep you grounded.
  • Especially if you followed piece of advice number one (have a short set), you also should prepare an encore. At the very least, have a song picked out to which you will perform a second set. Dip the tools for less time so as to have a shorter burn time for your encore, as desired.
  • Use music you think will be popular with the audience. As much as people may not like it, pop music is a good choice for this because by nature of what it is, it will have mass appeal. If you want to add more spice to it, then you can find a remixed version of the same song which gives you something old to which the crowd will relate as well as something new that keeps it interested and current. The reason to use music the audience will like is that they will be more engaged with your performance. If they know the song, they will unconsciously start nodding their head or tapping their feet which helps them go on the ride with you as a performer. It can be quite helpful if you feel yourself flailing at any point during the performance to have an audience that’s clearly into the music at least. Especially in the early days of performing when you have very little experience.
  • Do a costume check. By this I mean do a full run-through going full on with your set in the costume. I have found that it isn’t until I’m really going for it that problems arise with how the costume lays on my body and thus, anything less than a full run through may be a false sense of confidence in the costume.
  • Don’t light your fire until the music has started. Thus, if there is some issue with the sound system (like the wrong track comes on or nothing comes on) you won’t run out of fuel too soon.
  • Check the surface on which you’re spinning. Is it at sunset on black top that has been in the sun all day and you’re supposed to be barefoot? Are you sharing a stage with fire breathers whose spray may be on the performance surface? Know the situation so you can know the risks and take proper precautions.
  • Do wear fire safe attire. In fact, cover yourself up to the degree that has you not worry about your body so you can focus on being in your flow. I covered my hair for over 2 years before I was willing to spin with it uncovered.
  • Finally, it should go without saying to follow proper safety procedures but for good measure, it never hurts to be explicit.

Need some quality education? Contact GlitterGirl directly or subscribe to our newsletter for mailbox delivery of this and other articles written by Temple of Poi founder and visionary, GlitterGirl, who has been a full time flow arts coach and instructor since 2002. If you seek business training or guidance associated with creating a safe performance, obtaining a permit in San Francisco or other personalized coaching, contact GlitterGirl directly for a free consultation (GlitterGirl <that pretty little ‘at’ symbol> TempleOfPoi <daaaaaaaught> com).

Posted in: Performance