July 30, 2012

Looking for a job?

There's always room for stagehands with "The Greatest Show on Earth" - who could pass that up?

That's what I learned, among other things, when I embedded with Ringling's Fully Charged Tour for a weekend. Hung out backstage with the elephants, clowns, jugglers, and my dear friend who is managing this bunch right now.

So, they never have enough stagehands (in a cast and crew of 300 people!) and if by chance, you know, just saying, you ever wanted to run away with the circus ... there's always a job for you.

To be frank, I'm sure one has to start at the bottom of the stagehand ladder, which means picking up a shovel. Entry level means shoveling up poop, and all kinds - ponies, tigers, elephants, and hopefully very little from the clowns.

Oh, Miss Ice Charades, that was gross.

Yes, that was just a joke. The clowns that I met, a mix of Americans, Russians, a few Canadians and random other nationalities were all very sweet.

And, they promise they won't throw you off the train! Really, they were all the nicest bunch of folks.

Some other things I learned ....

*Don't stand between two elephants to get your picture taken while wearing a dress. Those elephant trunks can get frisky!

*Learn to kill time on the train as you travel from one city to the next at a top speed of 25 MPH. Yes, the next time you go on a road trip, stay at 25 MPH for five or ten seconds and feel their pain. It takes days to get anywhere.

*Most of that 300+ cast and crew (and the animals) travel by train. They have there own compartments - that make cruise ship rooms look spacious - 7 feet by 17 feet is one of the "family" sized compartments.

*The circus still is about family. The Fully Charged tour had its own school and nursery for the offspring of performers and crew. I didn't ask about the curriculum, but I bet juggling is in there somewhere.

*This was truly an international cast, here's a rundown: dancers are from Brazil (they're cheaper that way), the animal trainer - Chile, juggling groups from Russia, Czech Republic, Argentina, highwire act - Morocco, acrobatic acts - Mexico, China, Russia, aerial acts - Russia, Uzbekistan, Argentina, clowns - lots of Americans, but other nationalities too.

That's just a sampling ... I bet the backstage gets pretty lively during World Cup matches (or now during the Summer Olympics).

Stay tuned for the next post with more about the show!

July 24, 2012

Who's Who in the Audience?

After thinking how nerve-racking it would be to audition, not only in front of the big-wigs like Judy Thomas, Karen Kresge and Sylvia Froescher for the ProSkaters Live Auditions, but anyone else that wanted to dial-in, I wanted to explain that audience members are not all alike.

Judges of any kind can be scary and intimidating, so it is crucial to perform your best for an audition.

But after the audition, the performance, night after night in some cases, is crucial too.

The worst critics in your audience are (after bypassing total, random strangers) in ascending order are:

Mothers and close family members
These are the people you want to skate well for, but let's face it, your mother has seen or knows about your three or four clean run-throughs that preceded the knuckle-biting bomb of a performance you just did. They will still love you and believe in you, and watch more practices until you get it right.

Significant Others/More-Than-Date-Potential People
These folks have many of the same characteristics as the first group mentioned (e.g. seeing the clean run-throughs or sitting around for the practices afterward) but they are not related by blood, and may not understand how scary it is to perform. Still, they will usually be kinder and more informed than ...

Important Teachers/Professors/Neighbors/Bosses etc. Not in a Performance-Related Field
This is someone you want to impress with your skating chops, perhaps to explain why you needed the early morning shift off from waiting tables, and will know little to nothing about skating. So it will be harder for them to be sympathetic to your less-than stellar performance like friends or family. Plus, they won't understand that falling on a double-lutz or triple-loop is somehow more commendable than only attempting three separate double-toe loops and throwing in a second, time-filling, unnecessary spiral to save energy.

But you know who will know this ... and they are the scariest critics in the audience.

Fellow Figure Skaters
Let's face it, they may not be rooting for you to sail through your program error free. In fact, they might be hoping you fall to therefore, make them a better skater. Kind of like, for every action there's a reaction.

And, they know a double-lutz or triple-loop is much harder than a double-toe loop, but if you fall on it, they know you haven't mastered the jump yet and your program defaults to the hardest jump that you did.

For example, the female principal who performed less-than well in Holiday On Ice's Speed, had style and grace galore. Truly star quality. But she fell down SPLAT! on her double-axel (yes there is a difference in how you fall in ice shows ... and I'll have to write a post on that someday) leaving only a double-toe loop for her credentials. That wouldn't get her into the chorus of a cruise ship show, let alone a principal.

But mistakes can happen. Sometimes the bigger shows would fine you for such mistakes, leaving the incentive not to do it again.

I don't know how her other performances have gone since, but I've challenged her ability and just proved the point that skaters (former skaters too) can be the harshest critics in any audience.

July 22, 2012

Live Auditions Today

Sorry for the late notice on this, but if you want to watch auditions for the ProSkaters Seminar, here you go ...

Here's the promo on YouTube to get you primed for the event!

July 6, 2012

In the meantime ...

I'm still on vacation. I won't be back until next week, but I have plenty to blog about when I do.

Oh, and the Circus was awesome!

So, in the meantime, I saw this on Andrew Sullivan's blog, The Dish, and thought it was so cool.


Rather than the standard pitchside advertising hoarding or square-inch advert in the match programme, Brazilian Serie B side Vitoria have conjured up an ingenious way of promoting the club’s blood donation campaign.

Nicknamed the ‘Red and Blacks’, there’s no prizes for guessing what colours Vitoria usually play in. However, ahead of the new season, the club have ‘drained’ the red hoops from their home strip in a bid to raise awareness and get their fans to donate blood for transfusions and the like.

The red hoops on the home shirt will then be replaced one-by-one as the level of blood donated rises, until the shirt is eventually restored to it’s former glory when the target is met. As we said, ingenious…