So maybe you've been hooping for a few years or maybe you've already done a couple of gigs that someone else hired you for, and now you're wondering, what do I really need in order to apply for gigs? I discussed a few of the following points in my Marketing Yourself As a Performer video on YouTube, but I thought I'd go into a little more detail with this blog post and touch on a some other items.
The Right Props
If you want to become a hoop or flow arts performer, it's important to have professional looking props. This doesn't necessarily mean you need to drop thousands of dollars on smart hoops, but you do need to have an LED hoop that you feel comfortable using. This means that if you're still using your 36" LED Mood Hoop but now you mainly flow with a 28" day hoop, it's probably a good time to invest in downsizing your LED hoop or getting a new one. Although most hoop performers use smart hoops, that isn't always the case! When I first started performing with my hoop, along with my friend Bella (@gogobellahoopz), we both had plain white LED hoops. Each time I did a gig, I put aside some of the money I made, and I sold another single-pattern LED hoop I had, in order to purchase my first smart hoop, which was my Hyperion Hoop. If you already have an LED hoop in a size you like, than great!
Some gigs might want you to have a themed costume and some might have a costume provided for you. However, it's always a good idea to own some of the basics. This is something I also touched on in a previous post about accessories every performer should own and my video, Top 5 Hoop & Gogo Performer Necessities. In your performance wardrobe, you should typically have a black bodysuit or other all-black performance outfit. Another good outfit I believe all performers should have is something in a shiny white or silver. Both of these are fairly easy to find, go with a lot of themes and make it easy to match with other performers, even if your outfits aren't the exact same style. You should also have nude and black fishnet stockings, nude and black strapless bras, black thigh high socks and black boots or booties, preferably with a small heel. I also like to have nude and black no-show socks to put under my fishnets so my toes don't go through the holes. Listed below are a few of my personal favorite products and shops for costume pieces.
Bodysuits: Spinztress, Galaxy Kitty Apparel
Thongs: The Gap
Socks: Calvin Klein
A Performance Resume
So if you're just starting out in the industry, you might feel like you don't have anything to make a resume about. However, just because you want to focus on hoop performing, doesn't mean that needs to be the only thing on your resume. If you have any past performance experience, including gogo dancing, high school theater, a college talent show, etc, you should put it on your resume! Remember, as you gain more experience, you can always choose to remove less-relevant work from your resume at a later time. You can also include any business or assistant experience you have, as this can be quite useful to troupe managers who may appreciate having some sort of assistant to help them out. It's also important to include any training or teaching you've done pertaining to circus or flow arts, if you don't have any, look into taking a hoop workshop or an online class. I teach online classes myself, so if that's something you are interested in, feel free to contact me!
A Demo Reel and Promo Video
A lot of people don't know the difference between the two, so let me go ahead and explain. A demo reel is a video comprised of several clips of you either performing, or showing what skills you have to offer. Here is a link to my most recent demo reel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EX_XHuAaPN4
A promo video is a more professionally shot and edited video. Here is a recent one of mine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kV2rwFrbpN8
Typically when I apply for a gig, unless a specific audition video is asked for, I will send links to both my demo reel and my promo video. A promo video looks more professional, but a demo reel can help to better show your potential client or manager what to expect from you on stage.
Even if you don't have any plans to model, it's a great idea to set up a photo-shoot. A lot of applications will ask for photos, so it's a good to have some photos of you in costume with your props on hand. Even if you can't set up a professional shoot, you can always get a friend with a camera, or even a cell phone, to take some photos of you. Be sure to use natural light if you aren't using a studio, and show off your personality!
A Website and Portfolio
As you can imagine, having your own website looks very professional. A website can show a lot more useful information to your potential client or manager than social media pages typically can. In most cases, you don't need a website and can just send a link to your Instagram, YouTube and maybe a Facebook fan page. But also having a well-organized website can set you apart from others and make people think you are more professional, even if you're still just starting out. It's also a good idea to include a portfolio on your website, with photos of you at gigs or other photos of yourself that you like.
Remember, just because you don't have everything on this list yet, doesn't mean you shouldn't bother applying for gigs! Some troupes, like my own (Celestial Flow Tribe) are more than willing to work with beginners and help them build their resume and improve their skills. Festivals are also a great place to start, although they don't typically pay their performers, so that may be something to keep in mind. Just remember to put yourself out there, using social media to post videos and contact troupe and event promoters, or even by street performing, just keep in mind that different cities have different laws about busking, so be sure to check out those so you don't end up getting in trouble. Getting into performing can be difficult and at times you may want to give up, but don't! You never know what kind of opportunity could be waiting around the corner if you just keep putting yourself out there and remain open for opportunities to find you. Good luck!