This is assuming you’ve already got a skill toy of course. You’ve been playing for days, weeks, months, maybe years. Someone may have given you money for a couple shows, but nothing intense, just for friends. But now you want to make some money, real money. Sexy cash.
1. Anyway, the first question you have to ask yourself is, “Do I really want to perform under someone else’s terms?” That is not to say you’re selling your soul. Integrity is key for doing this professionally, because without it, you cannot hope to garner any sort of respect. But, as with any profession, you are going to be hired by someone, and asked to perform for them, not just for yourself. That may mean certain costumes, certain songs, and of course specific times and locations. When I look back at many previous shows, there is always some feelings that this was more fun back when it was simpler. I could do what I wanted when I wanted to. But when you think about it, you don’t have to give that sense of freedom up. Every client you will work for is hiring you. Not just any fire performer, but you. So don’t leave yourself at the door, invite your personality and spirit onstage with you. It will make every show better for yourself and all those lovely, open-mouthed spectators in front of you.
2. Once you’ve decided that you’re ready to jump into the sea of professional performers, make sure that you’re skills are at the same level as your ambitions. Nobody want to cringe as they watch a performer repeatedly struggle with whatever it is they’re doing. While they may empathize with your situation, you can bet they won’t want to hire you again. Whatever it is that you do, make sure that you can get through at least 3/4 of your burn time, or song, without falling all over yourself. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing a different trick every 2 seconds. Even a Poi spinner with the most basic skills can wow a crowd with their particular dance style.
3. Which brings us to style. I may not be an expert on this, but I’ve seen it enough to know that style is key. And the main reason, is that the audience is more than likely ignorant to your particular set of skills. They don’t necessarily care what sorts of Hybrid/CAP combinations you may be capable of. Your style is what will set you apart. A great example of the melding together of style and skill is Yuta. He’s a Japanese Poi spinner, with tons of skill. But what makes him one of the best in the world is his style. He’s got Pazzaz! Hoopers especially need to understand that style is key. Which is why a sexy hooper will be hired over an awesome poi spinner 8 times out of 10 (*not an actual statistic, but probably true). So work it!
4. Practice. Find songs you love and practice with them. Feel the Rhythm. Move your body! Do everything you can to mix the skills you’ve got with your personality. And find songs that match your personality. It’s always super awkward when you’re up spinning, and the DJ is playing the most god-awful song you’ve ever heard. Are you a fast spinner? A slow spinner? Whatever you may be, figure it out. This is just the very first steps to becoming a professional, but there are intricacies to every aspect of this that you will figure out on your own. And while some of these things seem super obvious, the aspect of style in performance is woefully overlooked in the moment, though we all know logically that it is important.
-Sean-Photo: Christian Kadluba under Creative Commons