Monday, September 12, 2016

How to tell if you’re overtraining

It takes a special kind train circus arts.  An emotional talent is demanded, an ability to continue on a path through which achieving mastery seems unlikely on most days and laughable on your worst days.  This talent will allow you to see such an environment, measure it’s volition, and walk steadfastly through it regardless of the certainty of emotional and physical struggle.  And yet, here we are.  Congratulations, for it seems you too must have this talent; this odd, at times Sisyphean, predilection for sustained effort in the absence of instant gratification.

With this talent for abuse hard work comes an adjoining talent for ignoring the body’s clues that you are in fact, pushing too hard, past the black of beneficial efforts and into the red of actual physical harm.  These clues include anything from sharp pain to dull pain to chronic exhaustion and bouts of dizziness, all things your coach might tell you to ignore.  You’re only too happy to oblige.

I’m not about to go up against your gung-ho spirit animal of a battleaxe here, so instead, I will give you some science,  and if you don’t like it then you can take it up with science.

How to tell if you're overtraining...the science way:

Step 1:  Establish a Baseline

Otherwise known as your Resting Heart Rate, or RHR for lazy people.

  1. Have an analog clock by your bedside or within sight of your bed, with a second hand.
  2. Upon waking, before even sitting up, before sipping water, look at this second hand and take your pulse.  Count your heartbeats that occur within 10 seconds.  Repeat if you desire for consistency.  
  3. Multiply that number by 6.  So if you counted 12 beats in that 10 seconds, you get 72.  Whatever this number is, is the closest you can get to your resting heart rate while being conscious.  
  4. Write this number down.

Step 2:  Collect more data

Do this every morning.  If you observe your resting heart rate increase by a significant amount over time (significant being an increase of around 7 or more beats per minute), you are probably overtraining.  Your body is not recovering sufficiently to keep up with the demands you are placing on it.  A variant of around 4 beats per minute is normal and nothing to be alarmed by, but tracking your RHR over a long period of time can give us a conveniently black and white barometer of our overall fitness.  If your RHR begins to lower, it indicates you are getting even fitter, and recovering adequately, since your heart doesn’t have to work so hard.

Before you freak out, consider that some experts recommend taking a baseline of 2-3 weeks of data before coming to any conclusions.

Step 3:  Don't freak out

So what to do if you are, indeed, overtraining?

This doesn’t mean “take it easier” in the gym, since I think we’ve established that aerialists and other circus performers don’t have a clue how to actually do that, it means having the courage to take a few days off.  Super off.  No, this doesn’t mean going for a light 10k jog, it means actually resting.  You can do it.  The only thing harder than training is not training.  It does indeed take a soldier’s discipline.

So here’s to you and here’s to me, and here’s to that rest day where you lay around eating pudding once a week.  Or's your barbeque.

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Friday, July 8, 2016

Why no one cares about your resume

...but you still have to have one.

I have witnessed this moment many times.  An artist is introducing themselves to a client/studio owner/agent, and things are going great.  The chemistry is working, the client/studio owner/agent is totally vibing with them, and hands them a card.  They say, email me your promotional materials and your resume.  Followed by a split second of awkward balking as the artist realizes they have no such thing.

Think that moment of self doubt was undetectable to them?  Think again.  If you see it in yourself, they see it too.  And it is totally, 100% avoidable, because if you had done the work ahead of time, you could shake their hand with confidence, knowing that everything you need is at home waiting on you to solidify the relationship with one simple follow up email.  

I’ve seen people shy away from applying for residencies, festivals, showcases, audition for a great gig they were TOTALLY PERFECT FOR, all because they just couldn’t face building a damn resume.

Promotional materials are important, but this post is just a deconstruction of the one thing- the resume- that seems to make the bravest among us stare at their shoes.

What makes it scary is this:
“I don’t know the correct format.”
“I don’t know what I’m supposed to put on it.”
“I want to do it right and I don’t know what order to list things.”  
These sentiments all have two things in common.  One- they are commendable.  They exist because of a desire to do something properly, because your work means something to you.  Two- they are all focused on doing things “correctly.”  And while there is certainly a wrong way, there isn’t a “correct” way.  You’re a freelance artist, remember?  You can take some liberties as long as you deliver the goods.  But what are the goods?  See above, “I don’t know what I’m supposed to put on it” rears it’s ugly head.

As a result, you do nothing; as soon as you try to find the “correct format” the internet is full of the most god-awful wretched advice I’ve ever heard, for all young professionals, and especially for developing artists.

Over the past several months I’ve been interviewing agents, owners, casting directors, and artistic directors on what they actually care about seeing in a resume specifically.  And their answers might surprise you.

Because the truth is, no one gives a flying fart about your resume.  The three best known names in contemporary stage circus are Cirque du Soleil, Les 7 Doights de la Main, and Cirque Eloize.  If you have one of these on your resume, you probably don’t need a resume, and if you do, this post is not for you.  Because resumes don’t get you jobs- relationships get you jobs.

HOWEVER- not having a resume ready can wreck your plans of looking like the professional you wish to be.  You come off as just another flaky circus wannabe who couldn’t be bothered to conduct themselves like a commodity.

If you’re worried that everything you’ve done is small beans, consider this.  The point of the resume in this instance is less about its content, and more about the fact that A) you had the foresight and professionalism to build one and have it updated and ready and B) you have actually worked before.

I’ve had students who have had way, waaaay more training than I ever did, even performed in  Broadway shows, who insisted to me that they hadn’t done enough to build an impressive resume.

Ya’ll.  Don’t make me come back there.

Once again, we are called to cease the dreadful habit of making decisions to soothe our own insecurities.  Ok so we know no one cares about your resume until the moment in which you don’t have one, so you need one.

Now, how to write the damn thing?

As I’ve said, in my research for this post I came across some of the most classically terrible advice I’ve ever seen.  It’s amazing how many “articles” online prey on emerging professionals looking for real information; be they post-graduate students, artists looking for new opportunities, or high school students looking for their first job.  Listen- these articles are largely written by poorly paid writers and are sold for SEO purposes.  I know this, because I used to be one of them.  It’s how I survived while putting myself through back-door circus school.  Does that helpful article have tons of doubly-underscored links and advertisements?  Yeah, you’re in the belly of the beast.  Get out of there and go ask someone you trust for advice.

Even if you’ve barely worked, if you are ready to work and you have a product, you can show us in the resume.  It’s well known that hardly anyone reads them more than one paragraph in, so for the love of god leave the dull bits out.  Focus on the cool shit you’ve done.

In order, you need this stuff clearly headlined, ideally on one page (as I’ve said, hardly anyone will even read the entirety of it) but more on this later.

  • Contact
  • Training
  • Experience
  • Special skills


Your name, email address, telephone number, and website.  Actors and models need their stats (that means height, weight, hair color, etc.), but specialty performers don’t necessarily need to post this.  Unless an agent is specifically asking for them, leave them out and let your other supporting materials (ie:  amazing photos) show them what you look like.


Where did you train, and with whom, and for how long?  This tells a lot.  Definitely include this.  Specialty programs?  Name em.  Festivals you trained at, intensives you completed, any certification you’ve earned.


What to list:

Keep this limited to what you truly want to represent you.  A direct quote from one of my sources:
“Tell me the big stuff.  If there is no big stuff, tell me 3 or 4 of the small stuffs.  Don't fill a page with small-time gigs.”
What’s a small time gig?  Your cousin’s wedding.  That time you performed in that bar.  That day you went with your aerial buddies to make a “show” in the park.  HOWEVER, if this is all you have done, make it sound awesome.  “Aerial fabric soloist for Private Event - Hemingway, TX 2015” sounds a lot more legit than “Wedding entertainment artist”, while being just as accurate.

Oh yeah, by the way, don’t lie.  That’s bullshit.

What order to put these in?  

In high school they tell us to list from the most recent to the oldest, which is fine, but I would suggest listing in order of perceived awesomeness.  As long as it was reasonably recent (ie: not 10 years ago) put the coolest shit first; like I said, you can expect to have their attention for about half a page.  Make sure they know to take you seriously in that half a page.  Also, include the years.  Months are debatable.  But for sure, no one gives a damn about the exact date of an event or contract.  If it’s not necessary, chop it.  We are going to readability and impact, not exhaustive detail.

Boldface any awards or special recognition you’ve had.  Include locations- nothing vouches for you quite like black and white evidence that someone, somewhere, thought highly enough of your skills to pay for you to get on a plane.  Locations look fancy, especially to Americans.  Use them.

**A note on Burning Man.**  This is a judgement call.  There are performances of an exquisite caliber at Burning Man.  There are also performances of very questionable safety standards and aesthetic merit.  What I mean is, no one cares that you performed at Burning Man.  The exception to this is applying to a Burning Man show or other like minded event.  Use your best judgement.

This could apply to lots of things!  For example, if you’re applying to Disney on Ice, maybe leave that naked hoop solo you did at Hardcore BDSM Fetish Night off the resume.  You feel me?


This is where you get to mention all the random crap you can do.  If you’re a singer, include your vocal range.  List even more specific dance or movement training, ability to bake 15 minute brownies in 13 minutes, hold your breath and pass out on demand, wiggle your ears (I’m not being sarcastic… I’m not.)  Other languages you speak?  Put em here.


Should I combine my teaching experience with my performance experience?

If you are applying for a combined role- definitely.

Some positions are a hybrid of a performance combined with teaching some workshops.  In this case it could be a big red flag if you don’t have any teaching experience.  I would recommend having two versions of your resume- one performance only, and one that blends performance and teaching beautifully, showcasing both your prowess on stage and your ability to be a dependable, high quality coach IF YOU ARE APPLYING FOR COACHING POSITIONS.

I didn’t come across anyone that only wanted to see teaching on a resume.  Your notoriety as a performer lends credence to your classes.  Why would someone want to learn from someone who has barely been on stage?

Does it need to be one page?  

Well, it certainly would make it tidier not to have multiple leaves flapping about, or perhaps you could print out a double sided version when you need a hard copy.  But (unless they’ve specifically asked for it) no one is going to throw you in the shredder for not having a one page.  Probably.

That said, never take 10 words to say what could be said in 5.  Look at your resume and ask yourself if it represents you the way you want to be represented.  Ask yourself if it looks tidy and clean.  If you didn’t know you, would it tell the Story of You that is accurate, supports your claim, and flatters all your hard work?

Still feeling lost and alone?

Never fear, I have a template, easy to download and fill in, that I made for just such an occasion- however it's only available to my mailing list- but you can totally join the dark side here and get access to it and some other goodies too:

Download, copy, bastardize, and make it better than mine!  

Thursday, June 23, 2016

How to Tape an Aerial Hoop. Probably the Only Guide You'll Need.

Yep, I said it, I meant it- I’ve retaped more lyras than you can shake a stupid stick at, and I’ve tried different methods, and only one makes me happy every time.

The Internet knows Nothing, Jon Snow. 

A brief consult with Google reveals only one piece of advice repeated over and over, which is the old “Start at 5 and tape to 12 o’clock, then repeat” method. I loathe this method because it makes the tape back-curl in the ONE PLACE that you most frequently hold the damn thing, which is at 5 and 7 o'clock. So one of your hands always gets torn up, not to mention the backs of your knees.  I've even read suggestions to tape the hoop from 3 and 9 o'clock, which is truly masochistic.

So why do people do this?

The benefit is meant to be that the bottom of the hoop, where the most action occurs, will have a double layer of tape so that if one layer gets worn away, there is another layer waiting.
“that way the tape will be smooth when your hands slide down and the bottom of the hoop will have 2 wraps where most wear occurs.”
This sentence has been copy/pasted between the dozen sites that suggest this same method. By the way one of them had an incorrect rigging example right above this soooo… I really hope ya’ll are educating yourselves via many channels, because there is so much bad advice on the internet.

Why this makes no sense:

Using this method, if a layer of tape wears away, you aren’t left with a lovely usable backup layer of tape. You are left with a gaping, glue-filled maw yawning in the surface of the tape, which as soon as you hang on it will commence taking a bite right out of your palm.

But Rachel, you might say, at least you won’t have to retape your hoop!

Again, let’s take a closer look.
If you’re using athletic tape and you wear it down enough to rip off the bottom, yes you will have to retape your hoop. Also, the rest of your hoop by that time will have absorbed months of your body oils, skin cells, chalk, and rosin and sweat, and is by now discolored in places and needs to be retaped anyway. So the choice is yours- athletic tape and a lively re-taping every several months (according to use), or cloth tape and live with the same old tape until it gets too shiny and dirty with the aforementioned buggery to give you grip anymore.
If the priority is really, truly to tape your hoop as rarely as possible, throw some money at the problem and buy cotton milled handlebar tape like Newbaums or Velox, which lasts much longer.

Either way, the back-curling of tape is evil and I hate it, so on to Life According to Rachel’s version of how to tape a lyra.

This is way simple, yo. That is why it’s so easy to mess it up.

  1. Look at the lyra like a clock, tab at the top. If it’s tabless, you will need to mark this place so that you hang the lyra in the correct orientation.
  2. Start taping at 6 o’clock, overlapping the tape by about a third of its width.
  3. Tape up to 12 o’clock
  4. Repeat on the other side.

That’s it. That’s all you need. You don’t need a double layer of tape, ever, in my estimation. If you are using athletic tape, after you’re done, cover the whole thing in a thick layer of chalk to absorb the extra glue. If you don’t do this, the lyra stays sticky for longer as your body oils, etc. fill in the gluey gaps.

4 Simple Steps to turn this:

World, meet Aurora.  This is what she looks like nekkid.

Into this:

All dressed up

What kind of tape should I use?

I’ve used many different brands of athletic tape with similar results. Mueller comes in lots of colors, and in a bind good old drugstore brand adhesive cotton tape works just fine, as long as you have access to chalk as it can be quite gooey. For nerds, the goo comes from the zinc oxide adhesive. I have not to my knowledge used a non-zinc oxide based athletic tape but would be interested in the results.

The cotton milled tape I mentioned above is sold in bicycle shops intended for handlebars, or purchased online. Velox and Newbaum’s are the two brands I’m aware of, but I’m sure there are more, and they come in over 30 colors. They are far more expensive but last much longer than athletic tape.

I’ve heard of people using hockey tape, gaffer’s tape, and painting their lyras after they tape them. My advice is to experiment with whatever materials strike your fancy and find the way that works for you.

How many rolls do I need?

Using athletic tape- you will probably need less than two rolls.
Using cotton milled tape- you will need 6-10 based on the size of your hoop. My 38” hoop took 8 rolls of Newbaum’s. 

Do I need pre-wrap?

No. But if you want to use corking or pre-wrap to cushion the lyra, don’t let anyone shame you for it. Your practice, your lyra.

Do I need tape removing spray?

Nope. That’s just something else people are trying to sell you.

When retaping the lyra, do I need to clean off the old goo before putting on new tape?


Are you really, truly certain that I don’t need a double layer of tape??

Yes, I am really truly certain.

Any other advice?

Yes.  Use a color you can live with, particularly if you are using cotton milled tape.  For example I invested in several rolls of my favorite color, emerald green.  Halfway done I looked at it and said out loud, "No.  No, no, we cannot be having this.  I am not a leprechaun."  And had to start over.  See?  

This isn't doing anyone any good.

Want to see a visual aid?

Or perhaps if you're like me and find fast motion videos to be extremely satisfying to watch, I made a dumb little video right here.  Enjoy and happy taping!

psssssst! I tell my email list stuff I don't announce anywhere else.  You can be one of em by following this link ----->
I can't promise it will save your life but, you know, it could save your life.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Rachel Quits Gogo Dancing

I was 28 years old and living in West Seattle.  It was late summer, slow season, and my reserve of funds from the holiday season were dwindling.  In true battleaxe style, I set out to rectify the situation at once, intent on finding undiscovered opportunities.  I hit Craigslist, which although is now quite creepy, at one time afforded me many wonderful jobs, including my four year residency at The Pink Door.

I found an opportunity for a casino gig, not great money but not the worst either.  And it was a simple request, dancing some choreographed gogo numbers with another girl for a cover band.  Costumes were to be provided as well as a per diem and travel.  I wrote to the gatekeeper right away including all my glitzy promotional materials, to which he responded enthusiastically and sent me his own materials.  He was a middle aged bachelor and, by all means, an accomplished musician; he had a cover band that operated out of a suburb of Seattle.  He wanted to make something spectacular and had already landed a contract at one of the many casinos that littered the desert of Eastern Washington.  I privately felt that this plan carried a whiff of desperation but hey, I wasn’t there to judge.  I just wanted the job.
Time management wasn’t one of his strong suits.  As a musician, he also was not in the know about what kind of rehearsal it took to create 2 hours worth of choreographed movement (this is something that has taken me 6 months to accomplish before).  Time passed, nothing was scheduled, he was always too busy.  Then he came by to see me one night at the Pink Door.  We were scheduled to leave for the casino in one week.
After my set, we are sitting at the bar when he asks how the choreography is coming.  I responded with my characteristic grace and charm.

“So how’s the choreography coming?”
“The choreography, is it getting good and polished?  I need you to teach it to the other girl this week.”
A long silence occurs, in which I become aware of the depth of the hole I am now in.  ”You haven’t given me a set list.  I can’t choreograph a show without the score.  I’ve been asking you for it for two months.  It takes a lot longer than a week to teach two hours of choreography to someone you still haven’t introduced me to, much less create it.”
“Well I am finalizing the other dancer tomorrow.”
“ don’t have the other dancer?”
“No, but there’s plenty of time, we don’t leave for a week.  Wait, you have to have music to choreograph?”
“Of course.”
“Are you telling me that there is no choreography for our show?”
“Correct, there is no choreography for your show.  I assumed that your lack of direction meant you were ok with regular gogo dancing.”
He is not ok with regular gogo dancing.  “WHAT?!  No!  We are not just going to have gogo dancers up there, we are going to have something polished, something visual, something spectacular!  We are not just an ordinary cover band!”

Clearly, he was exactly an ordinary cover band.  I tried to explain that there was simply not enough time to accomplish his vision.  He was very upset by now and his agitated tone was creating a fog of uncomfortable tension that was spreading to the other customers.  Like a true Southern girl, I de-escalated the situation and told him I could probably accomplish some synchronized gestures to a few of the songs.  He calmed down immediately.  I was not comforted by this.
Let me underscore something here...this was entirely my fault.  Count the assumptions I made.  I didn’t educate him on my own needs, I didn’t demand his input as essential; I merely asked him for it, and then didn’t communicate that his delay made it impossible for me to do my job.  In short, I put upon this stranger who I’d just met, a blind faith that he would provide everything that I naively believed were such obvious needs, and that he would behave to the standard that I attempted to uphold.  My knowledge of human nature failed in this moment.
Although granted, he wasn’t a basket of peaches about the whole thing either.

Fast forward to the gig.  We traveled for four and a half hours into the Washington desert to a lonely little casino.  The other dancer was a lovely young woman; we had worked incessantly to choreograph, costume, and rehearse this “show” in one week’s time.  I was used to working like this; whatever it took to make it happen, get the gig, take home the reward.  Conquest.
Dancer #2 and myself sat in front of the hotel mirror putting on our makeup.  I finished and regarded the end product with satisfaction.  I then made the mistake of looking at my 19 year old counterparts’ face to make sure we matched.

Spoiler alert, we didn’t match.  In the florescent light, I looked back and forth between us.  Don’t get me wrong, I looked young at 28.  But I didn’t look 19.  That was the moment when I realized that I was about to put on glorified underwear and dance around for a bunch of old men in front of a band of old men alongside a 19 year old.  And what had completely escaped me up to that moment was, I no longer had any desire whatsoever to do that.

Sure, I was living the dream...yesterday’s dream.  My dream, minus a decade.

WTF am I doing here...

This is not a declaration of age as a marker- age is mostly a lie sent to you by society to make you feel bad about your choices.  This is about getting so caught up in the rush of your own conquest that fully nine years could pass you by without you realizing your dearest wish has quietly morphed into something else.

And trust me when when I tell you this my friends, you do not have time to do both.

Let us choose wisely- just because it pays doesn’t make it worth your time.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

How to get over yourself and get a gig.

Allow me to set the stage… here you are, you’ve been training for a while, maybe a year, maybe two. Finding a class was easy! You find a school, you sign up for a class, you show up and learn in exchange for money and effort. Lots of other students are learning with you- the pathway is already paved. There is a set curriculum and a trusted instructor; your role in this story is clear from the beginning. Everyone dances into the sunset.

Then you begin to get better, you begin to get stronger. Your progress creeps slowly but steadily forward; your ambition is waking up. You catch yourself feeling a stab of wanting when you see a photo of a peer performing in a show. You know the is a dull, pervasive, uncomfortably urgent sensation in the pit of your stomach. This is not going to go away on its own. Perhaps you are even performing a little yourself. Perhaps you are years in and wondering why your career isn’t going anywhere while you watch the world around you creating weird, cool circus shows, auditioning for top notch schools, and traveling places to learn from master teachers.

At this point your inner dialogue should sound something like this, “How in the everloving crap are they doing this?!”

“How are they paying for this?”

“Don’t people work?”

“How did they meet the right people?”

If this sounds familiar, know you are in good company. If you’d like some answers to this question, I’ve written a post just for you, in which I outline exactly how I got invited to coach and perform in Europe the first time. At this time, I was a completely unknown performer. In fact, I was miserably writing copy for a tech company in Seattle, and that feeling in the pit of my stomach simply got so painful that I had no option other than to change the course of my life.

I will show you exactly how I did this. In fact, in this post I will give you the exact email I used to blindly solicit the director of an international circus company, which led to an invitation to join their ranks.

Don’t get me wrong, it is always better to have an introduction to the gatekeeper of a group you would like to be a part of. In fact, meeting someone in person is really the best way- but this is not always possible. So if there is no hope of a personal introduction or an in-person shmooze fest, how do you cross the velvet rope with a cold, hard, uncomfortably un-requested email? It feels something like this:

But it doesn't have to be that way.

Step one, find a thing you would like to be a part of. A festival, a showcase, a company; anything that gives you the stomach stab will do.

Step two, research everything you can find about this thing. If it’s a company, look at their shows. If it’s a festival, find out who goes there. Where is it? What characterizes their work? Why do you want to do this thing in particular? Answer these questions, you will need the answers. In the course of your research you must find…

Step three, procure the email address of the gatekeeper. If you cannot find this, you fail at the internet. You can find this thing. If it is not posted clearly somewhere (which I would sincerely doubt it is) you will have to follow the rabbit hole. Google their name, look them up on Facebook, do you have any friends in common? Ask those friends. You can find out how to contact them. Do that.

Step four, send them an email.

STOP! Do not proceed until you have read all of the following. Because here is where you can waste all of your above effort by making your introductory email to this person, who might hold your fate in their hands like a tiny bird, all about YOU. For example you could fail like this:

Dear Important Maker of Decisions who is Very Busy, 
I am such and such, blablabla way too much extraneous information about me me me, causing Busy Important Person to ask why is this person emailing me?
Anway I really want to come to where you are and do the things you do, and presume I can just because I want to. Gimme it! Do you like me? Check yes or no. How do I join your club? *insert more open ended questions that no one is going to take the time to answer*
Also since I’m really inconsiderate I’m not going to give you any relevant information I will just assume that you will take the time to look me up yourself and respond to me because it is an international law that all emails must be answered.
Someone you will never reply to
*insert pointed lack of useful links or contact information*

Grumpy face.

What must be made clear in this vital piece of communication is what you can do for THEM.

The gist of what you want in this email, in order:

1- Answer the question “who the hell are you and why are you emailing me?” Let them know you are familiar with their work and not just an internet troll. Tell them why you admire them, then tell them exactly what you want, and how easy you will make it for them.

2- Give them relevant information that is helpful. Why are you worth looking into? What is uniquely valuable about you? They don't need your life story, just what is useful to them.

3- Call to action. In the following example I invite them to have a dialogue with me, and I also attached a photo that showed them what I looked like and had my contact information on it. The link to my promotional materials is clearly given, as well as a phone number. Make it so easy to find out more about you that it’s hard not to follow up.

This is the exact email that I used to get my first international gig:

Dear __________,

I have been watching _____________ from afar (really afar...I live in Seattle, Washington) for the past couple of years. Your work possesses an aesthetic that try as I might I cannot conjure up doing my solo aerial work. I am a big fan of this aesthetic. I am writing to you in the hopes that you might consider me when auditioning for future shows. I can get myself there, I would be honored by the opportunity to work with your company.

To give you an idea of my skill sets, I'm an eclectic dancer, classically trained, turned aerialist and variety performer. I am developing two acts right now, one of which combines intensive belly dance muscle isolations with aerial fabric, and an aerial hoop piece that begins with an operatic aria in the air (I am a colortura soprano). I also teach aerial conditioning and solo single point hoop. Saturday I am debuting my newest piece which is swinging hoop with an intensive spin.

I would be happy to send you any materials that might facilitate more of a dialogue. Video, audio, references galore. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, and please let me once again confer my regard for your work. I hope we can work together in the near future.

Sincerely yours,

Rachel Strickland

Here’s what I did wrong:

1- I didn’t leave them with a clear question. I invited them to have a dialogue, but it would have been even easier for them to follow up with me if I had asked them one pointed, easy to answer question. Such as “are you currently accepting applications for an audition?” Or “have you finalized your lineup of coaches for this season?” EVEN IF YOU ALREADY KNOW THE ANSWER, asking pointed, easy questions like these create a vacuum that encourages them to answer you right away, which creates a dialogue, and that is what you want.

Remember, you’re not expecting a year-long contract off of one lousy email, all you want is to get them to respond to you so you can have more opportunity to show them how wonderful you are and how much value you can give to them.

2- This email is waaaay too long. Kind of like this post is becoming. While I wanted to impress them, I could have done so in less words.

3- It's too formal. Never forget you are always writing another human being, who has many cares and tribulations, and truly is not that scary. A respectful yet conversational tone can get a better response.

With all these faults, I did manage to begin a conversation and many others- go forth and do the scary stuff.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The End of the World! Or the beginning...

And by the way you should have read that title in the voice of this spring chicken:

If you did, award yourself one point.  Anyway...

There is something happening in Oakland.
Today is our last official rehearsal for Salvage at Kinetic Arts Center in Oakland.  Let me tell you about what this has been like.  First, in comparison to my usual projects, which are always inspired, grassroots endeavors with very little resources.  This by contrast has been an inspired, grassroots endeavor with two years of blood sweat and tears built in from the beginning.  The community was rallied, auditions were held, sets were painted.  I can feel the time and the work that has gone into this project every time I walk in the door and am confronted by the rest of the cast, which are just the most ridiculous collection of talented and kind people.  I'm looking forward to opening the previews tomorrow, but I'm honestly going to miss rehearsing with them every day.

And I had to drive to Oakland by 9am every day to do that from Daly City, so let that be a testament to their quality.

To you, dear readers, of whom I expect there are possibly 12, I give unto you a gift.  If you want to see what all this is in preparation for, go to this link and use the word "bathtub" for 50% off the ticket price:

OR if you want to come this weekend, to our OPENING WEEKEND happening OMG right now almost dear lord, use the promo code "industryinsider" (cause you are) and snag yourself one of a very few $10 seat.  TEN friggen dollars.

Shows are every Saturday and Sunday through December 20th.  That's a lot of  opportunities to see what the end of the world looks like.

And look here, have you noticed what is happening in San Francisco lately?  Just in the past few months, there has been Raised by Wolves and Hinge at the Great Star Theater,  RHB now has two shows a week.  Tourettes without Regrets still going strong.

And now Kinetic Arts Productions, brand-spanking-new, is opening a full-length show and trust me when I say they have no intention of stopping at one.

It means, America, that art is surviving in San Francisco.  Come see what that feels like, and stay after so I can hug you!  Mic drop.

Monday, November 9, 2015

It's been one year ago today

since an unidentified driver smashed into my car and fled on foot, leaving me injured, in shock, and with a heavy list of losses to count.  The heaviest loss was the use of my left arm for a time, as the muscles surrounding my left shoulder had been crushed so badly that the communication between the muscle fibers and my nervous system went silent.  For a time, my left arm was a dead weight.  

It was months before I could hang from my arms again, and more months until I could do a straddle up.  I was pissed and frustrated but I forced myself to stop at the point of pain, even when I felt I could handle more.  I rebuilt that shoulder with help from my Doc (dad) and my PT,  And it happened VERY SLOWLY.  I gave up an international contract I could have probably done, but it would have meant pushing my recovery, and I didn't want a rush job.  I was afraid that if I pushed my recovery too hard, the result would be cave man muscle.  Stupid muscle.  Brutish, mouth-breathing muscle.  And I wanted an intelligent, resilient, eloquent muscle.  I wanted a shoulder that could learn French if it had to.

So maybe it took 9 months where it could have taken 5, but I'm so glad I didn't push it.  Cause now my left arm is stronger and more intelligent than my right.  To commemorate the day, I give you the result of what was at the time, mind-numbingly slow progress:

This would have been totally impossible without the mass of support I had, the excellent care I was so fortunate to have access to right away (love you Doc), and his very sound advice that if I really didn't want this to be the end, I was going to have to take the slow lane.  

Wanted to say thanks to all of you who sat with me while I cried and cursed on the mats, and to Doc, and to the kind souls who live at that intersection, who took such care with me that night.

Healing takes time.  If you're stuck being hurt, try to give your meat-suit what it needs.  <3 p="">