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Forums > Social Chat > How easy do you think it is??????

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Pele
BRONZE Member since Dec 2000

Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA

Total posts: 6193
Posted:Okay, this is going to sound like I am ranting. In a way yes, in a way no. I am planning to write a few articles on this so in a way it is research as well.

I have been getting a slew of emails and such lately saying "I have been spinning for 2 months and have gotten really good. I am ready to go professional and make it into a job. I can drive to shows and my friend will go with me to help. What else do I need to do?"

Hello!!! First of all, two months does not make anyone ready to be pro. I don't care if you practice 20 hours a day! There are audience nuances that need to be learned, that spinning alone just doesn't provide. Two months may be good for technical things but hardly enough to find your style and create a niche. Many of these notes are comming from people under the age of 18, which most places won't provide permits for and most places won't insure.
Secondly, how easy do people think the performing industry is? Is it really thought that because a person can spin they will start a business and make gads of money? That is soooooo far from the truth I can't even express it. We spend hours on costumes, research, haggling with fire marshalls, choreographing, promoting, marketing, picking the perfect music:lights:effects. We train, not just step out and spin for fun but literally train, for countless hours. We have to know contract law basics to make sure we aren't getting screwed. We have to have (and pay for) insurance, permits, etc. We have to know accounting because we still have to pay taxes. And if we don't know these things then we need to have lawyers and accountants who do on retainer. We have to keep meticulous records of everything in case the law or the IRS comes back to question us. We have meetings, dress rehearsals, auditions, seminars, workshoppes and such to keep track of. We have to constantly learn and forward what we do or else we become stale and make no money at all. We have to know the fire codes and every bit of information on our safety gear, safety standards as well as just about everything on the fuels and tools we use so that we can get ourselves out of potential jams. We have to have professional, business-like attitudes in order to scrape for respect because more often than not, performers do not get respect for doing an art at all. We give up nights and weekends when we could be relaxing or having fun just so that we can do this. And no, going and performing at clubs is not the same thing as going and spinning at clubs. A true professional does not drink on the job, or smoke weed or whatever during a show. We go in and perform, take water breaks and make nice with the audience. We put on a show, instead of spinning solely for ourselves. There is alot more to concider here. And ladies and gentlemen, that is really the tip of each iceberg. Busking/Street performing is work as well, and almost harder still since the audience has a greater chance of being really close to you.
Much of the work that goes into professionally performing has very little to do with the art you are presenting. I can work two hours a day on my spinning but spend 8 on marketing, promotions and paperwork.
I have been a professional performer, in one capacity or another, for 11 years now.

So what I want to know is, why does everyone seem to think it is so damn easy to the point where there is a huge disrespect or lack of recognition for all the hard work people put into doing the professional thing well? It is soooo much more than spinning at a party for a beer, so why aren't people recognizing this?!

And, in light of this....
Charles, Charly (and the Cabiri crew), Draevon-Maeon and crew, Chris and Kerri at Fireworks, Nomad-Peregrine and the other Anthelion-ers, Bec-Elke and their group, Donia and Ignis Devoco crew, Adam, CRD, Knagi and Maelstrom, Thermogenesis, Pyrosutra (and the many others I know of but can't think of to list)......
HUGE kudos to all the work you do, and for taking the road less travelled! I admire you all immensely and encourage you to keep up the amazing and very trying at times, work that you do!


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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Cassandra


Cassandra

Froggie ... Ribbit !!!
Location: Back in Paris... for now !

Total posts: 4224
Posted:And you forgot to mention that girl called Pele. A performer who puts so much of her soul into performing.... KUDOS to her too

I understand what you mean and fully agree.

yet I know also how exciting it is when you start spinning poi and you learn the tricks so fats and people really go "wow, aaaaa, yeah" when they watch you cause it looks cool indeed.

I don't think these people mean in in a disrepectful way *at all*, rather they simply don't know about the difficulty of being a performer for a living.
This is why it is great to have performers like you and the ones you mentioned and many otehrs to share with us what it means to be a performer...

shine on
Cassandra


"I want brown bread... no, that is diesel oil..."
"So I was raised in Europe, where History comes from ..."
"NON !!! La Plume de mon oncle n est pas Bingibangibungi !!!"

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pozee
BRONZE Member since Jul 2001

old hand
Location: san diego

Total posts: 886
Posted:ladies,

i must agree with you that a lot of people do tend to think that they can just jump right in to it and start getting paid for just spinning come circles with their poi. now i do encourage everyone if they say that they want to perform, but pele is right. there is soooo much more to it than the actual twirling aspect of it.

"There are audience nuances that need to be learned, that spinning alone just doesn't provide. Two months may be good for technical things but hardly enough to find your style and create a niche"

too true. i thought i was good when i was able to do all the moves with poi, but finally i realized that people dont really look at the moves you do. there is soo much more. your whole style has to be there. its a dance not a set of moves.

then their is the business side which Pele touched upon. VERY TOUGH!! getting booked, getting permits, making your contract. it takes a long time and effort to get to where you can uderstand what you are doing. something new will always come uyp and you need to be able to handle it.

the whole performance needs to be proffesional, well thought out. i think of it as a painting, not many people just paint a small portion in the middle of the canvas, they paint the whole thing. costumes, choreography, schedule of events. all that is going to be a deciding factor on weather or not the people love your performance, and weather or not you will get the repeat business.

well, just got bored and wanted to write a bit about this...


anyone got a light?

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Raymund Phule (Fireproof)


Raymund Phule (Fireproof)

Enter a "Title" here:
Location: San Diego California

Total posts: 2905
Posted:I say kudose to Pele for standing up and telling people the truth behind the show. True anybody can learn to spin but not everybody can do what she has done for what was it? 11 years, think about most profesional carers only last 6-9 years yet she has made it in the hardest business.

Some Jarhead last night: "this dumb a$$ thinks hes fireproof"

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adamrice


adamrice

poo-bah
Location: Austin TX USA

Total posts: 1015
Posted:You know, even if it weren't for all the stuff Pele mentioned, it'd still be hard. Travelling, dealing with congenitally incompetent clients, and just the raw physical energy it takes to put on a show mean that *even if it were* just a matter of showing up and twirling, it'd still be hard.

These kids who have just gotten started and want to make a career out of it, well, I can understand their situation. You never know how much you don't know about a subject until you start learning. These people are innocent of all that knowledge, most importantly the knowledge of how much they don't know.

So they'll either get sobered up by Pele's story or they'll crash ahead and learn through experience, a.k.a. mistakes. And it's better to make these mistakes when you're 18, I say. Then again, these kids could wind up making very serious mistakes that poison the environment for all of us.

Also, I want to be clear about something--although I've had a few gigs, and will have more, I mostly do this for fun. I very consciously want to avoid letting something that I enjoy turn into work. If you enjoy a certain activity, that's not necessarily a reason to make it your work, and in fact, it might be a good reason *not* to make it your work. What Pele is describing may be fun, but it's mostly work and needs to be viewed as such. And I know she has reasons other than "I like twirling" for making it her work.


Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

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toneman


member


Total posts: 195
Posted:Hey Pele, I know you're a little perterbed, but I just wanna point out....

... I wanted to be a rock star when I was a teenager.

It was only a few years ago I found out I have no skill to go with my passion... Skill not only being technical with music, but the ability for self promoting, deal making and the desire to live on nothing while I "made it big"

I think you should be honored. You are someone's rockstar!!

immitation is the highest form of flattery (or copyright infringement!!!)


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SmokyDavy
SILVER Member since Jan 2002

Do my poi look too small in this?
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Total posts: 394
Posted:I've been doing poi for 7 months. I've only done one performance and it wasn't a paid gig, so I've got little experience.. I do have to say that I can see already that I've got a lot to learn about 'performing' as opposed to 'playing' (I usually call anything other than a gig 'playing').

Even so though, I had a few strangers come and tell me they thought I was great, and one guy told me that his night was crap but then he saw our performance it totally made his night. Maybe his pill was kicking in, I don't know, but I definitely thought it could have been a LOT better.

About that drinking or smoking pot before a show. I strongly agree that it can be a problem, at my friend's party in toronto the fire-dancer was too drunk and set fire to herself!!

But..
<I apologize, I like to play the devil's advocate>
I think thats more about smoking or drinking or doing any drug to excess. I think 1 beer or a few tokes may help someone to relax when they've got stage fright.

Doing any drug before a performance is a gamble, but doing it to excess is not only suicidal to your performance, but somewhat insulting to whoever paid for you to perform.


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SickpuPpy


SickpuPpy

Ninja Rockstar!
Location: Denver, Co. U.S.A.

Total posts: 1100
Posted:We were all teenagers once, I know I thought I would spend my life doing all sorts of things that I look back on now and go "what the f*ck was I thinking!?". And, like a lot of people that have only been spinning for one or two months, they will probobly get tired of it and end up putting it aside to pursue other things. Once there aren't as many new moves to learn it can get kind of boring, I mean you can only do the weave so many ways.

And from my own expeiriance, dealing with club owners and trying to book regular performances is enough to discourage almost anyone. Then once you get past that hurdle you still get to deal with the audiances, and the guys who want to look tough in front of their girls so they try to beat down your performances talking smack and so on, I'm shure most of us who have performed have heard the "Oh, that's nothing. I could do that if I wanted" .
As a musician (just for an example) I've met at least a hundred starry eyed kids who think that just because you start a band as soon as MTV gets wind of you that you're instantly going to be a millionair. They don't realize that there are a million diffirent people exactly like them, and that it is a horribly tough road to travel. Mirical situations rarely happen, and you won't know the meaning of the word "dedication" untill you've been hacking at for ten or fifteen years, while still going in to your crappy day job every morning so you can eat this week.

There's just too many stars, and not enough sky


Jesus helps me trick people.

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Firefairy


member
Location: UK

Total posts: 115
Posted:I understand your frustration but the inexperienced yet enthusiastic do not think further than "I want to do this".

You should be encouraged that you are getting emails from these people - by speaking to you, they want to know more and you have opportunity to impart your knowledge and experience; being a positive role model and letting them know exactly what is involved.

quote: So what I want to know is, why does everyone seem to think it is so damn easy to the point where there is a huge disrespect or lack of recognition for all the hard work people put into doing the professional thing well? The people who are contacting you obviously respect you and aspire to your standards. They want your advice, your knowledge and a glimpse into the dazzling world of performance. OK, they may need a reality check but we all have to start somewhere and if they are serious they will work through what you have and succeed.


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Pele
BRONZE Member since Dec 2000

Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA

Total posts: 6193
Posted:Fire Fairy, I have helped alot of people through this. The ones who come across as very serious and have pointed questions. However, I have met people who were nasty to me because "I am a professional" and they automatically assume I think I am better than anyone else. I find that disrespectful. I find it disrespectful that people are saying they can spin and they can drive so they can be pro's. I recieved emails from one gentleman about 8 times asking the same question in different ways because he didn't like my answer and was trying to find a way around what I was saying (insurance and safety of all things). That is disrespectful.

There are those that are wonderful and I have been more than glad to help, and am so very proud and thrilled for the accomplishments they have made. But then there are those who don't want to learn and don't want to put the effort into it but want to (and this is one of my favorite quotes) "Get famous with my fire!" I wish it were that easy!

Thank you all for your insights and thoughts. I appreciate it immensely and would love to hear what more you have to say!

And I mean this to in no way thwart anyone who wants to try to make this a career, and please do write me. All I am saying is realise that it is not all fun and burns, in fact it is work, and there is alot of responsibility that goes with it.
Thanks!


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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Dom
BRONZE Member since Dec 2001

Dom

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Bristol, UK

Total posts: 3009
Posted:There are probably a lot of spinners who are good enough at their stuff to go to a party and for people to say "Wow, that's looks really amazing! Do you do that professionally?" and think "Yeah! Maybe I should." It's easy to be optimistic about it and get carried away. However in most places people won't have ever had the chance to see someone perform professionally with poi or a similar art. The minute you see a fully costumed, choreographed, timed and outstanding professional performance you know it's going to take a lot of work! However until then it's easy not to realise how hard it is.

When spinning at a club or for friends people are going to be wowed by the novelty and the pretty lights going round and round for a bit, but after that it's just pretty lights going round and round and so what? Flags tend to get attention at clubs because they're new, but if I spun them for more than 5 minutes people would soon tire of them. A true professional performer will turn those lights into a show, and that's what takes the mental effort to realise and the physical and mental effort to attain.

Because of all the hard work involved this is why there's only a few long term performers about. So encourage people to explore the path, but let them know what that means.

Me, I don't perform. If I'm spinning in a club I'll try and make it a bit entertaining for anyone that might be watching, but I'm still just playing with myself


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Firefairy


member
Location: UK

Total posts: 115
Posted:Dom's got a good point (as usual!)

So here's an idea... Just to add to your already very full and busy schedule, why dont you either run a few workshops and/or make a video of your performances. In fact you may actually free some time up for yourself in the long run! AND it would be a great way of getting rid of the people who frustrate you with "well, I run a workshop...." or "I advise you to buy my video first..." Whilst still helping out the people you feel you want to.

As to those people who were nasty to you because you r a professional, who automatically assume that u think u r better than anyone else; I would imagine that, on most occassions the underlying reason that they are nasty to you is because they find your expertise intimidating and/or they are jealous. Not that that excuses them but it may help you to feel better!!


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vanize
SILVER Member since Aug 2001

vanize

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Austin, Texas

Total posts: 3899
Posted:Good lord, after 2 months, I thought my spinning was about good enough for a "funniest home videos" cameo. I wasn't even doing fire yet (I seriously doubt if a poi glow show would make anyone much of a living). After almost 2 years I feel like I can put on a respectable (or at least acceptable) show, but I know plenty of others can do better. We have a troupe here which I am a part of and occasionally does paid gigs. I knew it wouldn't be a trivial task to get it going, and it has been a real education actually doing it. First there is actually getting a band of people to work together and be reliable, because fire is hard to entertain in any semblance of a safe manner without multiple people. Did you all know that people who love to perform tend to be flakes when it comes to organization and long term commitments? Shocking, isn't it? Fortunately I have been blessed with what seems like a more than typically reliable group of people.

Then there are all sorts of other problems - who goes after who? who is lead off? who is anchorman? who performs at what gigs? what do you charge? what the hell do you do about all these complete morons who don't realize they are walking right through the middle of a performance until the fire is right in their face? what about insurance? why can't the fire marshal just leave us alone? why does he want us to pay him $200 every time we perform publically? what about insurance? how are we going to get the music to work better for us? why do DJs charge so darned much? how do you get more gigs? how do you find an agent? This agent sucks, where can I find another agent who is worth a damn? why is this new agent so picky?

Then there are the club owners who apparently think you can do your show in a space smaller than your water closet, the people who hired you who "forgot" their checkbook, drunken idots who seem hell bent on getting wacked with a flamming poi, the non-existant sound systems that the employers promised would be there, the people that want to play with your equipment after the show, oh, and how about that no-talent wanker that talked you into teaching him something about fire performance a few months ago who is now taking gigs on your turf and sucking so bad and being so unsafe that you are absolutely positive that anyone who sees him will never want to hire fire performes ever (I now have a precise and clear understanding of the guild system).

I imagine it just goes on from there, but that is about as far as I can see right now after a few months of being semi-serious about hiring out. Right now I'd say the thing I need to work on most before getting to the next level is audience interaction. That is not an easy thing to learn, and likely where Pele and others would shine much brighter than me. My technical skills are very solid by now, but that is mearly the thing that traps the ego into this nightmare realm of putting on a show for $$$. The kicker is, it seems like an enjoyable way to make money - on the surface at least. But to earn a real living at it... well, it might be easier, more profitable, and less of a strain on your sanity to keep your day job.

-v-


-v-

Wiederstand ist Zwecklos!

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arashi


arashi

Pooh-Bah
Location: austin,tx

Total posts: 2363
Posted:oh, fuckin yeah... (as he goes out to his second bedroom, under the hood of the tour bus, dreads stickin out in all directions, and a bleary eyed redness pervades his vision). at first i was just annoyed at how popular and cool fire dancing had become, i felt like a part of myself had been pop-culturized, but now i see it as a blessing, a chance for the dedicated to be appreciated, and as was mentioned, imitation is the highest form of flattery. pele, just tell them how much we all make a year... that'll scare some sense into them...but we have to expect all of this insanity, and more... every fire show we do, there are 3 more dancers in the world

-Such a price the gods exact for song: to become what we sing
-Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty.
-When the center of the storm does not move, you are in its path.

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Stone
GOLD Member since Jun 2001

Stream Entrant
Location: Melbourne

Total posts: 2830
Posted:Ok I'm up for a rant due to recent experience. A few of the local kids were putting on Freeza (drug and alcohol free) rave and wanted some fire twirlers to add to the atmosphere. Cool, no problems.

So, I asked around thinking it would be a bit of fun, but the first person I asked said "How Much $"expecting to paid. This really "pissed me off" because it was a community thing and this person is really not very good. I thought she might actually learn a bit by coming along.

Unfortunately, that was the attitude around town. So, I rocked up by myself with a few stick and stuff, go going and when anyone showed any interest, I gave them a stick to play with. Seems like there are heaps of closet twirlers out there, and we had a great night.

To answer Pele's Q. I don’t think it's disrespect, I think it's ignorance (which I suppose could be considered the same thing).

People think that because they can spin fire they should be paid for it. As a career, it seems like fun and it would be an easy to make a living. Just like lots of people want to be rock stars or actors. In reality, many are called few are chosen. Actually, I'll take that rock star bit back, considering the amount of crap bands around at present. It seems like anyone with an ego and a guitar can become a rock star.

And, apart from the business side of things, I think many people really underestimate the skills required for a good performance. They probably haven't seen any professions or even bothered to watch themselves in a mirror or on video. Hey, perhaps you could ask them to send in a video to see if they have anything. You could become an agent

Another thing I have noticed is that in the last few years fire twirling has really moved away from being a spectator sport to a participation sport. Which suits me. I really enjoy going along to parties, doof's, festivals or whatever to meet people, learn new moves and just watch. I’ll leave performance to the professionals.


If we as members of the human race practice meditation, we can transcend our fear, despair, and forgetfulness. Meditation is not an escape. It is the courage to look at reality with mindfulness and concentration. Thich Nhat Hanh

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arashi


arashi

Pooh-Bah
Location: austin,tx

Total posts: 2363
Posted:right on, brother, right on...
man. this string is vibrating with healing energies for me. can you feel them? my heart chakra is open, now, and, like, i'm ready to rant, too. let me clear my throat chakra <ahem>
i'm not a fire dancer because i WANT to be a rock star. but people talk to me, and their eyes say "i'm a rock star because i want to be a fire dancer". man everybody wants to be a rockstar. that's why there's so much ego crap that we are dealing with. people see fire dancing, and they want a piece of the action. fire is so fuckin cool, and i mean it this time. it is. all this debaclery is what happens to every movement of spirit- look at christianity! look at jane's addiction! the hardest part is to deal with what happens when shit gets popular. you got people all throwing their selves at you. and the rock stars are there. we have to deal with them, even when they are doing fire without extinguishers at a party, even when they steal our gigs from under us. and then you run into the people who are new, and are doing this because they have to. and everything gets better. ain't that the world? but you know, i've seen people come, and people go... the people who do this because they have to, because they can't stop playing with fire, because it's a madness, they will stick with it. and the rock stars- if they don't fuck things up for us, they'll just go away, i hope. i started to get intrigued by the kung fu schools' systems of confucian style order- the way everything is based on lineage, and respect, and how there was a level of respect inherent in the teaching, any martial artist knows what i mean- those things evolved for a reason, it's because of the rock stars. and not that i think that this is the way for all fire dancers, necessarily. but what do you do when every dipshit who can spin something around starts thinkin they are cool and risking people's lives? perhaps we all need to start thinking about some kind of way to impress upon people that this ain't no party, this ain't no disco, this ain't no foolin around! well you know what i mean. not all structured and rigid like a rulebook, just a philosophy... i contacted that dude that pele mentioned was trying to get a guild or something together, to see what he's up to. crap it's late...


-Such a price the gods exact for song: to become what we sing
-Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty.
-When the center of the storm does not move, you are in its path.

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Ade
SILVER Member since Mar 2001

Are we there yet?
Location: australia

Total posts: 1897
Posted:I thought long and hard before replying to this thread, so I have my flame retardent gel on in readyness

quote:So what I want to know is, why does everyone seem to think it is so damn easy to the point where there is a huge disrespect or lack of recognition for all the hard work people put into doing the professional thing well? It is soooo much more than spinning at a party for a beer, so why aren't people recognizing this?! I recently read the Ramones biography, and their attitude towards their skill was quite inspiring: In essence they thought they'd never be as good as Zepplin or Hendrix, and would never gain the respect or money they attracted - so they thought f%t63ck it, lets just do it anyway. The punk attitude and method of doing things (just get in and have a go) was born.

Over 20 years later, they still have no money, recognition and some would say still no skills , but they gave it a go, and in some eyes are one of the most influential bands of all time. In others eyes, they're a bunch of skinny amatuers, who should learn from the experts to play and perform properly.

I admire those that give it a go - pro or punk - there's room for the Ramones and for the classically trained orchestras.

gabba gabba
we accept you
we accept you
one of us


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Pele
BRONZE Member since Dec 2000

Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA

Total posts: 6193
Posted:Playing poorly in a band will kill no one.
Playing poorly with fire can.

I never said I was the best or have tonnes of perfect skill, wayyyyy far from it! I never said it had anything to do with spinning skill. I did say that in two months you can have good technical skill with poi. However, there is performing skill, and that is different. There is business skill, and that is different. There are all these other components that few seem to recognise.

Be a rock star, or try to be. It's far less dangerous and easier since the advent of independent labels.

Thanks all for the input. This is a real good, thought provoking read. I appreciate it!


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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NYC


NYC

NYC
Location: NYC, NY, USA

Total posts: 9232
Posted:Perhaps we put too much stock into "getting paid"... that is, I've done gigs where my group got paid. Does that make me "professional quality?"

With all of the strangeness going on at clubs and such it's easy to get a few hundred bucks thrown at you by promoters for "doing something cool"... perhaps being hired and paid is being confused with talent and professionalism.


Well, shall we go?
Yes, let's go.
[They do not move.]

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Axis


member
Location: Bristol, UK

Total posts: 171
Posted:I love my job, but it is not my sole source of income.

Yes it is worth all the hard work.

I highly recommend it.

Watch proffessionals, and learn to be proffessional.

There is much to learn. Get training if you can (dance theatre circus etc)

'There is nothing to be gained from failure to fly'.

Axis


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