Thinking of running away with the circus? A lot of people have asked me how to apply for these jobs, and I relate very much to their questions. I started out with no idea about these things, and hopefully this list will help you get on the performing life faster than I did.
Here are the things you need for your performing career:
1: A Full Act
Before trying to sell anything, firstly have the product! The products are you as the performer and your act/s. More than cool tricks and skills, casting agents and directors are looking at how you perform, command the stage, and transition between moves.
Besides, in this day and age, it’s easier to have clips of moves that you are not consistent with (you know, those you luckily get on video). Having an unedited video of a full act tells people your moves are clean and consistent when you perform them. A full act typically ranges from about 4-6 minutes.
The contents of your full act video depends on the type of contracts you are aiming for. Sometimes, you’ll need a professionally produced video (on stage and with lights) and proper costumes – specially if you’re targeting corporate shows and ship contracts. But some productions don’t need these as they only need to see your performance and they will provide you with costumes.
As a rule of thumb, do the best you can and make it as high quality as possible.
2: Demo Video / Sizzle Reel
Yes, yes, you and your act/s are the products, but you need to catch people’s attention in about a minute or two. You need a demo video or a sizzle reel.
This is like a teaser trailer for your movie. It should be interesting, shows the best of you and your different skills. This is where you show agents and producers how valuable you are to a production and how they can utilize you as a performer. Show your different acts, acrobatics, dancing and movement, different performing styles, etc.
Make sure it’s short and sweet; a minute long is ideal, but two minutes is the recommended maximum. Include contact information in this video as well – an email address, a website, or a contact number.
3: Public Portfolio – Website, YouTube Channel, Instagram, FB Page
While some people recommend one platform or the other, it’s just important to have a public portfolio that people can view without having to contact you or know you. Some casting happens over search engines and social media, like for example if you search for “leviwand act,” “leviwand performer,” or “leviwand artist” my videos pop up – they don’t have to know who I am to contact me and request for some of my videos.
Think of it as the display shelf of your products.
Platforms you can use are your own website, a YouTube channel, an Instagram account, or a Facebook page. These are my recommendations since they still tend to be professional, but other platforms like TikTok might be useful too.
And again, make sure they can tell who you are and how to contact you so you can land those jobs. I’ve seen some YouTube videos with no contact information nor performer info. Don’t make these mistakes!
4: CV / Resume
You need your CV (curriculum vitae) or resume ready when companies start seeing your products and considering you for projects. Though not all hiring companies ask for this, it makes you look professional when you have this document ready.
Since CVs or resumes already contain a lot of important information – work experience, training experience, etc. – I also make sure to include some minor but attractive qualities and skills that might make me a more viable casting choice. I include my aerial experience (even though I don’t consider myself an aerialist) and my make-up and face paint design skills which might make a difference when companies are deciding who to hire.
Again, don’t forget to include your contact information in this document. I also keep a copy of this in my Google Drive which makes it easier to share to relevant people.
5: Submissions to Casting Agencies and Companies
Now that you have your act/s, your videos, your sizzle reel, your public portfolio, and your CV/resume, you have to let people know you are in the market for performing jobs. Sure, some people might search for you or stumble upon your profile, but why not increase the chances of getting projects by actively seeking out opportunities?
There are a few ways of doing this:
- Entertainment Companies. The way I got into the Cirque roster was through their very own casting website (www.cirquedusoleil.com/casting) where I registered to create a profile and upload my requirements. Other companies have casting information in their websites as well, either creating a profile or an email you can submit to.
- Agencies. There are a few circus casting agency websites out there. These agencies let you create or submit your profile in their website, and they can find projects or place you in contracts in which you fit the specific requirement. These agencies are usually non-exclusive (i.e. you can sign up for different ones), and they get percentage of the salaries you earn from their service. Though I haven’t had a contract from an agency before, I have had inquiries from them (but couldn’t accept due to conflicts), meaning they are actively seeking opportunities and casting their talents. Some examples are Rising Stars and International Casting Agency.
- Casting Call Groups. There are quite a number of dedicated Facebook groups for casting purposes. You can try searching for “circus casting,” “circus jobs,” or “cruise ship jobs” for example. I’m a member in a number of them, but haven’t actually acquired a contract by this method, though I see a lot of casting calls that don’t fit me but might fit you. Other people also post their photos, videos, availability, and contact info on these groups in hopes of being scouted by an agent or a company.
That’s all for now! I wish you the best in your professional performing journey.
If you want further guidance, I highly recommend The Performer’s Guide (www.theperformersguide.com) which has a lot of resources, articles, tutorials, courses, and also Krystin Railing, my very own performing mentor, offers one-on-one coaching to help get your career on the best track. Do mention you’ve learned about her from Ehrlich “Firechill” Ocampo. 😉