How To: Prep + Perform

This month I had several performances with Orange County Aerial Arts and Circo Etereo. Orange County Aerial Arts is an amateur apprentice group and Circo Etereo is a professional performing group. There is a lot of preparation that goes into a whole weekend of performances. Because we performed several times a day, we had to switch up the performances to constantly entertain and intrigue the audience. This can cause a lot of confusion if there isn’t clear communication and adequate preparation.

To prepare for the weekend of performances, we went to rehearsal four to five times a week. This included Monday,Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We all had several different pieces to work on, so everyone was busy working with whomever they could. This made rehearsals very busy. Rehearsals would have been crazy if we hadn’t made a structure and followed it. An outline for a rehearsal would include who is needed to rehearse, for how long, and what everyone else was to be doing. After weeks of rigorous practice, we were ready.

But you aren’t done preparing until the music starts, signaling the beginning of your piece. Once I arrived at the event, I still had to complete my hair and makeup and make sure that I had all the costumes that I needed. Once I had decided that I had everything I needed and that my lipstick was perfect, I knew it was time to perform!
Preparation for a weekend of performances isn’t all work. We have plenty of fun in between our rehearsals. There was goofy faces, many inside jokes, shopping trips, and sleepovers. Over the years, my aerial arts friends and I have developed a bond, both professionally and personally. This bond not only makes performing together more fun, but it allows us to express that emotion through our pieces.

This weekend of performances was at the Orange County Fairgrounds. It was a large outdoor venue. The event was a family, fun event that drew hundreds of children and adults.

I was performing with my studio’s professional group, Circo Etereo. I liked performing with Circo Etereo because it is mostly adults, so there wasn’t a lot of immature drama.
On the other hand, because it was our first day of performing, we were still figuring out how to run the show smoothly. We had to deal with all of the technical issues, such as how to start the music, stop the music, get the correct volume, and deal with the wind. On that particular day, the wind was 17 miles per hour.

To solve the problem of the wind, we had someone on call in case the performer needed help and we tied up the fabric in between performances. Another problem we ran into was that we had a routine that was not very family friendly and geared more toward an adult audience. So after consulting with many other performers, we decided to cut the routine. This meant changing our line up and needing to be flexible and adapt to the situation.

Aside from the problems and setbacks, the show was very fun to put on and watch. When I wasn’t performing, I was able to watch our show. We had professionals in their natural habitats and it was very exciting to watch them perform. Some performers had competed in aerial arts competitions and they were performing their winning routines. Overall, it was a very impressive show.

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Throughout the weekend, we offered hour long classes in between our performances. Anyone over the age of five could take these classes and learn a few basic skills on the fabric. For a couple hours I worked the front table and I was very surprised at the amount of people who wanted to try aerial arts. There were even a few moms who really wanted to give it a try. I could tell we inspired and intrigued the audience of all ages.

On Sunday, the atmosphere of the show was more playful and silly because I had all of my friends around and the day’s show was all kids’ performances with the amateur apprentice group. It was really fun to watch my friends perform their routines and have fun with the crowds. The performers’ ages ranged from 9 to 15 years old. Because of the age range, the older kids took care of the younger kids. I also had more fun on Sunday because I was the event photographer, so it was very fun to take candid pictures of the little kids. Also knowing aerial arts, made it easier to take some great action shots.


One of the major issues on Sunday for me was the fact that I was getting sick. Because of the wind, I was getting allergies. By the time the day was half over, I was very tired and had a runny nose. I was supposed to be performing my competition-winning piece, but I did not feel well enough. My endurance continued to drop as the day progressed. I let my instructor know that I didn’t feel healthy enough to perform my routine. I was worried that he would be upset or disappointed in me for not performing my routine, but that was not the case. He told me that he could tell that I wasn’t well enough to perform and that he was proud of me for calling it.

Everyone else was pretty tired and this resulted in performers short cutting their routines and not making safe decisions that could potentially result in injury. My instructor is a stickler for safety and watches everyone like a hawk. This was why he was very proud of me for knowing my limits and staying safe because other, less experienced performers were not making those decisions independently. Thankfully no one got hurt, but everyone who wasn’t being safe got a stern talking to.

After the shows, everyone celebrated and walked around the event and had a great time. Once the event ended, we all packed up all of our makeup and costumes. The rule was we were to take home all of our costumes, wash them, and return them to the costume box at our studio. Back at the studio, everyone was buzzing about how well the shows went and what routines we want to perform at future events. At the time of writing this, we have four routines from that event that we will be performing in future shows. Not only do I love performing because we all have so much fun together, but I love seeing the smiles on the faces in the audience. People of all ages let us know how amazed they are to witness this amazing sport!


– Maddie

All photos by taken by Maddie!

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