Master of Adaption
Life as an entertainer has made it necessary to learn many skills beyond what is demonstrated in the plethora of choreographed presentations of physical ambitions. In dealing with agents, event coordinators and demanding clients I have learned to be a great diplomat. At times the distinctive line separating diplomacy and victimization has become blurred. While one would expect to be treated in a professional, courteous manner by those participating in the creation of art and beauty, it simply is not always the case. I have had a recent experience where these lines were crossed and my skill set grew once again, due to the bold reaction of a friend and fellow teammate who was unwilling to be treated with flippant disregard. As a master of adaption I was able to navigate the situation at hand, but I will choose to handle things more like my friend in the future.
While interpersonal relations is one way in which I have learned to utilize the skill of adaption in the business of entertainment, there is another mode of adapting that has served me well throughout my career. Adapting to surprises and pulling off a good performance regardless of the circumstances has been an asset that has kept me working as a valuable part of every production.
Even before I was a pro entertainer I was always prepared for the hazards of performance.
The year I won Grand National Solo at AYOP I had packed 8 pairs of solo shoes, knowing that a too slippery or sticky floor could be a make or break situation. I ended up wearing a pair of hideous brown corduroy Keds that were just right, while my toughest competitor slipped around on what seemed like an ice rink.
Adaption and the willingness to shed the feeling of embarrassment over my ugly shoes was the skill that made me a champion that night.
Are the spot lights too bright? Adapt. Turn your tosses to the back.
Arms too dry for rolls? Adapt. Smear roll-on lip gloss all over them. I went through hundreds of tubes of the stuff in the ’80’s.
Luggage didn’t arrive and you don’t have a costume? Too bad. Adapt. Cut up a T-shirt, buy a glue gun, make it look cool.
Cirque Du Soleil superiors forgot the main headdress in Montreal? Walk for hours collecting feathers, spray paint, hat base from Goodwill, build the headdress, save their butts, pull off a no drop routine even though your feet are blistered beyond belief. Shut up and Adapt.
Airport lost thousands of dollars worth of your props, including your specialty twirling knives and you are performing in 2 hours? ADAPT. Borrow some garden machetes, purchase two wooden dowels from a nearby hardware store, tape dowels to machete handle with Gorilla tape. Do not complain about the horrendous balance and near impossibility of maneuvering said machetes. Just do the routine to the best of your ability and be thankful you have the life of a performer.
Garden Machete’s with Gorilla Taped Dowels: