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Check Out Emily Perkins’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Emily Perkins.

Emily, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I’ve been involved with athletics and art my entire life. I turned away from athletics in favor of art when I attended Columbia College for painting from 2008-2012; I pursued painting as my career and passion for several years until I discovered hoop.

This was the perfect meeting of art and athleticism for me and I haven’t looked back. I have been performing professionally for 7 years now.

We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
Hoop dance is my primary art form, with a circus bent. I’m excited about circus-style tricks being combined with more artful expressions based in dance and illusion. It is a moving meditation for me- a release which finds me much happier after I do it.

I hope to inspire other people to pursue a passion which feels good to them. Everyone should have something they like to do in which they engage so deeply that they can find a flow state. This could be painting, circus, cooking, shoot- it could be folding laundry. (Thanks Marie Kondo!)

The sterotype of a starving artist scares away many potentially talented artists from pursuing art – any advice or thoughts about how to deal with the financial concerns an aspiring artist might be concerned about?
Make an outline and be realistic with yourself. Figure out where you can save money and be disciplined about it. Make a schedule for yourself! Holding yourself accountable to a schedule you make yourself is one of the most challenging aspects of working for yourself. If you -can- wake up whenever you want, why wouldn’t you do that instead of waking up early to smash tasks? Because you love it! Make sure you love it.

Get help where you can. I couldn’t do this without an emotional and financial support system like my family and friends. Sometimes, I find myself short, and friends are happy to contribute by buying a lesson or hoop from me, for example.

Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
I perform solo regularly at a variety of clubs around town- Untitled, The Drifter, Comedy Cabaret, Bordel, and Alhambra Palace, just to name a few. Corporate events are my bread and butter, however.

I manage an entertainment company called Pyrotechniq Productions, owned by the incomparable Ashley Bertling. I’m lucky to have her in my life to share my inspiration and perseverance and to give me an outlet for making bigger and better versions of my dreams. You can come by our studio in the Flat Iron Arts building in Wicker Park to say hi or to book a class!

Part of keeping the dream alive is teaching, making performance props, costumes, and coordinating other performers. There are so many cogs to being a full time working artist, especially in Chicago. It’s uncommon to find someone who does only one-factor full time.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Philip Solomonson, Bartek Jeekoos, Jeffrey Millies, Simon Rubenstein

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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