I am publishing this particular blog out of love, love for a Mother and daughter, love for the thoughts I am about to share, and for the love of those who may become future stilt walkers of the world.
I met a wonderful woman of the name, Roberta M. (Bobby), and she started a email via a Buskers discussion page for her daughter Heather's stilt walking ability, she will either take over all Internet correspondences one day or Bobby will continue to have to do the management work.
Her daughter has named her "manager" for she does the management work for her daughters stilt waking talents, Bobby believes she does not do anything special for she is just a ground worker....yet special she truly is. And below is the email/letter she sent out the Busker Group~
"Heather is 16, walks on drywall stilts, Juggles, and blows bubbles. She just got, in the last month, Voltige peg stilts(45cm, 90cm, 110cm) and she likes them more than the dry wall stilts because they are much lighter. But she is not yet entirely comfortable with them. She can't stand completely still on them yet, and she wants too. But she found she has more freedom of movement with the peg stilts. She is really working on them.
She has been walking on drywall stilts for about 3yrs, and performing for almost 2 1/2. She has been in dance classes for about 9yrs and attributes her balance to it."
It started when, as a family Bobby had her costuming Star Wars. Heather insisted that she wanted to be Chewbacca. Bobby told her that as a family they were way to short and that she would have to learn how to walk on stilts. They got the dry wall stilts for the stability with a heavy Wookiee costume and mask. Their neighbor then decided that she would make a great addition to a school fund raiser where she taught, this lead to them making pants and tops for these events. They never thought that Heathers desire to be a Wookiee would grow into this much fun, and they do love to doing stilted events. They still have yet to make the Chewie costume yet.
Bobby is not the only one to support her in stilts, her Grandfather helped me teach her how to stilt. Neither one of us knew how, we just bought the stilts, strapped them on and yanked her to her feet. She was much more ready to let go of my hand than I was to let hers go. Story of a mother's life. My mother makes all her costumes (except the few regular cloths that end up in the mix).
We hope to make some money at this on a limited basis. This
currently is not meant to be her life's work. She wants to be a veterinarian and probably a busker on the side. Because of all these web sites and message boards I have recently found that might be possible.
Oh my dear, making money providing ambiance while on stilts is VERY possible, I myself have been doing it since 1999. I suggest a starting rate of $50 to $75 a hour for now and this can lead upwards to $200 an hour with time, and of course children/charity gigs shall always take the financial bite in the wallet...it is the right thing to do.
Our best performance experience is the confidence that the Children's Hospital puts in her for every event that they want her to participate in. Our worst is when second or third parties don't take her serious. One case in point, a friend who has a business wanted her to stilt on a special day, then the friend's insurance man said that if we showed up with stilts that they would drop the business coverage. Our own school refuses to let her stilt on school property on school time. But the community fair held at the school has her stilt. We don't fight those who seem to be narrow minded. Lets face it even when one wins an argument the hurt feelings won't change the out come.
My suggestion for the future, and to squash any problems that may arise over stilt walking is to check out Clowns of the U.S. because they offer insurance policies for entertainers and stilt walkers are part of the same group. It costs $200 for a 1 year coverage policy...but the insurance policy is good for up to 2-4 million dollars! So now you can imagine if there is a client/school/insurance company issue over the risk of having her perform on stilts at anytime, she can whip out a 2-4 million dollar coverage policy that will leave any future verbal concerns very quiet.