Call for Man Pavilion Performers

We are pleased to announce that the door is now open for your creative contribution to this year’s Man Pavilion. This year we are excited to announce two artist calls. You’ll find detailed information on the call for performers in this post, and you can find out more about the call-out for designers, urbanists, artists and architects over here. 

With this call for Man Pavilion performers, we want to invoke flights of fancy, feats of delight, and the awe of the extraordinary through the art of aerial performance. We look forward to receiving your ideas and collaborating with you on another epic Burning Man event in Black Rock City!

The Idea

Each year we contemplate the structure and site for the Man as a place of interaction, invitation, and, for some, a symbolic annual trek to the middle of Black Rock CIty. With our entire urban plan built around this iconic figure at the heart of the playa, the Man Pavilion is, after a fashion, our central ‘monument’. 

Of course, we lovingly burn our monument each year, which is such a wonderful ritual of not taking ourselves too seriously, holding on too tightly, or over deifying our public symbol. It is both a rich and richly ironic statement of our constancy and our impermanence.

To create the  interactive experience at this year’s Man Pavilion, we are looking for works that animate the Pavilion’s beautiful elevated structure by invoking height, awe and grace through aerial performance. 

We imagine a series of performance works that speak to a transcendent change, natural or imagined, which incorporate the six sweeping vertical columns to support the Chrysalis and involve aerial dance or aerial-circus art forms. 

Burning Man has a long history of performance and performance art; in fact, the development of Burner costumes and characters derives its legacy from early performance artists that participated in Burning Man. Those furry boots and steam punk glasses are echoes of our creative past!  


This call is open to individual artists as well as companies of artists. For aerial dance artists that rappel off the side of buildings, we invite daytime performance work that will focus on the legs supporting the Chrysalis, which is the base of the Man. 

For aerial artists who use trapeze, tissu/silks, corde lisse/aerial rope, or sangles/straps, we will have rig points between the arches formed by the legs for suspended work. The call is also open for those who do hair hanging. We invite you to celebrate and explore aerial art in concert with this year’s theme of Metamorphoses. Come lift, soar, and inspire!

All accepted projects will receive a stipend of $500 – $1,200 (based on length of performance and number in the company) for materials and transportation, access to gift Burning Man 2019 tickets for your team, and Work Access Passes for early site entry and installation. All artists need to be in Black Rock City and ready to check in at the Artery no later than 9:00 am on Saturday, August 25.

For inspiration regarding the theme, see the 2019 theme announcement.

The Man Pavilion Structure

The Man Pavilion structure platform sits approximately 22 feet from the ground. We expect the interior clear height to be at least 18 feet. The structure is made up of a series of arched faces. We anticipate a rig point for performances inside each of the arches, so the arch will frame the performer from the outside. 

We haven’t worked out access to or location of rigging points quite yet, but we’ll provide a way to connect your performance devices to our rigging points. 

For aerial dance, the legs of the structure will be danceable surfaces. Each face of the leg is approximately 41 inches wide at the widest point and approximately 24 inches wide at its most narrow point. The two faces of the legs come together at a seam and give an overall dimension of 81 inches wide near the top tapering to no less than 48 inches wide at the ground. The legs extend from the level of the platform at approximately 22 feet off the ground, down to the height of seating elements at the foot of each leg. 

Seating elements (not shown in grey model) are approximately 24 inches tall as measured from the ground. There will be an approximately 24-inch-tall parapet wall on the platform between 12 and 24 inches inboard from the edge of the platform. The rigging point for this feature is TBD, based on consults with performance riggers. The call out for 15 feet 6 inches is where the leg achieves its maximum width along its taper. It is possible that these dimensions will increase, but they will not be smaller than described here. 

Lighting and Sound

The Man Pavilion Lighting and Sound team will provide a wash of light to the performance spaces. This does not include movable or trackable spotlights. The areas we anticipate washing with light are: 

  • Directly under the rigging points below the deck for performances to be framed by the arches. We expect to cover 3 feet from the centerline of the rigging point and from 16 feet to 4 feet vertically.
  • The exterior faces of the legs so that performers will be lit in the 8 feet of space perpendicular to the surface of the leg. We expect lighting from below and are looking into options to provide lighting from above as well. We expect to wash the entire leg with lighting for performers, from the deck level to the foot of the leg.

For the lighting scheme within the Pavilion space, we anticipate utilizing primarily cool tones of purple and blue in neon, and warm, clean light from the cocoon. We anticipate the performance wash lighting to be in tones of amber and rose.

A sound system will be available for your public domain music selections or music that you can show you own the rights to. The performance manager may request your music in advance. 



  • The Man Pavilion opens on Sunday, August 25 at 6 pm. We anticipate an opening ceremony that evening with performers. It is our intention that all selected performers selected to perform through-out the week will showcase excerpts during the opening ceremony. Details TBD over the next several months.
  • The regular schedule of performance windows are planned to be 10 am and 10 pm from Monday to Friday of event week. Each performance window will be filled with performances up to a total of 60 minutes. Performances should be between 20 and 40 minutes long each (although we will consider pieces that deviate slightly below or between those times). Performers should indicate the total number of shows they are willing to do.

Other Stuff That Might Be Useful to Know

  • Burning Man will provide a Performance Coordinator to assist with your performance needs and show-time technical aspects, along with a house rigger to familiarize you with our connection points. We are recruiting experienced performance coordinators in the coming months. If you have experience and are interested in participating in this way, please email your resume to
  • You will be responsible for providing your own apparatus below the rigging point. We do not have storage available for your devices on site, so they will need to come with you for each performance. We additionally do not have a ‘green room’ available, so please consider costuming you can wear to the site.
  • We anticipate doing technical show rehearsals either Saturday night or Sunday morning prior to gates opening. This is your opportunity to practice in the space. The exact timing of these sessions is not known at this early stage. Rehearsals will occur while the site is still closed to participants, so non-essential troupe members will not be allowed.
  • Fire art is not allowed within the Man Pavilion structure.

Contracts and Plans 

Burning Man Project will contract and coordinate the selected performers or performer groups. The selected performers will need to participate in show planning meetings as required, with the majority of these occurring in late July and August. 

Q & A

Q1:  Will multiple points be accessible during the performance, or just one? If more than one, how many would be available? 

A1: Multiple points will be available. Please tell us in your application how many you need and their proximity to each other, and we’ll do our best to accommodate your request. 

Q2: Is there the possibility for dynamic {lifting} points?

A2: Yes, this is a possibility. Please specify your desire for one or more in your application. 

Q3: Will I need to provide proof of insurance or list Burning Man Project on the insurance? If so, how much?

A3: No, not required

Q4: Will all aerial apparatus be welcome (as long as we bring it)? We have non-traditional equipment.

A4: Absolutely, yes, we’d love to hear about it. Tell us details in your application. 

Q5: Are you looking for individual / duo acts, or are you aiming for a partial or feature-length show with multiple parts? 

A5: Absolutely open to individuals, duos and groups — all welcome.  We are looking for ‘acts’, which can mean a ‘show’. But remember the setting and the duration maximum preferred is 40 minutes. Absolute maximum is 60 minutes.

Q6: What is the working height for aerial acts (for instance, aerial hoop)?

A6: We expect the rigging point will be approximately 18’ off the playa. There may be an opportunity to rig closer to 22’ off the playa. Please describe what you need in your application. 

Q7: Will individual performers be grouped to create a comprehensive performance?

A7: Yes, there will be thought given to the composition of performance pieces from multiple groups.

Q8: Is the artist responsible for the whole idea of the performance (music, costume, idea, and etc.)? Or will aerial artists be matched with someone who will help fit the performance to the overall idea?  

A8: Yes, your personal expression — whether it’s individual, duet or group — is what we are seeking. We cannot respond to lighting requests other than an ambient wash that is bright enough to light you, and we will provide a music playback system.

Q9: Performances are 20-40 minutes in length, which means the same aerialists couldn’t do the whole time. So if you are applying as a solo performer, would you need a performance that is 20 minutes and includes time on the ground? And if applying as a group, could our performers take turns switching between ground and air throughout that time? 

A9: It’s okay to submit shorter solo pieces and pieces with multiple performers. It’s also okay to use the ground if it’s an integral part of performing the piece.

Q10: What is the overall image?

 A10: The vision for the show is a series of acts to perform around the structure. Acts can be individuals, pairs, trios or whole troupes. We can accommodate performers in each of the six arches, and they could be simultaneous or staggered in time, depending on who applies and what they want to do. Someone on our team will curate and schedule the acts into an overall show.

Q11: In a single show, do you want one entertainer per arch? 

A11: We’re going to select from what we get, so in a perfect world, sure. But in reality, we’re fine with the idea that an hour-long show might be six different 10-minute performances, one on each arch and staggered.

Q12: Do you anticipate multiple shows running in different arches at the same time?  

A12: No, if multiple arches are in use at the same time, we’d expect those performers to be part of the same troupe and that they’d be doing something complementary to each other in terms of music. 

Q13: Do you intend for each performer to have their own music isolated? 

A13: No way to isolate music in the space, see above.

Q14: Do you really expect 20 ACTIVE minute works from single artists or a more hang-about style?  

A14: We’re open to you defining what you can do. We’ll schedule accordingly. 

Q15: Will people be walking in and out through the arches during the performance?

A15: No.

Q16: How many arches are available per company? 

A16: Up to six. Specify what you would like to use in your proposal. In addition, there may be performers on the outside of the legs. 

Q17:  What is the horizontal distance between the legs (i.e. what is the width of each arch); and how many points can each of these arches accommodate?

A17: The distances between the legs varies depending on height. At three feet below the highest point of the arch, the arch is 12’4” wide. We are open to installing as many points as are reasonable and needed. Please tell us what you’d like to have access to and why.

Q18: Is there an expectation that one troupe would utilize the space under all arches, or could they use multiple points below one arch, and leave the other arches free (empty or for other troupes to use)?

A18: We will craft the show with performers utilizing the space in different ways. If one troupe proposes to use the entire space, they may be given all of the space at a particular point during one show. Or alternatively, we would have multiple troupes in different arches at the same time (depending on music and flow). It really depends on what people propose, so tell us what you envision. We will attempt to support you doing it your way as much as possible. 

Q19: For dynamic/lifting points, would we be responsible for bringing pulleys and ropes for this, as well as supplying crew to raise and lower the apparatuses/performers, or would a motorized winch be provided? If the former, is there a tying off point for the rope, or would the crew need to hold the performer aloft for the duration of their performance?

A19: We expect to provide all materials above the apparatus connection point. We will have a rigger available for the shows.

Project Timeline

Proposals are due on April 15 at 11:59 pm Pacific Time, and we anticipate making a decision in early May. Once we have selected the proposals, we will issue a contract and begin work on nailing down installation plans.

Rehearsals will occur no earlier than Saturday, August 24 and no later than the afternoon of Sunday, August 25. 

The Man Pavilion opens on Sunday, August 25. Performances will occur between Sunday, August 25 and Friday, August 30. 

Evaluation and Award Process

The team that will review your submission will include Kim Cook, Director of Arts & Civic Engagement, Crimson Rose, co-founder and performer, Justin Katz, Associate Producer, Community Events along with members of the Man Pavilion project team. 

The creative team will evaluate submissions based on visual appeal, troupe or performer experience and fit within the Pavilion. We are particularly excited to identify and showcase the work of a wide range of expressions related to aerial and performance work.

Submission Details

The proposal form includes a range of questions about your basic contact information and details of your experience and performance. You may submit more than one performance suggestion via multiple submissions. Please submit your proposal here.

Top photo by Jamen Percy

About the author: Burning Man Project

Burning Man Project

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