by Julia Wutte
2020, the year of success.
Who would have thought that 2020 is not THE year..? Not me. Speaking for myself, this would have been my most successful year so far. Dreams would have come true, years of hard work would have paid off. From struggling to thriving. I would have started to finally work with my dream Company Cirque du Soleil for a 7 month contract. 2 months in, it got canceled from one day to the other. My plan was to move to Las Vegas after in Fall 2020. That is definitely not going to happen either.
Social Media has been overflowed by 2020 motivation memes, future success stories were posted and great new years resolutions were shared.
A lot of my dear artist friends were finally about to make necessary steps towards living the artist life they always wanted to live, becoming the artist they always wanted to be. 2020,
as if two 2’s and two 0’s would be some magic formula for success and kicking our own fortunes butts.
That was clearly before our population got hit by a Virus.
2020 turned out to be the year we are struggling more than ever. Bye goals, hello new reality.
Gigs, contracts and life plans got cancelled. Countless talented and hard working artists are currently sitting at home without jobs, not able to do what they do best such as entertaining a cheering crowd and bringing joy to the grey everyday muggle life. When a global crisis hits the earth, apparently art is first to go. Arts attract a large crowd of people, crammed into small spaces. Jobs in general were cut and money is needed to support families rather than enjoying live entertainment. I truly cannot blame anyone for trying to save our population rather than watching Cabaret on Broadway. (no offense!)
WE DO UNDERSTAND THAT. Of course we do. But understanding that a pandemic is bigger than us living our dreams does not take away the impact of the struggle we are currently going through.
What does it actually mean to be an artist?
As artists we are highly sensitive human beings. We tend to live in a bubble sometimes, and choose to see the world from a different perspective. Our craft resonates around emotions, our own and our audiences. We are working to put our creative visions and feelings on paper, on stage, on tape or whatever else we can think of. We trigger joy or disgust, vulnerability or excitement. We are judged. Our deepest passion is judged. We go through the days with a mix of: „I don't care what everybody thinks of me, this is who I am“ and „Oh dear, what will they think of me“. It is so controversial, but so true.
Anxiety and a high level of internal stress is on the daily list of an artist. We learned how to manage these compulsive thoughts in our normal environment and day to day life. Worrying about jobs and money is familiar, even when we have opportunities to work. COVID-19 and isolation left us pretty lonely and mainly jobless. Having had conversations with other artists from different genres, shows that doubts and negative thoughts are peaking. We are very stressed and going through phases of extreme sadness. Our sensitive minds tend to be overwhelmed easily and during this time our mental health and wellbeing is heavily affected.
One thing that this pandemic forced us to learn is that we can clearly plan our lives only to a certain extent. The uncertainty of making accurate life plans seems like an illusion, due to our plans constantly changing.
„Change is the only constant in life“
A quote by Heraclitus a Greek philosopher heard many times lately and it is very suitable for our current situation. As soon as quarantine started, a wave of isolation positivity on Instagram hit us. „Stay home, heal, take time for yourself, create, work on new things“.
Sounds great at first, turns out to be extremely hard.
Having free time feels great, as long as you know when it’s supposed to end. Free time can cause stress and leaves us unfulfilled. Because guess what? WE LOVE TO WORK.
As performing artists we are longing to put our creativity on stage in front of an audience. We are craving a cheering encore, appreciation, audience members coming to us after a performance acknowledging your work. Our purpose is to share our talents and entertain. It is one of the most beautiful jobs in the world. Making people smile, gasp, escape reality for a while. Making people happy. Making ourselves happy.
So what now?
Not being able to do what we are so passionate about, leaves a void in our hearts and raises questions. Questions, we are terrified to find the answers to.
Is it time to quit now?
It’s a time of uncertainty and we don't know when it will come to an end. We don't know what will happen to the arts. That is something that triggers strong waves of anxiety within me, even just by writing it down. Not being able to do our jobs and sitting at home sucks and at a certain point we become severely worried about our existence. Fact is, that all of us are in the same boat.
It does not change a lot, it does not brighten our dark days, but it makes us feel genuinely understood. We are not really okay yet, but we will be.
We will make it work. We always do. We are used to the struggle anyway.
We will find ways to regain strength, power and motivation. Our creativity will feed from these learnings.
We are still writing down our goals, envision ourselves on big stages, seeing ourselves living our dreams again.
It will not be like this forever. All we can do now is find peace where we are at, don't live in the past and don't worry about the future. Finding even the smallest purpose everyday to keep going. What we are doing now is important. We are creating for an audience, even if there are not there to appreciate our art in person. The world needs us more than ever. I truly believe that. Because who does not want to smile, gasp and escape reality for a while.
Julia Katharina is an Austrian Dancer and Circus Artist. She started her career at the age of five competing and performing in Europe and the United States. At the age of 18, she started her work as a teacher, choreographer and creative director. Throughout the years of her Dance Career she discovered her passion for Circus Arts and traveled many parts of the world performing. In 2020 she reached her big goal and started to work for her Dream Company Cirque du Soleil which then got cut short because of Covid-19. She hopes that the contract will be resumed.