There are many ways onto (and off of) the stage. Working in the performing arts means many things to many people; and our jobs can get pretty strange regardless of what sector of the business you are in. Performing in itself is weird career, because going to school for it simultaneously is and is not essential, there is constant change and inconsistency, and no one career looks the same as another. My understanding thus far is being an opera singer is an exercise in both being and not being; we are consistently at odds with opposing energies. We must live as both the extravagant, energetic extrovert and the reserved, hermit introvert. It's not impossible, it is just strange to be the product of your own production.
I really feel like I snuck into the COC through the back door. Don't get me wrong, I am immensely grateful to be working full-time in my craft (a truly rare gift), but in a few years I could very possibly be right back where I started when I first moved to Toronto. It's important to remember that this field is unstable, and you, the artist, are constant. This boils down to focusing on what's within your power. It is very easy to feel helpless, overwhelmed, victimized, and that you are without choices in the early stages of this career. I have increased my practice of meditation and mindfulness, honing in on my act of noticing. The better able I am at gathering my focus and keenly observing, the better I may be at taking time and space to respond. This also keenly sharpens my ability to discover what my needs and wants are.
I think it's important to remember that this field is unstable and ever-changing, and you, the individual artist, are constant. Focusing on what is within your power is a way to gain control over the uneasiness that instability brings. Meditation and mindfulness practices have aided me immensely in becoming stable against the odds of instability. I also believes it makes us stronger and more resilient, flexible people. It is very easy to feel helpless, overwhelmed, and victimized; as though we are without choices, especially in the early stages of this career. It's as though when I was younger I got my information through the grapevine; this singer went here and studied with this person then did this young artist program... If it worked for them it will work for me, right? I still feel that I collect career information this way. Many people are eager to give you advice, or it is easy to skim the highlight reels of someone's success and surmise that they have got it all figured out.
There is not only one way to do things-it might seem like there is only one way, but we are aware of public success by people supported by larger companies, so their stories are more easily accessible. Reach out to your support system, your colleagues and the people in the business, and other creative fields. We must try our darnedest not be bitter, that's the easy choice.
We must keep in mind what we as individual artists are offering to a potential employer, as well as what's being offered to you. What are you getting? What are you giving? I employ this in my life inside and outside of the opera house. However it may seem, there is definitely not only one way to do things. We are aware of public success by people supported by larger companies, so their stories are more easily accessible. Failure and stagnation isn't good for business, but man oh man, it is a big slice of this life!
If you're feeling lost in the cacophony, I think one answer is to reach out and don't be bitter, that's the easy choice. Call me a foolish optimist, but I believe if you stay on the path, everyone gets a turn. There is something in your way and it is YOUR responsibility to remove it or get around it and yet you STILL may not be enough for some people, there are many reasons why someone gets something and you don't-- why stress yourself out about things that you can't control?
Being a Si...
November 14, 2017
For performing artists, the question "What do you do for a living?" truly resists simplicity. You get bonus points if the follow up questions are eith...