When it comes to living as a performer or working in arts industries, we have to learn to adapt and move with the times whilst still maintaining a strong connection with one another. In this post we will be discussing how the last year has impacted some of the artists that have performed in Jazz Before Christmas in the years gone by. Check out the links at the bottom of this post to get connected!
With 2021 now well under way, we at Aerial Art House are looking forward to the day when we can open our doors once again. We really miss hosting our classes and events, and seeing friendly faces each week to share in the joy of circus training. Following government safety guidelines, our usual Christmas fundraiser show, Jazz Before Christmas, sadly had to be cancelled. For the first time since 2017 our studio was silent in December, and we all missed seeing the centre transformed into a space of amazing artistry and magic. The capturing sounds of brilliant live music, the chance to see spectacular performances and watch awe-inspiring visual art filling the studio has made it a truly remarkable event for many years. It is an event that started with only eight artists performing, and has since grown year upon year to become a full-length show for both students and professionals. Aerial Art House’s founder Hania Chwiałkowska would like to thank everyone who has attended or performed in previous Jazz Before Christmas events and hopes that this year brings more opportunity to connect and keep creating. Hania and the team are not giving up and have been working on new projects behind the scenes. We look forward to sharing more circus art opportunities with you and continue to help the community improve their mental and physical health as soon as possible.
Our circus family is a global community spread across the world, brought together by a love of circus art and entertaining. Experienced performer Lauren Jamieson, who appeared on the Jazz Before Christmas stage in both 2018 and 2019, describes the last year as ‘an overwhelming emotional rollercoaster full of discovery’ and now finds herself unexpectedly living in New Zealand after travelling there pre-lockdown in March 2020. Despite this change in direction, Lauren continues to create and work within unusual styles of performance by getting involved in the New Zealand creative scene. Not only this but Lauren is still remotely running Scotland’s Sonder Circus alongside the company’s other co-founders back in the UK. Sonder Circus have ambitions to pave the way in showcasing art in this new world, and are currently developing their new show Cailleach. Even more excitingly, Lauren has recently begun to create and sell her own jewellery and is available for online lessons in straps and ropes.
Long time abstract juggler and performer Liam Wilson took to our stage in 2019 to showcase his talents and has found the last year to be a good time to appreciate his personal relationship with movement and juggling more closely. He tells us how he began only as a hobbyist ‘with no intention of becoming a performer’ which has helped him to realise that even without an audience, his passion has ‘a strong core which is not threatened by these difficult circumstances’. Time outside of the studio has given him time to improvise and explore new material to integrate into his solo performances.
Whilst solo work makes keeping up some types of practice easier, other types of performance acts have been seriously impacted. Acrobat and physical performer Daniel Samohvalov and his acrobatic partner Aimee, with whom he performed with back in 2019, have been unable to practice or perform a routine together with social distancing guidelines in place. Instead, Daniel’s attention has turned to new hobbies and a drive to help his friend Miriam Wolanski to save the future of live events and the careers of those affected by a lack of live performance, with the campaign #ResurrectLiveEvents, and encourages anyone interested in the cause to get involved.
Fitness is fundamental for performers and irregular gym usage has had its impact on professionals and students. A lack of regular training has meant a struggle to maintain strength and peak fitness, and this has been a problem faced by many performers. As Rosella Elphinstone points out, the performance industry relies on achieving success early on and a lack of opportunity to train or perform can make it feel like time has been ‘limited or wasted’ over the last year. Rosella, who has been performing for over ten years in many different skills, has had to adapt to training without access to a studio. A lack of shows allows for personal development, and an opportunity to develop a particular style and create new performances for when live performance is allowed once again.
Like so many of us, the challenge to maintain motivation and see a clear creative direction has led to performers taking a break from performing art. A current lack of live audience shows has led Robert Gallagher-Lyall to speak fondly of his previous experience of performing in the last two Jazz Before Christmas shows at the Aerial Art House studio, describing how the space ‘creates an amazingly warm and intimate’ environment. Usually a ‘dynamic, expressive and surprising’ performer of ball juggling and clown art, Bob has performed with a number of different troupes across Scotland including PyroCeltica. For now he has turned his talents from live audiences to digital ones through Cascade Juggling’s Instagram platform which posts sketches and collaborative video projects. Similarly, despite losing gigs and engagements in the last year, musician Chris Lyons has continued to make new content and release new music to online listeners. Proving that even in these circumstances, the show must go on!
Our director Hania sends out a heartfelt message to all the performers and students who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions. She says, ‘As a founder of AAH as well as mum, circus coach and performer I need to tell everyone not to lose hope and motivation. I know that it is not easy, but one day we will have the power to explain to our future audiences how we survived the lockdown on not just material level, but also emotional and physical levels. We artists have the power to get through it and we cannot give up because in the future the world will need art to heal from the effects of the pandemic. I truly want to help everyone, but I need to follow government guidelines. My personal message to all of you is to not give up, and to remind you that we will have another chance to play, climb and fly again. One day we will enjoy training and laughing together again!’
Online classes hosted by AAH instructors, including Hania and her daughter Kaya, are available for adults, parents and children. All classes can be booked here. Kaya, alongside her sister Luna, are also previous Jazz Before Christmas performers as well as Aerial Art House students and teaching assistants. They encourage younger performers and friends to not give up and keep training. Currently, Hania and Kaya are working on an acro-contortion act and look forward to sharing it with an audience.
If you have any queries for Aerial Art House please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with us on Facebook or Instagram. If you’re interested in following up on any of the different performers, organisations or groups mentioned here, check out the links below.
Sonder Circus on Facebook
@sondercircus on Instagram
Lauren Jamieson Jewellery:
@laurenjamiesonjewellery on Instagram
Read more about it here
@theaerialangel on Instagram
@cascadejuggling on Instagram
@PyroCeltica on Instagram
@chrismusicplanet on Instagram