Ulrike Storch: Let Me Educate You
Passing her down the street, you would never have thought that Ulrike Storch was a foot juggler posing as Marlene Dietrich. The same way that you would not have recognized her at the bar even if she had just come off stage. Not until a month ago, when she decided to take the wig off, proudly showcase her glasses, and get over her fear of talking to an audience. Faced with the “sink or swim reality” when each and every show started shutting down, the Godarts circus school’s graduate decided to use her business skills and passion for education… To help others from sinking!
Much like her interest in business, “Let me educate you” came out of frustration, which is the self-proclaimed nerd’s first piece of advice: “Look for what pisses you off if you don’t know what you’re impassioned about. It’s a pretty good indicator of what matters to you!”
Back in her circus school days, it was the absence of business-related classes and the total lack of interest that her classmates and coaches had for it. Years later, this idea that art cannot generate money and the poor artist’s cliché struck a nerve and inspired her to prove people wrong by teaching them how to become better businesspeople… If only to keep them inspired during a major industry shut down!
A year in both performer and producer’s shoes in London’s weekend show “Legends” gave the ambitious woman a better grip of the off-stage reality and improved her communication skills as she now feels fluent in both languages. This new-found bilingualism and, most importantly, this crisis that hit the world switched something on in her core.
Inhabited by a deep desire to give hope to the community and share knowledge with whoever would listen, she started filming tutorial videos from the comfort of her flat. If her website building, marketing, and copyrights skills would allow her to maneuver herself quickly and be proactive, all those artists wondering how to bounce back could do it too!
“Ironically, we all have experience in this area. Every performer ends up doing a lot of business-related tasks on a regular basis. I’ll often say that anyone who has learned to build muscles to get through some trapeze tricks can learn to build a website and a strong email list. Any artist who gets that we are not detached from marketing, that it also is an important part of performing can become a good business person.”
The 34 year old then addresses a myth by killing it right away: NO, money is NOT a factor! Next to her growing website, the Internet is filled with tons of other free tools and resources. If Google and YouTube can practically teach anything to anyone nowadays, other websites like Wix are very user-friendly and provide artists with the necessary starting kit for a great website. Pricier things like domain names or an online shop can wait.
As for the ever-growing variety of social platforms and websites where one can share and publish their image, Ulrike discourages artists to be on all of them and highly recommends sticking to those they can produce purposeful content for. They must first determine the purpose of each to know which one brings them more clients. Instagram may be a lot of fun and generate tons of online affection, but it is far more about fandom than actual contracts. In one quick answer, the businesswoman simply suggests having a look at what got you the most work over the last year: that is where time shall be invested.
“I also feel that there is a drastic change coming from social media. There will be more restrictions and stricter content policies. No one but you controls and owns your website’s content and no algorithms will change that!”
The importance of a website and a contact list, her most important piece of advice, is something that the foot juggler can’t underline enough. As obvious as it might sound, promotion is where most energy should be invested once an act has been created. That means using a website, pictures, video, resumé, and bio entries to be seen in the best of ways. Again, money is NOT an issue she’ll add with a somewhat tense smile. Reaching out to a relative or a friend who is great at writing, shooting or with design won’t cost much. Images must be clear and appeal to whom one aspires to work with.
Up next, also free of cost, is this email list, and the sooner the better! It is NOT some random spreadsheet, more like a strong circle of friends that one wants to serve and stay in touch with. From a new act to upcoming appearances and travels to good business locations, all reasons are good to reach out and share the latest news! “With care, clear images, and the right words, of course,” Ulrike whispers under her breath.
Fresh out of school or already onstage, the idea remains the same: be as unique as possible! As fun as being a chameleon who keeps on changing acts and tricks might sound, nobody can be in all shows and perform on every stage. Therefore, artists need to find out who they really are and show it off! It might initially feel like it has nothing to do with who they are when it actually really does! This uniqueness is what will make those “tired old tricks” look fresh and new… If performed in a truly personal way!
“I’m not even trying to appeal to everyone. I’m really not and that’s fine, really. Appealing to your people, to the right ones, is far better than to the masses. Be as specific as possible with your performance and how you’re selling it. Know who your people are to appeal to them. Five really good, reliable people with whom you can invest in the long run is all you need.”
The birth of “let me educate you” goes hand in hand with the performer’s parting piece of advice, which is to be curious about other talents that one has. One can explore their other abilities by focusing on purpose-based things, which tend to make more sense than performing the same act endlessly without noticing what’s happening around. In this case, going from somewhat traditional foot juggling to portraying Marlene Dietrich, from performing to producing, and now to online masterclasses.
Worldwide artists’ positive response to her online tutorials has been overwhelming so far and the fact that this project turned out to be the answer to what she wanted to see grow into an eventual off-stage career made it all sweeter!
“Educating people would definitely be my path if I could no longer entertain them, hence my domain name! I can see this project grow, lead to proper masterclasses, and give me what I need to write a book on this topic. It really isn’t about making money for now, but let me keep on educating and we shall see…”