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How Can Dancers Use Social Media?
Do you use Instagram? Or Facebook? I’m sure you do because I definitely do! Social media is apart of all of our lives now, and we use it as a tool to promote and brand ourselves. Yes, brand ourselves. I recently attended a lecture by two designers Michael Rock and Michael Bierut, and they spoke about how everything and everyone has a brand now. Social media has made us consciously access who we are and what we put out there. Guess, who jumped or should I say leaped into my mind? —Dancers!
Social media can be such a powerful tool for us to use to promote ourselves. Even for me, as a newbie into the blogging world, I started to really consider for the first time that I am a brand. Now, are you asking yourself what does it mean to be a brand? I believe it means what makes you distinguishable and for lack of a better word unique. Image is important in cultivating a brand, but it goes a step further to incorporating a broader vision. For example, Nike is a well known athletic brand. Nike’s mission statement is “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. If you have a body, you are an athlete.” Nike wants to brand themselves as a company promoting human achievement not just promoting athletic wear.
What you put out on social media matters. It’s not your personal diary–that needs to be your journal. During the summer I was chosen to be apart of a special project with Matthew Rushing, rehearsal director and guest artist of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and the team for the film looked through our Facebook and Instagram accounts before they met us. So let me remind you, what you put out there matters.
Are you a brand? Should you be branding yourself?
How do you go about doing that?
Are photo shoots important?
These are all relevant and important questions. So I have asked 2 amazing dancers to help clarify some of these key concerns.
Kevin Tate, graduate of UNCSA; dancer with Abraham. In. Motion
TMR (The Mindful Rise)
TMR: Hi Kevin! So happy to have you answering questions for my audience. I know you have more than 3k followers on Instagram, how do you feel social media helps you and the present day dancer?
Kevin: I use it to my advantage. It’s exactly what it’s called “social media” it is a way to socialize, network and meet new people. Most importantly for self branding and marketing as a dancer, teacher & person. Social media has allowed me to create a following for myself in the dance world. Social media has gotten me gigs & teaching opportunities. It’s keeps me updated with what is relevant, I’ve even booked auditions via social media! It offers a plateau for me to allow people access to me and my interest. It’s quite brilliant and so universal!
TMR: Wow, that’s amazing. I love how you said it’s important for self branding and marketing. Social media has made us increasingly more aware of what we put out there and how we brand ourselves. Do you think dancers should brand themselves? And how so?
Kevin: I think self branding is important because it helps one create an image that represents the true YOU, the best ME!
Use self branding as a tool to orchestrate the way you want to be perceived. Share what you want people to know and for self sanity keep some things personal!
Specifically catering to dance; definitely! Everyone has social media: Companies, Casting Networks, Dance studios, Dance brands, its used as an avenue to gain revenue or popularity! It helps build “clientele”.
TMR: That is so true! And with it comes my final question, in order to promote yourself, you have to have pictures of yourself. I see you have lots of wonderful dance shots of yourself, so how does doing photo shoots help with self branding?
Kevin: Photo shoots are good for a dancer in general. It’s nice to have a plethora of professional quality photos to create a portfolio. In this generation dancers are also modeling. Many brands have dancers advertising their clothing and fitness wear and etc. The photos should represent you in your best self, highlighting strengths! Photos from live performances are also great, not only for self branding but for memories!!! Self branding is easy and can be accomplished with or without photos but if you are a frequent social media user like myself why not share art, share your experiences, share your costume fittings— add to the positivity of social media and bring awareness to Art!
Antuan Byers, senior in the Ailey/ Fordham BFA in dance program; dancer with the Metropolitan Opera and Aprentice with Ailey II
TMR: How have you used social media to create an artistic platform for yourself? Do you think this is important?
Antuan: I mostly work through Instagram, and I think Instagram is the biggest and easiest to do that with, and Facebook. I use
the features that they have to put myself out there. I use Instastories to give people a peek into my daily live. I have friends, family members, and supporters from all over the world watching my feed. It is intriguing as an aspiring dancer to see what it is like in the day of a professional dancer, especially those who are interested in going to The Ailey School because I am a Senior there as well. I did a Facebook live event, which went really well for my senior piece and it got over 700 views. Its a great way to get my work out there. I am really big on giving back, and sometimes dance can be inaccessible and seen as “high art.” At the Met, orchestra seats can be as high as $400, which is not possible for many people. So, I use social media to share my art in a global way. Its about building a community!
TMR: How does doing photo shoots help?
Antuan: I talk to a lot of dancers who want to do photo shoots, and I tell them to reach out to a friend who does photography. That is how I started, my friend and photographer, Alizah, and I collaborate a lot. Photo shoots help build my portfolio as a dance and fitness model. Its a great thing for the community because there are a lot of new photographers that want to work with dancers, and its an exchange. I get almost 5 photographers reaching out to me weekly, and many are working with brands or paying. Instagram is great now because you can create a career from it–we are called influencers. Brands are reaching out to show their products on my Instagram. The beautiful part is that for dancers finding income can be hard, but now we can find different way of supporting ourselves, and social media is a great way to do it.
TMR: You started to answer this in the first question because you stated you use social media to share your art globally and build a community, but what are you essentially trying to create using social media as an artistic platform?
Antuan: It is so much less about me, there is a woman I watch, Maya Washington, who has a youtube channel: Shameless Maya. She did an experiment where she shamelessly promoted herself for 365 days. She put herself out there on all platforms, and now she is hosting on the BET awards, and she has her own company. She has employees and interns all around her name, and what started which was all about her is now a source of income for lots of people. You can truly get yourself out there in a way that could never be seen before, for now social media is national and global. When you’re on tour, people who follow you on Instagram will come out to the theater and see dance. I also have a website, which is growing. Studios reach out to me from my website to teach or do a master class. You can build yourself on Instagram, and then make it practical.
I hope after reading these two interviews dancers, or truly anybody, realizes the power social media can have in creating more opportunities for yourself. I ultimately want to share that as young people in this day and age we can create opportunities for ourselves. There are countless mediums in which we can create a platform to express our passions and make a living from it. For dancers, I think photo shoots are an amazing way to create a portfolio for yourself on Instagram. Photo shoots are so much more accessible now, and you don’t have to pay the big bucks anymore to have amazing shots. Don’t get me wrong, I know we all would love to shoot with Rachel Neville, but you can start with a friend first! I promise the shots will still come out beautiful.
Today, I am highlighting social media, but the internet as a whole is an extremely powerful tool. But, it can also be used against you if you publish content that does not show you in the best light. Be aware and mindful (isn’t that the keyword of my website) of what you publish on social media, it can help you or bite you in the butt!