Dancers are using new media to get closer to audiences.
Social media maven: NYCB’s Megan Fairchild. Photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy NYCB.
In a world of online over-sharing, it may not come as a surprise that dancers are using visual platforms like Instagram for personal expression. But some are turning to even more intimate forms of media like Viber chats, vlogs and Periscope live streams to give audiences an honest look into their lives. In many cases, social networking is the first step toward attracting fans and marketing their skills.
Helping young dancers is the primary goal of New York City Ballet principal Megan Fairchild’s weekly “Ask Megan” series on the Balancing Pointe podcast, in which she talks about everything from leaving home for the School of American Ballet to how she prepares her pointe shoes. Fairchild also participates in “A Ballerina’s Life,” a live public chat on Viber. Through the app, users can follow a conversation between Fairchild and Sara Mearns, Ashley Bouder and Stella Abrera, among other dancers. “This world is confusing and stressful, and I want to dispel ideas that in dance you’ve got to deal with a life of drama,” she says. “I like letting people see us as regular people—that after a long day we need a glass of wine and talk about stuff other than ballet.”
Barry Kerollis, a former Pacific Northwest Ballet corps member, has a similar goal. His blog, Life of a Freelance Dancer, candidly recounts the ups and downs of his current career as a freelance dancer and choreographer in Philadelphia. Since 2012, he’s penned more than 140 posts on topics such as doing taxes, life on tour and auditioning. Most of his 100,000-plus views have come from dancers themselves. He also has an online video series, “Core-ography,” in which a dancer shares a personal experience on film, and then creates a piece inspired by the story with Kerollis. “Pennsylvania Ballet’s Lauren Fadeley was my first Core-Artist,” says Kerollis. “She talked about suffering from clinical depression. She was nervous to share, but ultimately found it liberating because she didn’t have to hide anymore.” In another episode, a dancer talks about his struggle with drug use. “I hope this series can be helpful to others who may be in similar situations,” he says.
Through these platforms, Kerollis has bolstered his social media following. But he’s seen more tangible benefits, too. The blog gave him a product to show while he was raising money for “Core-ography.” And talking about being a freelance choreographer has actually helped him book more dancemaking gigs—employers can watch videos and familiarize themselves with his work ethic and personality.
It's not often that a dance video provokes bona fide cackling in our office, but this new episode of BroadwayWorld TV's improv-based series "Turning the Tables" is just too real. For this episode, seven Broadway pros were invited to a mock dance call. With series regulars Ellyn Marie Marsh, Andrew Briedis, Andrew Chappelle and Julia Mattison running the "audition," disaster and hilarity (mostly hilarity) ensue.
First of all, it's amazing to see Broadway dancers like Neil Haskell, Eloise Kropp and Samantha Sturm try to keep straight faces with the amount of deadpan shenanigans happening at the front of the room. And if you've ever been to a Broadway dance call, you're going to be struck by just how on point the jokes are. Plus, it's just really, really funny.
Watch now. Thank us later.
"I don't cook for just one or two people," says James Whiteside, stirring a pot on his stove. "My mom taught me to cook and she had five kids. So when I do cook, I go in!"
Aside from breakfast (usually bacon, egg and cheese on an English muffin), the American Ballet Theatre principal rarely cooks for himself during ABT's seasons. He prefers to "forage" for his lunch and go out or order in for dinner, saving the real cooking for when he has friends or colleagues to feed. "I like to have a lot of people tell me my food is delicious," he quips.
We're not sure what we did to deserve the livestream generosity the dance world is giving us these days, but this weekend, it's getting even better.
PC Joe Toreno
L.A. Dance Project, Benjamin Milliepied's trendsetting contemporary troupe, has been in residence at The Chinati Foundation for the past few days. This weekend, they're showing us what they've come up with—for three days straight.
To create great work, choreographers need the freedom to tackle difficult subjects and push physical limits. But when your instruments are human beings, is there a limit to how far you should go? Five choreographers open up about where they draw the line.
Restaurants have always been a great source of survival gigs for dancers. But today's top chefs aren't just looking for waiters to carry dishes to the table. They're hiring choreographers to give the staff dance-like skills and compose a sort of choreography for the dining room.
Leslie Scott, artistic director of dance theater company BODYART, is one of those choreographers. After working in more typical food industry jobs for 10 years, she's been tapped by top restaurants in both New York City and Los Angeles to lead workshops that finesse servers' non-verbal communication and navigation of tight spaces.
Back in 2002, dancer and choreographer Jonah Bokaer founded an art space in Brooklyn called Chez Bushwick. As Manhattan and Brooklyn were quickly becoming unaffordable, and many studio spaces were closing, Bokaer seized upon "creative placemaking"—the idea that the arts can play an integral role in community-building—before it became a buzzword. "We have been sustaining and maintaining one of the most affordable dance studios in New York State since the very beginning of my career," he says.
Fifteen years later, the challenges for choreographers in expensive urban centers continue unabated, and Bokaer has found his original mission magnified. While Chez Bushwick remains a haven for the next generation, there is also a growing number of young dancemakers who have been inspired to create their own residencies, communities and, ultimately, opportunities.