5 Self-Promotion Mistakes You Should Never Make
From dancers to presenters to directors, no one in dance is exempt from the task of building an audience. But keeping up with email, social media and other marketing efforts can chip away at precious time spent honing your craft. Add in the fear of coming across as vain or self-absorbed, and it can be hard to know how to begin.
Mistake: Posting Too Often
For artists used to giving 100 percent, it can take time to learn a more measured approach. "Know when to take a break and let it settle," says Maleek Washington, a performer formerly with Abraham.In.Motion and Sleep No More. "If you have a good product, you don't have to push it so much." But, he adds, there's no substitute for time spent networking offline. "If you support other artists by going to see their work, they'll support you back. Make yourself known, not just on screen, but also face-to-face."
Maleek Washington, Photo by Nomee Photography
Mistake: All Work and No Play
"People often put their work before their personalities," says Matthew Powell, creator of the instructional video Find Your Fifth. "I love to cook and go fishing. Sharing those things breaks up the 'Me! Me! Me!' aspect of what I'm doing professionally." Choreographer and marketing consultant Jamie Benson points out that the two aren't necessarily at odds: "Dancers think of branding as this ugly beast-monster, and it doesn't have to be. The more authentic you are, the more effective your outreach."
Mistake: Too Much Info
After pouring every ounce of yourself into your work, the boiled-down communication of good marketing can feel trivializing. "There is a tension between being immersed in the creative process, and then having to promote it," says Renata Sheppard, artistic director of Experimental Film Virginia. "You'll want to give so much background, and it's important to trust in peeling away and presenting what you're doing in its simplest form." Benson points out a mistake he sees all too often: taking language written for grant proposals and repurposing it for press releases, social media and marketing. "The more obtuse, vague and aspirational your copy is, the less it will matter to the people you want to reach. Engage people on an emotional level, and tell them what's in it for them."
Jamie Benson, Photo by Meghann Street
Mistake: Wasting Energy
Learn what's working. Nearly all social media platforms and communication tools offer analytics to gauge the effectiveness of your strategies. New methods aren't necessarily better than traditional ones, and even the biggest dance organizations don't have the capacity to utilize them all. "Don't think you have to have a presence on every channel," says Benson.
Mistake: Mindlessly Sharing Photos
You can never be too careful when it comes to imagery. Margaret Mullin, soloist at Pacific Northwest Ballet, admits to being "pretty neurotic" about what she shares with more than 7,200 Instagram followers. She's found that Repost for Instagram is least likely to crop photos awkwardly, or plaster unsightly banners on them—modifications likely to annoy the professional photographers who originated the posts she shares. She errs on the side of asking anyone in her photos for approval, always gives credit and is mindful of how her content and timing relates to PNB's own social media.
We knew that New York downtown dance darling Okwui Okpokwasili was a big deal. Critics and audiences have been raving about her dance-theater works for years, and the new documentary about her, Bronx Gothic, has attracted the attention of the larger arts community.
But never in our wildest dreams did we imagine she'd show up in a Jay Z video, along with flex dancer Storyboard P. Though we're slightly less surprised to see Storyboard in Jay Z's "4:44" video than we were to see Okpokwasili, we're jazzed that two of our favorites are featured on such a huge platform. (We're also feeling #blessed that we didn't have to subscribe to Tidal to watch this.)
Throughout the years, choreographer Seán Curran has worked with a diverse array of talented collaborators—from Kyrgyz music ensemble Ustatshakirt Plus to the the Grammy Award–winning King's Singers. But perhaps none are as meaningful as his most recent group of co-choreographers: At-risk teens from the after school program and nonprofit The Wooden Floor.
Curran has been in residence with The Wooden Floor since June, where he's worked with students to build choreography based on their lives and communities:
Their creation will be shown July 20-22 at The Wooden Floor Studio Theatre in Santa Ana, California.
"Besides the stage, baking is my other happy place," says New York City Ballet corps member Jenelle Manzi.
Four years ago, she thought her baking days were over when she was diagnosed with gluten intolerance. Manzi had been dealing with pain, frequent illness and joint inflammation for nearly 10 years. Once she cut out gluten, Manzi gradually started to feel better, noticing a transformation in how her body felt and functioned. She found her joints were less inflamed, and she got sick less often.
New York City Ballet soloist Unity Phelan and American Ballet Theatre soloist Cassandra Trenary spend every day making their hard work look effortless and graceful both in the studio and onstage. That's exactly what makes them the perfect spokesmodels for the dance-inspired activewear line, Belle Force.
To celebrate our 90th anniversary, we excavated some of our favorite hidden gems from the DM Archives—images that capture a few of the moments in time we've documented over the decades.
This image was captured during a 1978 New York City Ballet tour that took the company to Copenhagen—home turf for Adam Luders (right), who trained at the Royal Danish Ballet School and briefly danced with the company before joining NYCB as a principal dancer in 1975. Next to Luders is (of course) George Balanchine, in conversation with ballerina Suzanne Farrell. And looking on with a smile? NYCB's current ballet master in chief Peter Martins.
On March 8, 2016, Rami Shafi found himself inspired to film an impromptu dance video of his best friend, Aaron Moses Robin, improvising on Gay St. in New York City's Greenwich Village. Thus was born Pedestrian Wanderlust, a collection of dance videos that has grown to include a monthly improv jam.
Shafi works with anyone who wants to take part in the project, filming videos in locations chosen by the dancers and later adding music. The videos are shot on Shafi's iPhone in one take and, other than the starting and ending points, are entirely improvised. The editing afterwards—including the music choice—is minimal. "I don't like to edit too much. It's just what it is," says Shafi. "I usually can do the editing on the train ride home."
Many people see dance and choreography as separate pursuits, or view choreography as a dance career's second act. For some dancers, however, performing and choreographing inform one another. "That's just the kind of choreographer I am. I feel things so deeply in my physicality. I have to do it to know it," says Jodi Melnick, who is a prolific performer of her own work. She also maintains an active practice as a performer for other choreographers: Throughout her career, she's worked with Trisha Brown, Twyla Tharp, Tere O'Connor and Donna Uchizono, to name a few.
Though a dual career can be fulfilling, simultaneously inhabiting the roles of dancer and choreographer requires focus, organization and a great deal of energy.