Career Advice

These Dancers Prove There's No One Right Way to Do Social Media

Alex Wong. Photo by Dan Freeman, courtesy Wong

When Instagram launched in 2010, few would have predicted it would become the identity-defining, I-can-make-a-living-off-this-thing behemoth that it is today. For dancers in particular, Instagram comes with a host of possibilities. Three dancers share how they translate double taps into career advancements—while thousands of people follow along.


Alice Klock

What she posts: Klock first joined Instagram to share her paintings, which she sells. A few years ago, she also started posting clips of her choreography for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and other companies. "I never wanted it to become an egotistical, surface-level thing. I wanted it to be about the work," says Klock, now co-director of FLOCK.

Why she's posting: "We have this whole idea that you can only see dance if you buy a ticket and go to a theater and have money," she says. "It feels limited. Instagram is a great way to share with everyone, and I feel the point of art is to give it to the people." She's received requests from followers to create custom tattoos based on her visual-art work.

The strategy: Klock posts almost every day, which helps her stay in her followers' feeds. "I never go out and construct my next post," she says. "It's always what I'm up to at that time."

Most-viewed post: A short solo from February has more than 32K views.

Alex Wong

What he posts: Imagine you're walking down a New York City street when suddenly a super-athletic, super-unassuming passerby erupts into a series of grands jetés and then continues down the crosswalk, unfazed. That's Alex Wong. His delightful "spontaneous acts of dance" videos are equal parts impressive and hilarious.

Why he's posting: "It all started with comedy-slash-dance videos, and the reactions were so great that it just snowballed."

The strategy: Though Wong's videos are polished, they're not rehearsed. "It's more spur-of-the-moment," he says. "As much as I love Instagram, I try not to let it consume my life." Wong has made some money off his account, through campaigns for Walmart, LG, Kenneth Cole, Pandora, Volvo and Under Armour. But it's also grown his personal brand. "It's a live business card."

Most-viewed post: "The one with me walking across the street in pointe shoes." It has more than 1.9M views.

What she posts: Grace's two accounts have very different purposes: Her @marleegrace profile shares her personal projects, and is more business-minded, while her @personalpractice feed is a series of daily improv videos.

Why she's posting: The @personalpractice account started as a video documentation process and transitioned into a daily practice while Grace went through a divorce, came out and started dating women. "The goal has always only ever been for me," she says. "It's an accountability process, but it's also my little playground." Meanwhile, she uses @marleegrace to talk about her work and promote her books or upcoming classes. "It's a promotional tool where I share vulnerably about my experiences as a queer person, as a woman, an artist, a teacher."

The strategy: While Grace balances self-promotion and creative work, she isn't trying to appease anyone. Her growth happened organically and fast, she says, and in large part because she kept her posts honest.

Most-viewed post: An Instagram story of Grace dancing in a cabin in California, rocking out to Sheryl Crow in a white T-shirt and a leotard. "I'm barely even dancing," she says, but it earned more than 94K views.

In Memoriam
A flyer showing Alberto Alonso, Fernando Alonso, Benjamin Steinberg and Alicia Alonso. Photo courtesy the author

Alicia has died. I walked around my apartment feeling her spirit, but knowing something had changed utterly.

My father, the late conductor Benjamin Steinberg, was the first music director of the Ballet de Cuba, as it was called then. I grew up in Vedado on la Calle 1ra y doce in a building called Vista al Mar. My family lived there from 1959 to 1963. My days were filled with watching Alicia teach class, rehearse and dance. She was everything: hilarious, serious, dramatic, passionate and elegiac. You lost yourself and found yourself when you loved her.

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Left: Hurricane Harvey damage in Houston Ballet's Dance Lab; Courtesy Harlequin. Right: The Dance Lab pre-Harvey; Nic Lehoux, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

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In 2017, as a result of a growing list of letters from audience members, to New York City Ballet's ballet master in chief Peter Martins reached out to us asking for assistance on how to modify the elements of Chinese caricature in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker. Following that conversation, we founded the Final Bow for Yellowface pledge that states, "I love ballet as an art form, and acknowledge that to achieve a diversity amongst our artists, audiences, donors, students, volunteers, and staff, I am committed to eliminating outdated and offensive stereotypes of Asians (Yellowface) on our stages."

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Allegra Bautista in Nevertheless, by ka·nei·see | collective. Photo by Robbie Sweeny

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"I got angry when I saw that email, wrote my angry response, deleted it, and then went back and explained to him that that's exactly why I should be making those works," says Peugh.

With the current political climate as polarized as it is, many artists today feel compelled to use their work to speak out on issues they care deeply about. But touring with a message is not for the faint of heart. From considerations about how to market the work to concerns about safety, touring to cities where, in general, that message may not be so welcome, requires companies to figure out how they'll respond to opposition.

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