Want to Take Your Work Online the Right Way? 6 Tips From the Experts

December 21, 2020

Shelter-at-home mandates have resulted in an explosion of dance classes, open rehearsals and performances online. “What we’ve really seen is an awakening of audiences—an acceleration of a trend to digital consumption,” says Marc Kirshner, head of product and innovation at Marquee TV. “It may sound counterintuitive, but great digital experiences will lead to higher attendance for live events.”

It seems like an obvious moment to take one’s dance work digital, but how should dancemakers go about it, and what are potential unintended consequences?

Do: Consider how an online audience might differ

“Think about your audience. Consider the people that will access your work, how they might currently be feeling, and what kinds of work might best be suited for digital consumption.” —Ariane Michaud, independent producer and director of programming, DANCE NOW NYC

Do: Acknowledge it will take trial and error

“The best way to do it is to just get started! Find a way to teach your five friends if you’re nervous about the video thing. The first time you’ll be like, ‘Wait, is the camera facing right or left?’ You’ll get better as you try, the same as any teacher.” —Payal Kadakia, CEO, ClassPass

Do: Think before you post

“Find a balance. Putting something online is an act of giving and taking. Be respectful. Copyright these days seems almost a fictional construct as our materials can be easily captured, copied and distributed. This creates a beautiful, free flow of information and media, but, on the other hand, the danger of mindless and damaging sharing of things detrimental to our art form.” —Daniil Simkin, very online dancer and choreographer

Do: Meet your audience where it is

“I think it’s about being platform agnostic, and going to where your customers are. If your people are on Facebook Live, great. If they’re on Zoom, great.” —Payal Kadakia

“Continue to reach out to your audiences, and your network. Keep advocating for yourself and your work. Acknowledge struggles, successes and changes.” —Ariane Michaud

Do: Value what you have to offer

“There is a need to monetize, especially as artists or teachers. It’s not great for people to give away stuff for free. At the end of the day, if your class doesn’t work in real life, it won’t work online. Have a good product, which means have a good class.” —Payal Kadakia

Do: Remember that creating for the stage is different from creating for the screen

“Don’t pretend the art being created in this moment will resemble what is experienced in the theaters. If you are creating a new work, find good lighting. Take the time to create quality footage (even from an iPhone!) that will come across as personal and real.” —Ariane Michaud

“I encourage the dance community to see this as an opportunity to make work that is intended for this specific method of stay-at-home, online consumption. Take the time to learn what works best for you in these new circumstances.” —Maya Man, Google Creative Lab and one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch”