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.
Capezio, Bloch, So Dança, Gaynor Minden.
At the top of the line, dancers have plenty of quality footwear options to choose from, and in most metropolitan areas, stores to go try them on. But for many of North America's most economically disadvantaged dance students, there has often been just one option for purchasing footwear in person: Payless ShoeSource.
When Sonya Tayeh saw Moulin Rouge! for the first time, on opening night at a movie theater in Detroit, she remembers not only being inspired by the story, but noticing the way it was filmed.
"What struck me the most was the pace, and the erratic feeling it had," she says. The camera's quick shifts and angles reminded her of bodies in motion. "I was like, 'What is this movie? This is so insane and marvelous and excessive,' " she says. "And excessive is I think how I approach dance. I enjoy the challenge of swiftness, and the pushing of the body. I love piling on a lot of vocabulary and seeing what comes out."
Back when Robbie Fairchild graced the cover of the May 2018 issue of Dance Magazine, he mentioned an idea for a short dance film he was toying around with. That idea has now come to fruition: In This Life, starring Fairchild and directed by dance filmmaker Bat-Sheva Guez, is being screened at this year's Dance on Camera Festival.
While the film itself covers heavy material—specifically, how we deal with grief and loss—the making of it was anything but: "It was really weird to have so much fun filming a piece about grief!" Fairchild laughs. We caught up with him, Guez and Christopher Wheeldon (one of In This Life's five choreographers) to find out what went into creating the 11-minute short film.
When Hollywood needs to build a fantasy world populated with extraordinary creatures, they call Terry Notary.
The former gymnast and circus performer got his start in film in 2000 when Ron Howard asked him to teach the actors how to move like Whos for How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Notary has since served as a movement choreographer, stunt coordinator and performer via motion capture technology for everything from the Planet of the Apes series to The Hobbit trilogy, Avatar, Avengers: Endgame and this summer's The Lion King.
Since opening the Industry Dance Academy with his wife, Rhonda, and partners Maia and Richard Suckle, Notary also offers movement workshops for actors in Los Angeles.