Why Social Media Campaigns Don't Always Lead to Ticket Sales
We've all been there: You see the craziest/most beautiful/oddest/wildest clip of a dance on Facebook and you simply have to see more.
But do you actually get yourself to the theater and sit through a 90-minute performance? The consensus, at this point, typically seems to be: No.
There is no clear correlation between a company's social media campaigns and how many seats they fill in the theater. That doesn't mean social media isn't, of course, vital. It simply means that "social media campaigns operating without other marketing campaigns don't cut it," says Rob Bailis, associate director of Cal Performances at UC Berkeley. "But campaigns without social media are far worse off."
Social Media Is Its Own Art Form
Part of the complication is that concert dance doesn't translate to video particularly well: "It harkens back to the problem dancemakers have had presenting themselves to funding bodies," Bailis explains. "They have to capture, in a three-minute clip, something cogent about their aesthetic intentions." A piece that builds over 60 or 90 minutes cannot possibly be grasped in 30 seconds. Nor do most dance companies have the tools one needs to create high-quality, commercial-grade video content.
Digital platforms being what they are, the question becomes: "How do you make something that is its own thing, that lives on its own platform?" says Brian Carbine, communications manager for L.A. Dance Project.
More and more artists are creating content meant exclusively for viral consumption: Think of Justin Peck and Robert Fairchild tap dancing through a New York City subway station, or Houston Ballet parodying "The Office" using characters from story ballets. These videos are not clips of performances, but short dance films that take on their own form and require a whole different set of skills to produce.
Another strategy dance companies use is posting behind-the-scenes footage, which gives audiences a thrilling sense of intimacy. "When I started with LADP, I wanted to emphasize process," Carbine explains. Along with rehearsal photos, many companies showcase class footage or video shot from the wings.
"Having a 360 on the work from inception to creation to performance is something social media does well," Bailis says. It also takes the pressure off those who feel intimidated by dance. "As an audience member, you can celebrate people doing something interesting in process as much as you can enjoy the finished dance."
What Actually Translates to Tickets
The presence of viral dance content in someone's personally tailored feed may not cause them to suddenly buy tickets to performances. But it can help make dance feel less unfamiliar, "causing us to think of movement as something we can relate to," says Bailis. "That does influence whether you'd imagine yourself at a dance show."
Part of an audience imagining themselves there, however, sometimes has little to do with their love of dance: It may have to do with someone else they love—or, more likely, an influencer—posting about dance.
Or it might have to do with boosting their own online presence. Via social media, people want to be seen in interesting places. They wonder, "Will I be able to capitalize on that performance with a visual for my social media?" (Think of all those shots of people posing with their Hamilton programs.) " 'Can I get a picture of me in that?' " says Bailis. "Or 'How is my presence at the performance valuable to my social media presence?' "
Still, it takes practice for new audiences to be ready to watch the most complex forms of concert dance, says Bailis. "You can condense a work into those short, beautiful moments online—but in the theater, the audience still has to absorb the rest of the piece. But if you can develop that concentration, dance can change people. It speaks to who we are at the deepest level of embodiment."
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When a musical prepares to make the transfer from a smaller, lesser-known venue to Broadway (where theaters hold 500-plus seats), often there's a collective intake of breath from all involved. After all, a bigger house means more tickets to sell in order to stay in the black, and sometimes shows with even the most tenacious fan bases can't quite navigate such a jump. But what about the transfer from stage…to screen? Is Broadway ready to be consumed from the comfort of your couch?
The way we create and consume dance is changing every day. Now more than ever, the field demands that dancers not only be able to perform at the highest level, but also collaborate with choreographers to bring their artistic visions to life. Dancers who miss out on choreographic training may very well find themselves at a disadvantage as they try to launch their careers.
Daphne Lee was dancing with Collage Dance Collective in Memphis, Tennessee, when she received two difficult pieces of news: Her mother had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma cancer, and her father had Parkinson's disease, affecting his mobility and mental faculties.
The New Jersey native's reaction: "I really need to move home."
Summer is almost upon us, and whether you're a student about to go on break or a pro counting the days till layoff, don't forget that with warm weather comes a very serious responsibility: To maintain your cross-training routine on your own.
Those of us who've tried to craft our own cross-training routine know it's easier said than done. So we consulted the stars, and rounded up the best options for every zodiac sign. (TBH, you should probably consult an expert, too—we'd recommend a physical therapist, a personal trainer or your teacher.)
It's not often that a promising choreographer gets to stage work in a world-class theater, on a skillfully-curated program with professional dancers, and with the possibility of winning a substantial cash prize. But at the McCallum Theatre's Palm Desert Choreography Festival, that's been the status quo for over twenty years.
Since Shea New, the festival's artistic director, founded the festival in 1998, she's worked tirelessly with McCallum's director of education and festival producer, Kajsa Thuresson-Frary, and stage manager and festival production manager Joanna Fookes to build a festival that nurtures choreographers, highlights high quality work, powerfully engages the local community and cultivates an audience base for dance in the Coachella Valley. The trio is backed by a strong team of professionals at McCallum and the brilliant volunteers from the local and national level who serve as adjudicators.
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It's become second nature in dance studios: The instant anyone gets hurt, our immediate reaction is to run to the freezer to grab some ice (or, more realistically, a package of frozen peas).
But as routine as icing our injuries might be, the benefits are not actually backed up by scientific studies. And some experts now believe icing could even disrupt the healing process.
I'm a contemporary dancer, and I'm nervous about trying to get pregnant since I can't predict if it might happen during the middle of the season. We have a union contract that is supposed to protect us. But I'm scared because several of my colleagues' contracts weren't renewed for no particular reason. Having a big belly could be a big reason to get rid of me!
—Andrea, New York, NY
When the going gets tough, the tough start dancing: That's the premise behind "Dance of Urgency," a recently opened exhibit at MuseumsQuartier Vienna that features photos, video and other documentary material relating to the use of dance as political protest or social uprising.
The groups featured in the show, largely based around clubs and electronic dance music scenes, span the globe and respond to a variety of issues—from inequality and social stratification to racial divides to crackdowns on club culture itself.
Last night, longtime theater legends (including Chita Rivera herself!) as well as rising stars gathered to celebrate one of Broadway's danciest events: the third annual Chita Rivera Awards.
The evening paid tribute to this season's dancer standouts, fabulous ensembles, and jaw-dropping choreography—on- and off-Broadway and on film.
As usual, several of our faves made it into the mix. (With such a fabulous talent pool of nominees to choose from, we're glad that ties were allowed.) Here are the highlights from the winner's list:
When you're a foreign dancer, gaining legal rights to work in the U.S. is a challenging process. It's especially difficult if you're petitioning to work as a freelance dancer without an agent or company sponsorship.
The process requires professional muscle along with plenty of resources and heart. "There's a real misnomer that it's super easy," says Neena Dutta, immigration attorney and president of Dutta Law Firm. "People need to educate themselves and talk to a professional."
Here are four things every foreign dancer who wants to work in the U.S. needs to know to build a freelance dance career here.
What does it take to "make it" in dance? It's no secret that turning this passion into a profession can be a struggle. In such a competitive field, talent alone isn't enough to get you where you want to be.
So what kinds of steps can you take to become successful? Dance Magazine spoke to 33 people from all corners of the industry to get their advice on the lessons that could help us all, no matter where we are in our careers.
On May 18, 1919, Margot "Peggy" Hookham was born. She would grow up to become Dame Margot Fonteyn, England's first homegrown prima ballerina. She joined the Sadler's Wells School in 1934 and was performing principal roles with the precursor to The Royal Ballet the next year. Fonteyn was a company-defining figure, dancing Aurora for the re-opening of the Royal Opera House after World War II, creating numerous roles with Sir Frederick Ashton and forging a legendary partnership with Rudolf Nureyev.
Memorial Day is notoriously one of Chicago's bloodiest weekends. Last year, 36 people were shot and seven died that weekend. In 2017 and 2016, the number of shootings was even higher.
When Garley "GiGi Tonyé" Briggs, a dance teacher and Chicago native, started noticing this pattern, she was preparing her second annual Memorial Day workshop for local youth.
The event's original aim was simple: "I wanted the youth of Chicago to have somewhere they could come and learn from different dancers and be off the streets on the South Side on this hot holiday," she says.