Career Advice

Take Your Dance Videos from Instagram-Ready to Festival-Ready

As Instagram has become one of the most popular apps in the world, dancers have—unsurprisingly—taken full advantage.

Major companies like American Ballet Theatre and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater use the app to share videos of shows and rehearsals. Dance filmmakers like Celia Rowlson-Hall post short bursts of their newest films. Performers like Maria Kochetkova share both silly and glamorous behind-the-scenes clips.

But how do you take your passion for posting your dance videos on social media and translate that into a career in dance for film?

Experiment

Using social media is a great way to get your career off the ground. And now, with editing tools like Boomerang built directly into the Instagram app, you can make even more creative choices. Holly Wilder of Wilder Project says that social media offers a place to experiment: "You can release small segments of work or unfinished ideas."


Make Wise Investments

When you're ready to start making more formal dance films, you'll need to invest in a quality camera and sound equipment. Can't shell out the money for pro tools? Consider renting, or collaborate with someone who might have what you're looking for.

Figure Out Your Film's Purpose

Ask the question, Why does this need to be on film? Brighid Greene, programs director at Dance Films Association says you need to determine for yourself why it's important that the performance occurs on camera and not on a stage. Are you inspired by the way movement changes when it's in water or on a sandy beach? Do you have a unique concept that needs a camera to come to life?

Consider the Camera as Choreography

Plan for the film edit as you create the movement, suggests Wilder. "You can change location in an instant or create a section of the choreography that will later be in slow motion."

Consider Location

When choosing where to film, make sure that the setting adds to, not detracts, from the movement and the story you are trying to tell.

Educate Yourself

You can learn a lot by watching other filmmakers' work. Research what's available online, follow your favorite artists and take notes on the work they are creating. But if you're really serious, consider film school. Michelle Fletcher of HereNowDance Collective says that training in film can lead to different and interesting artistic choices. Or keep your eyes peeled for workshops like Dance Films Association's monthly Dance Film Lab.

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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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