Get Booked: 4 Tips on Using Instagram to Land More Jobs
Eric Underwood's Instagram is a mix of fashion, dance and fun. Photo for ESQUIRE UK by Tom Craig
Anyone can see that online influence can change how the average Joe or Jill is perceived. In dance, social media has helped boost familiar faces like Misty Copeland and Eric Underwood, who have both gotten athletic ad campaigns, book deals and endorsements.
Having a clear Instagram presence can help dancers create additional job opportunities within the entertainment industry. Check out these tips from four dancers who've used the platform to land new gigs.
Tip #1: Be You
A scoliosis advocate and champion, Paige Fraser has turned what some would call a handicap into something that has kept her "booked to capacity." She leads with the philosophy: "Be you. Know who you are and put your best self forward." Throughout Fraser's social media presence, it is clear that she is proud of who she is and all of the things that make her unique—including her scoliosis.
A founding member of Visceral Dance Chicago, she notes that showcasing her talents on social media has helped her land commercial opportunities that she wouldn't have foreseen otherwise. Namely, Fraser booked gigs for FOX's "Empire" and a documentary called "Women That Inspire" for ESPN Latin America all through Instagram.
Fraser wants to inspire others to be an inspiration: "We are #trending, especially dancers of color. I am not ashamed to use it as an advantage. I live to inspire and share my experience of living with scoliosis."
Hernandez knows that people are curious to see what he's up to, and uses that to engage followers. "Although its primary use is geared toward sharing my work and career updates, at any given day you may find me acting a fool on my story," he says. It's worked: He has been offered both teaching and performing jobs via social media.
Being honest about who he is has proven to be an empowering tool for James Whiteside, principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre. "I have an undeniably queer voice," he says, "and I aim to give people a fun, honest look at an artist." He believes that his social media followers are full of love and acceptance, which comes in handy when he shares cheeky photos.
Los Angeles-based commercial dancer Aja DePaolo, who currently dances behind Britney Spears, stresses the importance of sharing different kinds of photos. "A healthy mix of professional and fun makes people feel a sense of connection to you," she says. "I try to come off relatable and aspirational."
Are followers important? "A huge part of booking jobs now is your social media presence!" says DePaolo. "The last few gigs I've booked have asked how many followers I had on social media."
Showing some vibrant aspects of her personal life has kept DePaolo's 27,000 Instagram followers deeply engaged. Depending on what job she is on dictates what she posts: "If I'm on tour, I typically post pictures of the places I go or fan interaction. If I'm more LA-based, I like to take pictures that focus my hobbies like food, traveling and my love life."
James Whiteside (Jayme Thornton for Dance Magazine)
Say you're perpetually impeccable designer Thom Browne. Say you're planning your Spring 2020 Paris menswear show along a "Versailles country club" theme. Say you want a world-class danseur to open the show with some kind of appropriately fabulous choreography.
Who do you call? James Whiteside, of course. On Saturday, the American Ballet Theatre principal—wearing pointe shoes and a glorious pinstriped tutu—kicked off Browne's presentation at the École des Beaux-Arts with a 15-minute, show-stealing solo. Whiteside choreographed the piece himself, with the help of detailed notes from the designer.
I'd been a professional dancer for five years when I realized the pain I'd been feeling in my hip and down my sciatic nerve was not going away. I had been treating it for two years as we dancers do—with regular visits to my masseuse, physical therapy, baths, ice and lots of Aleve—but I never stopped dancing. It finally dawned on me that if I kept going at the speed I was going (which was, well, speedy), the pain would only get more severe and unrelenting, and I might never dance again.
I told myself I'd take two months off, and all would be better.
That first morning when I woke up at 10 am, I had no idea what to do with myself. My life until that moment had been dictated by class and rehearsal, every hour accounted for. How should I fill the huge swath of time ahead of me?