Career Advice

Get Booked: 4 Tips on Using Instagram to Land More Jobs

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."

Tip #2: Dance Like No One is Watching

Formerly a dancer in Ballet Hispanico and Broadway's On Your Feet, Chris Hernandez has a more relaxed approach to his Instagram strategy. "I never take my social media too seriously," he says.

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.

Tip #3: Be Honest

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.

"I like to post photos that will reach a wide audience, not just balletomanes," he says.

Whiteside also uses social media to connect with other artists. He recommends that you interact with people whose work you respect, then reach out—the worst they can do is ignore you.

Tip #4: Mix It Up

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."

Health & Body
Gettty Images

It's a cycle familiar to many: First, a striking image of a lithe, impossibly fit dancer executing a gravity-defying développé catches your eye on Instagram. You pause your scrolling to marvel, over and over again, at her textbook physique.

Inevitably, you take a moment to consider your own body, in comparison. Doubt and negative self-talk first creep, and then flood, in. "I'll never look like that," the voice inside your head whispers. You continue scrolling, but the image has done its dirty work—a gnawing sensation has taken hold, continually reminding you that your own body is inferior, less-than, unworthy.

It's no stretch to say that social media has a huge effect on body image. For dancers—most of whom already have a laser-focus on their appearance—the images they see on Instagram can seem to exacerbate ever-present issues. "Social media is just another trigger," says Nadine Kaslow, a psychologist who works with the dancers of Atlanta Ballet. "And dancers don't need another trigger." In the age of Photoshop and filters, how can dancers keep body dysmorphia at bay?

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When it comes to dance in the U.S., companies in the South often find themselves overlooked—sometimes even by the presenters in their own backyard. That's where South Arts comes in. This year, the regional nonprofit launched Momentum, an initiative that will provide professional development, mentorship, touring grants and residencies to five Southern dance companies.

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