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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."
Bales of hay, black umbrellas, bicycles—this Midsummer Night's Dream would be unrecognizable to the Bard. Alexander Ekman's full-length, inspired by Scandinavian solstice traditions and set to music by Mikael Karlsson, is a madcap celebration of the longest day of the year, when the veil between our world and that of the supernatural is said to be at its thinnest. The Joffrey Ballet's performances mark the seductively surreal work's North American premiere. April 25–May 6. joffrey.org.
"There's an ancient energy in Fana's movement, a deep and trusted knowing," says Jeff, director of the Chicago-based Deeply Rooted Dance Theater. "Because I witnessed the raw humanity of his dancer's souls, I wanted my dancers to have that experience."
When I wrote about my struggle with depression, and eventual departure from dance because of it, I expected criticism. I was prepared to be challenged. But much to my relief, and horror, dancers from all over the world responded with support and stories of solidarity. The most critical response I saw was this one:
"Dance isn't for everyone."
This may as well be a mantra in the dance world. We have become entrenched in the Darwinian notion that the emotionally weak will be weeded out. There is no room for them anyway.
In his final bow at New York City Ballet, during what should have been a heroic conclusion to a celebrated ballet career, Robert Fairchild slipped and fell. His reaction? To lie down flat on his back like he meant to do it. Then start cracking up at himself.
"He's such a ham," says his sister Megan Fairchild, with a laugh. "He's really good at selling whatever his body is doing that day. He'll turn a moment that I would totally go home and cry about into something where the audience is like, 'That's the most amazing thing ever!' "
Growing up in a family-owned dance studio in Missouri had its perks for tap dancer Anthony Russo. But it also earned him constant taunting, especially in high school.
"There was a junior in my sophomore year health class who was absolutely relentless," he says. "I'd get tripped on my way to the front of the classroom and he'd say, 'Watch out, twinkle toes.' If I raised my hand and answered a question incorrectly, I'd hear a patronizing 'Nice one, Bojangles.' "
Choreographer Sergio Trujillo asked the women auditioning for ensemble roles in his newest musical to arrive in guys' clothing—"men's suits, or blazers and ties," he says. He wasn't being kinky or whimsical. The entire ensemble of Summer: The Donna Summer Musical is female, playing men and women interchangeably as they unfold the history of the chart-busting, Grammy-winning, indisputable Queen of Disco.
Have a scroll through Agnes Muljadi's Instagram feed (@artsyagnes), and you'll notice that in between her ballet shots is a curated mix of lifestyle pics. So what exactly sets her apart from the other influencers you follow? Muljadi has made a conscious effort to only feature natural beauty products, sustainable fashion and vegan foods. With over 500k followers, her social strategy (and commitment to making ethical choices) is clearly a hit. Ahead, learn why Muljadi switched to a vegan lifestyle, and the surprising way it's helped her dance career.
He may not be a household name, but you probably know Brandon Stirling Baker's work. The 30-year-old has designed the lighting for most of Justin Peck's ballets—including Heatscape for Miami City Ballet, and the edgy The Times Are Racing for New York City Ballet—but also Jamar Roberts' new Members Don't Get Weary at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and a trio of Martha Graham duets for L.A. Dance Project.
He's been fascinated by lighting ever since he attended a public performing arts middle school in Sherman Oaks, California, where he had his first experiences lighting shows. He also has a background in music (he plays guitar and bass) and in drawing. Both, he says, are central to the way he approaches lighting dance.
Update: Due to an overwhelming response, the in-person audition has been moved to a larger location to accommodate more dancers. See details below.
For the first time in more than 10 years, Janet Jackson is holding an open audition for dancers.
Even better? You could land a spot in her #JTribe simply by posting a video on social media.
What does it take to become an international superstar? Carlos Acosta might have a few ideas.
At the Oxford Literary Festival earlier this month, the BBC sat down with Acosta to ask for his life lessons. His answers—which he says he will pass on to his kids one day—give incredible insight into how he's become such a beloved worldwide success.