The Dance Version of an Elevator Speech

Elevator speech? Such a cliché and has nothing to do with dance, right? Wrong.

Courtesy of Google ImagesIn the day of the incredibly shrinking attention span, a dancer has about 10 seconds at best to grab an agent, audience or choreographer’s attention.

When it comes to an online presence, it is beneficial to keep this in mind.  The most comparable version of an elevator speech for a dancer is a YouTube video.  When grabbing the viewer’s attention, fireworks and a big show are not necessary. Personality and confidence will take you a long way.

Jian Pierre-Louis

Jian Pierre-Louis

I stumbled upon a video by Jian that I thought illustrated this beautifully. Notice how the subtle visuals build to the camera rumble, walking the perfect line of confidence and personality. The icing on the cake is the call to action at the end.

I guess it doesn’t hurt that the choreography and dancers are pretty amazing though.

My only complaint with this video is the Yankees hat. Jian, I’m sure I could find you an extra Indians hat if you’re interested.

All in all, this 54 second “elevator speech” turned into 10 minutes on repeat. That’s a win-win situation in my book.

Check out the Better Than Caffeine page to see other videos that feature Jian.

Posted in Dance, Social Media, YouTube | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

DancePlug: Raising The Social Media Bar

In previous posts I’ve focused on the challenges dancers face with social media. In this post I want to focus on three dancers who have not just overcome the challenges, but are thriving in the world of social media.

DancePlug.com

Glyn Gray, Anh Dillon and Adam Parson have created the dancer’s dream website, DancePlug. This website serves as a one-stop-shop for dancers to stay current in the industry and propel their career. According to DancePlug’s website, they founded this site “with the sole purpose, to raise the awareness of dance through media with the help of the Internet.” How perfect, right?

Why These Dancers Are Unique

Talent: Glyn, Anh and Adam are not just dancers, they have more talent in their pinky finger than any dancer could hope for. Oh wait, there’s more. These dancers are some of the most inspiring teachers that you could have the honor to take a class from.

Although I haven’t had the pleasure of studying under Glyn and Anh, I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to study under Adam. My first class with Adam was when he was on tour with LA Dance Force eight years ago—and I still remember the routine he taught to this day. With each class I have taken from him (or even observed) I have become stronger, physically and mentally. He has personally shaped me into a better dancer and I will always be grateful to him for his inspiration.

OK—personal ramble over.

How DancePlug Is Changing The Industry

Educational accessibility: Universities are now offering online programs and classes for students for continuing education. Well, bravo to DancePlug’s creators for mimicking this movement.

DancePlug.comThrough this website, dancers can “attend” a dance class without leaving home. Starting at $1.85, dancers can purchase a video of a prominent choreographer teaching a combination. No longer do you have to go to LA or NYC to get inspiration from these well-respected choreographers in the industry.

All of the videos are HD and filmed with a crisp white background making body lines more visible. Additionally, these choreographers make the learning process easy by demonstrating routines at half and full tempo.

Beginners can take advantage of the free videos on the site that walk the viewer through very basic dance steps. As basic as they are, we all need a brush up sometimes so they are still valuable to dancers at every level.

Why It Works

Visual appeal: The website has a clean interface and consistent colors that subtly reinforces the DancePlug brand. The tabs along the top of the page allow for easy navigation and the vast content is broken into logical sections.

One of the most impressive features, in my opinion, is the way in which the choreographers have been categorized and displayed. Some may think this is a no brainer but if you view other major studio website’s (ahem, Millennium and BDC) their faculty  pages are complete chaos and displeasing to the eyes.

What They Do Differently

Integration: In addition to online dance classes, the site features demo reels, interviews, events and auditions. In a previous post I made a blanket statement that dancers had a case of blogaphobia. I need to take a moment to eat my words right now because this site also contains a blog—and a good one.

This blog isn’t a typical blog it’s actually a vlog, a video blog. The posts are referred to as “episodes” but in essence it is still a post.

Why It Will Succeed

Integrity: The site also has a strong presence on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube that alerts dancers of the site’s new offerings; however, that isn’t the main focus. They actually provide educational content and industry insight.

The site has even produced its own commercial. No, it’s not on TV but who watches commercials on TV anyways? In the day of the DVR it’s best to save the dough.

Thank you DancePlug for a much needed face lift for the dance industry and raising the bar for others. Time for the rest of us to catch up.

The Dancers Behind DancePlug

Bios courtesy of DancePlug.com

GLYN GRAY

Courtesy of DancePlug.com

Glyn Gray

Glyn has been involved in the arts for the past 25 years. He has performed on London’s “West End”, in Baz Luhrmann’s movie “Moulin Rouge” as a featured dancer, and in numerous musicals, commercials and industrials. He has taught in New Zealand, Australia, Europe and the United States. Glyn is co-creator/examiner for the AJDA tap syllabus and co-creator/director/choreographer to his show BPM beatsperminute which has seen a national tour of Australia and 3 sold out seasons at the Sydney Opera House.

Glyn teaches weekly at Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio and over the past 2 years has dedicated his talents to DancePlug as media designer, videographer, developer and director to which he is co-creator and co-founder.

To learn more about Glyn’s career, visit Glyn’s career profile page.

ANH DILLON

Courtsey of DancePlug.com

Anh Dillon

Anh was classically trained at the Conservatoire in Paris France, then at the Dance Academy in Belgium where she discovered jazz. She extended her training with modern, salsa and flamenco. Pursuing her career, she arrived in Los Angeles in 2000.

She has taught and performed around the world (US, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, S. Korea, New Zealand) for the past 12 years. Anh’s professional career covers various types of work including music videos (Usher), industrials (Aveda, Peugeot), commercials (PBS), print ads and dance companies (LA Contemporary Ballet Co, Commonality Dance Co). She has also choreographed for several industrials (L’Oreal, Schwarzkopf) and artists (Prince).

In 2009, Anh received the Lester Horton Award for Best Performance in a small group for “Duet” choreographed by Terri Best.

Aside from dance, she graduated in graphic design, and is co-owner/co-director of StirStudios. True to her artistic heart, she also does costume design and jewelry making.

To learn more about Anh’s career, visit Anh’s career profile page.

ADAM PARSON

Courtesy of DancePlug.com

"It is important to me to make connections all over through dance, as I believe it we can all learn to communicate through it." - Adam Parson

Adam Parson was born in Nairobi, Kenya. He discovered dance at age 26, when his sister asked him to take her friend to his dance studio. Before this he was a systems analyst and bookeeper in Georgetown, Washington D.C. After watching people at that studio jump, kick, turn, run, hit the rhythms he was hooked. Now, he a respected teacher and choreographer. He is also the Artistic Director for the Commonality Dance Company(C. DANCE Co.), choreographed for So You Think You Can Dance (Australia) and has been featured in Pepsi commercials.

To learn more about Adam’s career, visit Adam’s career profile page.

Posted in Blogging, Brand, Dance, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New York City Ballet First to Enforce Social Media Contracts

Courtesy of FlikrRemember that saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Turns out your mom was right, especially when it comes to social media.

Common sense, right? Well, apparently some of us need to be reminded.

Devin Alberda, one the New York City Ballet’s corps de ballet, learned firsthand how damaging opening his big fat social media mouth could be.

Courtesy of Google ImagesWhen Devin’s boss at the NYCB was busted for drunk driving, he posted the oh so support tweet: ‘Thank goodness riding the subway while intoxicated isn’t a misdemeanour offence.” Funny? Yes. Smart? Not so much.

When you include the hashtag #dontfireme, you know that you have taken the joke too far.

Devin became quite the repeat offender when he continuously tweeted unflattering comments about the NYCB’s No. 1 donor, David Koch. FYI – the NYCB performs at the The Koch Theater and Koch may or may not have donated $100 million to the ballet company. No big deal.

Courtesy of Broadway World

David H. Koch Theater

Devin’s tweets have also called out the NYCB for racial stereotyping and has made mentions of a conspiracy theory with Koch and the Tea Party.

The NYCB didn’t sit back and take it.

NYCB has set the precedent for all other performing-arts companies by forcing company members to sign a contract that allows the company to monitor the dancers’ social media presence. Devin’s tweets has also inspired the ballet company to force the dancers to include a disclaimer in Twitter bios, stating that their views do not represent the NYCB (see Devin’s bio below). Additionally, the contract bans dancers from taking pictures of other company members without the NYCB’s permission.

Devin Alberda Twitter Bio

Devin Alberda Twitter Bio

Courtesy of Google ImagesI’ll give it to them that Devin may have taken it a step too far but two wrongs don’t make a right. This new policy is a little over the top, in my opinion. Monitoring your employees’ online commentary is justified but the ban on taking pictures of other company members without the NYCB’s permission is ridiculous.

The ballet’s executive director, Katherine Brown, has come out in defense of the company. In a recent statement Brown said:

“In order to protect its interests, NYCB reserves the right to monitor postings that are available to the general public or those that are not privacy-protected about the company, its employees and its activities.

Because social media usage has dramatically increased and will continue to do so, like many organizations the company is exploring the development of social media guidelines for all artistic and administrative employees with respect to their professional lives.”

Did anyone else stop listening at “in order to protect its interests” – I did.

It will be interesting what other performing-arts companies follow in the footsteps of the NYCB. Only time will tell.

To read more on this social media fail, check out recent articles in Ragan’s PR Daily and Daily Mail.

Posted in Dance, Monitoring, Social Media | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Facebook is the Dancer’s Friend

Facebook logo courtesy of Google ImagesI can’t even count how many articles I’ve read from PR professionals that say every company should have a presence in every social media channel.

Yes, interacting with your audience is important but I’m just not convinced it’s always necessary to have an account on every social media platform, especially when it comes to Facebook.

Call me crazy but I use Facebook to interact with friends—not to read ads. No matter how much I love a company, I tend to shy away from “liking” a company page. I have found that (generally) it will fill my news feed with useless information.

De-friending on FacebookI blame peer pressure for businesses feeling as though they must be on Facebook. “Our competitor is doing it so we have to as well.”

Guess what, your competitor isn’t always right. It’s not always necessary for a business to get on Facebook, especially if you’re not going to say something relevant to the conversation. You don’t want to be “that guy”. I’ll de-friend you, I swear I will, and so will others.

What does this have anything to do with dance?

I want dancers to think about how they interact on Facebook. I’m seeing a trend on Facebook with dancers who spend all of their time posting self-advertisements. In a previous post I argued that dancers are a brand, but you don’t have to be all business. If I’m friends with you on Facebook, I want you to be a friend or at least behave like one.

I have seen great success with dance studios that have a Facebook account. What is the key to their success? They interact like they are a person—generally because they are a person (FYI—that works on Twitter too. Scott Monty is a great example).

The Dance Centre by Heidi GlyniasTake The Dance Centre by Heidi Glynias for example. The owner, Heidi, has taken ownership of the page and it is visible. When responding to a post, she clearly identifies herself. This is a form of transparency you may not think about, but it applies. The personality behind The Dance Centre’s Facebook page is endearing and makes engaging with the studio feel organic.

Broadway Dance CenterThe Broadway Dance Center in New York City on the other hand does not interact with a unique voice. In real life I am a fan of the Broadway Dance Center, so why wouldn’t I want to be a fan of its Facebook page? Honestly, it has nothing to say. Plus, I have no idea who is behind its Facebook page and that slightly irritates me. I want to know who I am talking to – I want to interact with people, not a logo.

Admittedly I grew up dancing at The Dance Centre so I might be bias, but I also studied at the Broadway Dance Center. As objective as I can be, I just think The Dance Centre understands the social media platform better. Therefore, I am far more engaged with The Dance Centre on Facebook.

I’m not a studio owner so what about me?

Dancers can use Facebook to their advantage as well. When posting on Facebook from a personal account, don’t spend all of your time promoting yourself. However, throwing in some professional information is just fine.

Courtesy of Google Images

Erica Sobol

What professional information is appropriate for Facebook?

Classes you are teaching, great classes you took and posting class videos all fit into that criteria. Erica Sobol often posts when she is subbing a class and Adam Parson will post what routines or songs he is using in class. Dancers care about this information, a.k.a. it’s relevant.

No doubt these mentions drive dancers to classes, and high class attendance is the closest thing you have to job security as a teacher.

I’m also a huge fan of dancers showing gratitude. If you just took a great class, then tell someone. Facebook is a way to go about doing that. But don’t post a comment just to suck up to a choreographer. However, if it is authentic, then go for it.

In a previous post, I wrote about the importance of YouTube for dancers. Posting your videos on Facebook works too.

Heidi Glynias and Kelsey Wilkins

Heidi Glynias and Kelsey Wilkins

My close friend, Kelsey Wilkins, often posts videos of choreography from her classes on Facebook. As a result of posting these videos, demand for an adult hip hop class was discovered. Action was taken and an adult hip hop class was created. How did Kelsey let people know about this class? Facebook of course. This is a perfect example of the groundswell in action.

Courtesy of Google Images

Nicole Russo

Another friend, Nicole Russo, posted a video of her performance from the illusive Carnival (Choreographer’s Ball) in Los Angeles on Facebook. Given the exposure that the video generated, people will remember her face. Additionally I was able to view an important milestone in her career.

What success stories have you seen on Facebook—related or unrelated to dance? What are the major pitfalls you have seen?

Posted in Dance, Facebook, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dancer Blogaphobia?

What's up with the no blogging, dancers?In my journey into the blogosphere I have spent a significant amount of time searching for established dancers and choreographers who have a compelling blog. So far no luck. There are a few dancers out there that have attempted to blog but seem to give up fairly quickly. Approximately five posts is the average life-span of a dancer’s blogs.

I understand that a dancer’s life is hectic, but seriously no one? It’s just mind boggling to me. Why dancers are completely absent in the blogosphere?

Here are a couple of the reasons that came to my mind:

I’d Rather be Dancing

Trust me when I say that I understand that. Given the choice between taking a class or writing a blog post, I wouldn’t fault any dancer who picks the class over writing the blog post. Actually, I would expect it. Keeping up on your craft is of the utmost importance. However, there are hours in the day where taking a class is just not an option. How a person chooses to spend that time is completely up to each individual–no judgment here.

Time management

Outside of landing a triple pirouette, part of dancer’s training is time management. At a young age, dancers learn to balance school, homework, classes, rehearsals, competitions and performances. It is an art form in its own right and (most) dancers just have it in their bones. So if you think there is no time in the day to possibly write a blog, you aren’t giving yourself enough credit. Like I said, no judgment but no excuses either.

It’s Uncomfortable and Unfamiliar

Not all dancer are bloggersWhat I admire about the dancers in my life is their inhibition and willingness to make themselves completely vulnerable. They lay their heart out on the line and it pays off. I’m an advocate for trying new things and putting yourself in uncomfortable situations because that is how you grow. But if you’re going to do, really go for it. Everyone knows that when you hesitate before you leap, that is when you fall on your face. Set yourself up for success and go for it.

Here’s the catch with this though–blogging is not for everyone.  Not all dancers are bloggers. If it isn’t your thing, move on to another challenge. There are certainly plenty of other ones out there and the world doesn’t stop and start with social media.

Blogging Won’t Help Me Pay the Bills

I hate to say this but I don’t know if ROI on a dance blog is significant. I say this mainly because dance blogs are few and far apart. You might be thinking if there is no proof of ROI on blogging, why would I even write a blog?

Pay It ForwardWell, in my opinion, ROI is not the sole purpose of social media. Yes, it’s a plus but it’s not everything. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is since diving into the social media world is that a large percentage of those who actively participate do so from a “pay it forward” point of view. Blogging is a great way to pass along the information you’ve gained with others. So, what is your area of expertise? Is it dance history, new trends, best classes in town, ballet? No matter what, you have something interesting to say and we’re all waiting to hear it.

So, what is it dancers? Why haven’t you joined the blogosphere? What is this blogaphobia all about?

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Mobile Apps for Dancers On-the-Go

As graduate students, we are forced to sit in front of our computers for hours on end writing, reading and researching for classes (OK – not forced to but just humor me). In grad school, computers are our lifeline and main source of survMobile apps are important to a dancer's lifestyleival.

Professional dancers, on the other hand, very rarely spend hours sitting in front of their computer.  Between classes, rehearsals and performances, they are constantly on-the-go. More for the convenience factor, dancers tends to rely on their phones for survival.

Inspired by a graduate project for my PR Online Tactics course, I researched mobile applications that are most useful to dancers. The apps listed below are the highly rated  and designed to make every aspect of a dancer’s life more manageable.

Social Network Apps: As I have indicated in prior posts, keeping connected to peers in the dance world is incredibly advantageous to a dancer’s career. It allows dancers to learn the latest news in real-time. The below apps are adaptations of the social networking platforms.

Most popular with BlackBerry users, Uber Social (formerly Uber Twitter) is another Twitter app alternative. In my opinion, this app is less user-friendly but I know many loyal users.

Blogging: If you are a blogger and suddenly get the inspiration to post, TypePad makes it possible to blog straight from a cell phone. This app is great for short posts but for lengthy posts I recommend waiting until you get in front of your computer. As convenient as it is to blog between classes, there are limitations to its capabilities and the quality of a post could suffer.

Courtesy of Google ImagesMusic: Nothing is possible in the dance world without music. These free apps are all must-haves for dancers and music lovers.

Fitness and Nutrition: In order to carry out day-to-day activities, healthy nutrition and fitness is a requirement. The apps below are designed to keep balance in a very active lifestyle.

  • BodyBook – an exercise and fitness log app
  • Calories Burned Calculator – designed to evaluate how many calories burned during a workout/dance class
  • Food Network – provides healthy recipes and videos
  • Pain Free – offers exercises that can help alleviate aches and pains

GPS Navigation: Running from audition to audition is a reality for a dancer. Getting from one place to another can be a struggle. Google Maps Navigation is a free app that I am a fan of. It allows the user to choose multiple routes (highways, back streets, etc.). Those dancers stuck in L.A. traffic could benefit tremendously from this option. MotionX Drive is a similar paid app available to iPhone users. As far as I am concerned, Google Maps is just as good as this paid app.

Google Maps App

Using apps like Mint.com can be a useful way to manage financesFinance: The phrase “starving artist” is around for a reason. At one point or another all dancers struggle to make ends meet. Dancers choose this profession out of passion, not to become millionaires. Luckily there are apps that can make managing finances easier. Out of all the apps out there, my recommendation is Mint. This app automatically enters transactions and updates account balances and sends real-time alerts to the user when an account balance is dangerously low. There has also been a recent update allows editing transactions.

This is just a short list of apps that I have found helpful. What apps are you using? Are there any apps that you couldn’t live without?

Posted in Dance, Mobile Apps | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Twittquette for Dancers

At the core, social media is a community and like in any other community there are rules of etiquette. The rules of etiquette are unique to each social media platform, and when they are violated it is visible for the world to see – permanently.

TwittiquetteDon’t fool yourself into thinking the delete button will erase all of your mistakes. If someone wants to find your mistakes, believe me they will. Even those captured in 140 characters or less.

For this reason, I have highlighted three common errors dancers make when communicating on Twitter.

Self Promoting Narcissism

I’m not suggesting that you don’t tell your followers about a class you’re teaching. Where this goes wrong is when you are the subject of every tweet you write. You wouldn’t want to be around someone who only talks about themselves, would you? Well them same thing applies on Twitter.

Too.Much.Information.

Don't fall into the dancer TMI trap!When you press send, it means you are sending your tweet into the public domain. You want to represent yourself in the best way. This is not the place for drunken tweets, excessive swearing, abusive language, off-color jokes.

Good rule of thumb – don’t say anything on Twitter than you wouldn’t say on national television … or in front of the 12-year-old students in your Tuesday jazz class.

The Follow-to-Follower Ratio Fail

Social Media SnubThe most popular Twitters are those who engage with their followers AND follow back. It is important to remember that communications goes both ways. By simply “allowing” people to have the privilege of reading your tweets is snobbish. The entire point of Twitter is personal contact, so if someone follows you it is a good idea to reciprocate.

Mark Ragan, social media and communications professional, is a good example of proper follow-to-follower ratio.

Mark Ragan Twitter Profile

Blake McGrath, dancer, choreographer and (as of recent) singer, is a good example of what not to do.

Blake McGrath Twitter Profile

Some disagree with this tactic. A common argument is that it simply takes too long to follow everyone back.  Seriously? You are too busy and important that you can’t click one button? Rubbish – you’re either lazy or just don’t care about what others have to say. People will assume it’s the latter.

Honestly, I am struggling to find a leading dancer or choreographer in the industry that is not guilty of this. Please, someone prove me wrong.

If you’re looking for more twittiquette tips, Jenny Cromie’s “8 Sure-Fire Ways To Piss Off the Twitterverse” is a great reference for newcomers. You can also follow @twitetiquette on Twitter for some helpful info as you tweet away.

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