Is this the end of live arts?

This is not about the politics, or vaccination policies, this post is just my personal thoughts…

Recently the Metropolitan Opera announced they will require proof of vaccine boosters to enter the world’s largest opera house… (click here for full article) Major shows, institutions, and opera have also withdrawn holding live performances this month… The world of art is shifting to NFTs… and dance is changing rapidly…

Ten years ago, there was a system to ballet, a flawed, racist, misogynistic system that still survives and thrives today, but there was a system. Within this system, dancers were limited, were held back by directors, and overlooked… This system created a formal process of hardworking, diligence, and rankings. But with social media, transparency, and people coming forward and sharing their experiences… this world, this system is disappearing…

Now, in today’s world of social media, celebrity power has created an entirely new version of ballet. This new process, this new system, has created an out of control generation oozing with talent. No one can deny that most of the young student dancers celebrated on social media can probably technically out-dance most professionals. Whether or not they can hold a full story ballet artistically, different question… HOWEVER…

We can clearly now see the trend that is happening all over the world- THE GALA DANCER and THE SOCIAL MEDIA SUPER STAR… It is not a secret, that the power of social media and ballet are now connected. Marketing teams are no longer needed, because a simple social media post can sell more tickets than a multi-thousand dollar campaign. Dancers, probably in the first time in history, now have more control of their career, have more say, and are more popular than the company themselves.

When we think of New York City Ballet, we associate it with Tiler Peck.

When we think of American Ballet Theatre, we associate it with James Whiteside, Isabella Boylston, Misty Copeland, and Aran Bell…

Maria Khoreva has single-handedly redefined the Mariinsky in the west.

Natalia Osipova has taken it onestep further to create the first ever dance NFT… it sold for $59,424 (British pounds). Article here.

With everything constantly evolving at a rapid rate, more and more young dancers have taken to the world of social media. Through competitive wins, through ridiculously planned reels, and content that shows off flexibility, turns, and insane jumps… Ballet schools around the world are adapting…

But where do these kids go?

No one wants to spend their best years in the corps de ballet, hoping to be promoted because a director likes them…

You can’t argue pirouettes, if the dancer can turn… they can turn… and social media has proven… turns sell.

You can’t argue leg up… if adage is your jam, the world of social media… and the entire internet goes crazy.

You can’t deny it… Even I am struggling to keep up with the demand and evolution of dance. Between training, dance politics, running this business, I am having hard time seeing the future of ballet… something I used to be very good at. Between the pandemic, social media, and the online universe… even I have struggled to keep up.

Its is now more impressive to see an exciting reel that is 30 seconds than sitting through an entire 3 hour ballet.

It is more comfortable to sit at home and stream a performance with your family or friends with food and wine, and the ability to pause, talk, view a performance at your own pace via digital streaming.

It is more convenient to watch a ballet whenever you want than a 7:00 show downtown.

It is more affordable to watch ballet on instagram and social media platforms for free, rather than pay over $100 dollars a ticket.

The world is changing…

Will ballet keep up?

(photo: metropolitan opera called met at lincoln center in manhattan – new york / usa – december 4, 2018 / ADOBE STOCK)

Self made Super Star

This is not an advertisement for every influencer pack out there. But, if you’re making content, we want to make it easier on you. Start by setting aside time to create content which is commonly referred to as a content creation session. Content includes writing, images, and video. Content can be used for long format such as igtv, youtube, or vimeo; or short format like reels, tik tok, or stories. Here you will find suggestions for the optimal content creation session. We also bring suggestions on how to “live your best life on the gram” by making sure to keep you in frame, well lit, and interesting!  Momager, this one’s for you. 

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Planning is Everything

Journals 

Plan for what you are trying to accomplish in a content creation session. The journal is your best friend before you go into creating something. It helps you stay on track and keeps your brain from wandering too far from your goals. That is not to say that at any moment you might not modify, or adapt to something new, but journaling will give you a good base to start from. 

Planners 

A Ballet Education’s planners are also a great tool for dancers to track their technique, goals, and corrections AND they can also serve as a great place to hold your content ideas and be a place to plan when you have time to create. For parents, this is a great tool for you to put to use so that you do not have to do multiple content creation sessions every week. My suggestion to getting through a session with as much content as possible, is to have 3 leos, or ‘looks’ that you are going to use and to make sure to get photo and video. By having various different looks in one session, you will have plenty to post without having to try to create everyday. 

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Photoshoots 

Try not to have too many photos in the same leotard, the same pose, or the same location. Diversity in the shots will make your profile look amazing and will also save you so much time.

Video

Video should be taken at every session, even if it is just behind the scenes footage. Video is the new trend for making your account pop. Even on the days where you have not yet managed a step, or where you may not feel your most comfortable, take some video anyway. You have now started a video journal of your progress that everyone will love! 

Its free, It’s easy, It’s fun

Natural light 

Natural light is free and it’s your best friend! If you’re just starting out with content creation, you might be worried: Will I be over lit or not lit enough? Will they really see what I am doing? I find that natural light is actually a lot less scary than we think. If you are someone with a phone that allows you to tap the screen to adjust the light, then going outside is a great option. If you have this ability with your phone, try to face your body away from the sun instead of toward it. This will make it so that in all of your photos or videos your body does not have any crazy shadows. Also, if you go into Instagram and add a filter, or brighten your body, then it is not too affected. If you are someone whose phone does not have that option, try using the light from a window, as it is filtered or less harsh. Using a shaded space outdoors is also another great option for great lighting. 

Public parks and Hiking Ranges

A public park or any nature spot is a great place to shoot. They’re free and stunning! No background is more beautiful than what planet earth has to offer and all you have to do is step outside! Once you are there, just take the tip from above on light to help you find your perfect spot. 

Bring a Friend 

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Bring a best friend to dance with! Find a friend who will hype you up, hold the camera for you, encourage you, and make you laugh! Try getting your own Cindy game on and have a partner in crime while creating content! (#TheCindies) Dancers can often isolate themselves which can make life feel more overwhelming. Social media can be a fun, creative space where you can bring a friend to dance and record with. Parents who are managing your young dancer, this tip also applies to you. Capturing your child enjoying what they love, with people they love, is both entertaining and endearing as well as an opportunity for your child to simply go have fun!

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Make the Most of Your Time in Studio

If you are at a school that allows you to use their studios after class, or if you can rent space for private lessons, this is a great place to create content and show your progress as a dancer. For ballet dancers, the studio is where you spend most of your time. If you’re a parent, it is the space that’s probably most familiar for your child to move in. Taking the time, even if it’s just five minutes after class, to snap some shots or video to allow people to get a feeling of who you are inside of the studio, i.e. the space you will be in for the majority of your career! You can also capture difficult movement safely in this familiar space. The studio is a great place to consistently create content!

We hope these tips help you feel more confident creating content for all your social media platforms! Content creation can be another fun avenue to cultivate your own unique artist voice. Remember to be yourself and most of all, have fun! 

The Dancers Content Creation Starter Pack 

ABE planner/ bullet journal 

To plan out everything and feel confident in your content 

Chargers – Extra long charger

In case you forgot to charge your phone, but you already look amazing 

and you’re ready to get through all your content goals. This is always a good item to have around.  

  • Back up – Archive, the cloud

As we learned from last issue hard drives or physical memory holders are not always the best. Consider using the cloud, google drive, or any other internet based storage in case something were to happen to your phone,

Phone Tripod

This is such a helpful tool so you do not break your phone or you hand while 

holding it. 

Beauty ring 

If you are feeling fancy and also have no light in your house, I feel you, this is definitely a good choice for you. This item is a tad more expensive, but so worth it.

Why Dancers Should Be Financially Compensated for Social Media

Every time I am about to start a blog post, the world we live in drastically changes, thus causing me to reevaluate what I post. In the latest post, I was going to be writing about Ballet West returning to the stage but this morning Utah put a limit to no more than 10 on social gatherings. So, I am assuming this is going to affect Ballet West’s return to the stage.

Meanwhile, across the world YAGP has successfully hosted the international heats, while the American heats are up in the air and this overwhelming case of uncertainty gives me anxiety.

Like most schools and companies across the US, this pandemic has ravaged business, destroyed dreams, and plagued students. 

The efforts of mask wearing is exhausting, but in my experience works extremely well. But, not everyone in the dance world wants to follow suit, which is totally fine. Everyone is entitled to run their business how they see fit, this isn’t a political post. 

But for me personally, the pandemic has taken its toll on my soul. The art and world that I love so dearly is crumbling. The uncertainty of ballet companies being able to hire over the next three years is grim. The possibility that every pre-professional school will be flooding their programs for dollars, when it’s time to re-open is very high. And ballet companies seem to not want to reinvent themselves during this time, leaving them institutions of the past.

Dancers have this way of living in the past, reminiscing about “the good days,” and have this inherent love for nostalgia. Remembering the Balanchine Era or the Ballet Russes era, the power houses of that brought down the house of the 80’s, the technicians and tricksters of the 90’s, and the primas of the early 00’s. Each of these times seem to be revisited, talked about, and glorified. But it’s time to move on and look forward if we want to save the art and world we live in.

So, what is next?

Ballet and being relatable. There are dancers of this generation making ballet accessible and relatable- but it seems their employers don’t want to recognize or finance their efforts. In today’s world of Instagram and Social Media influencers, there is an affiliates program. Programs that you make money off of when you are responsible for a lead or sale. While I see these dancers attempting to help their organizations, most aren’t being compensated for it. And yes, it is a team effort to save these organizations that we all love so much, but dancers should be compensated for the work that they are doing. 

Crowdfunding and sourcing is a big part of today’s world, and it would be more effective for ballet companies if companies were more accessible but the reality is that these companies aren’t accessible, the dancers are. 

Then you have influencers who are not affiliated with companies that are doing exceptional things, and they should be compensated as well. There are individual artist platforms like Patreon that help individual artists thrive to create digital media content. But, collectively, being conscious that the world we love so much isn’t progressing because of executive directors, but because individual people, dancers, and influencers keep creating content that is relevant. 

These individuals on Instagram are literally the mouthpiece and physical representation of these organizations. What would ABT or PNB be without their star-studded rosters? And these social media superstars are the driving force behind asking for donations. I see all these dancers advertising their digital seasons, asking for donations, and even seeing the links in their profiles. They should have affiliate links, so companies can track who is bringing in what. It’s not that hard to create individually tracked links. But, if their world is out of touch with how social media works… well they can call me 🙂

Lastly, in this ever-changing world, a thought that has been constantly on my mind is…. Are unions like AGMA and the theatre union helping or hindering ballet?

What are your thoughts?