Social media. Every aspect of our lives has been affected by it, including our friendships, travel, jobs, education, and entertainment. In a technical sense, social media refers to any website or programme that lets people publish content on a social network. Think for a second about how frequently you use social media each day. That includes websites like Yelp, blogs, YouTube, Pinterest, Reddit, and many more in addition to Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, Twitter, and Snapchat. Our lives, as well as how we utilise social media in them, have entirely turned upside down over the past year and a half. Social media has made it possible for us to meet new friends and re-connect with old ones through times of isolation and separation. Due to technology and social media, businesses were still able to exist even after their seasons were cancelled.
But is everything good? Do we rely on social media too much, and does spending too much time on technology harm our mental health? Social media has both beneficial and detrimental affects on our society as a whole, but how does it specifically impact the dance community? Let’s look more closely.
PRO: So much dance
Dancers, choreographers, teachers, audiences, and fans can broadcast and share dance to an almost limitless online audience through social media. We have a wealth of historical data, archive information, and graphic resources at our disposal, and we are constantly being swamped with fresh, original stuff.
CON: Tech neck
The bad posture we’ve acquired from slouching over our cell phones, keyboards, and laptops is known as “tech neck.” Joy Karley, a ballet and Pilates instructor at the Broadway Dance Center, is concerned that the posture of today’s tweens is that of an elderly person. Attend Pilates and ballet lessons to build up your upper back muscles, and when you do use technology, pay attention to how your head and neck are positioned.
Beyond those seeing dance on television or in a live theatre, social media has expanded the genre’s appeal. We may interact with dancers and organisations all over the world in addition to simply watching.
Online publication of your creative work can be tremendously daunting. It’s simple to become fixated on your social media following and how other users react to your material. It’s common to feel inadequate as a result of this comparison.
PRO: Bringing live dance to your living room
In order to continue promoting their work during COVID, directors and choreographers turned to technology and social media when dance companies’ performances were postponed or the theatres were shut down. Showing that not even a pandemic could stop the dancing industry, classes and behind-the-scenes footage were made available on Instagram Live, and whole full-length productions were live-streamed on YouTube and Facebook.
CON: There’s nothing like live, in-person performance, though.
Will some directors still prefer the virtual performance option over a live, in-person show even after the pandemic and after all theatres have returned to normal? Nothing compares to the sensation of being surrounded by strangers while seeing a performance in a room full of people. The hour and a half is set out for savouring the very unique live art form of dancing; there are no snacks to be eaten, no interruptions from the above neighbour, nothing.
Simply said, social media is that. It encourages interaction between creators and audiences and, when done well, frequently encourages deep discourse.
CON: Filming class
Dance class should be a secure environment where students may take risks without feeling embarrassed if they fail or make mistakes. Even while videotaping dance classes is becoming common (particularly in musical theatre, jazz, and street styles), this shouldn’t be the main focus of the lesson. Additionally, it is now so commonplace for dancers to videotape class combinations on the side of the studio without first getting permission from the instructor or the other students.
Dancers have always been viewed as something to be seen, not heard. Now, both our individual and collective voices are becoming increasingly powerful.
CON: Filming performances
Consider how many spectators are using their iPhone cameras the next time you’re at a live theatre play. It’s astounding. Filming live performances is not only unlawful and takes away from the magic of the performance but also distracts the performers and other audience members.
Social media may be used by both businesses and people to develop their brands. Think of the image, copy and messaging of New York City Ballet or Broadway Dance Center. To discover how well-known dancers like Katie Boren, Ashley Everett, or Maddie Ziegler use social media to express their personalities and skills, check out their channels as well.
CON: Getting jobs
Casting directors frequently request for social media handles on resumes, both in the commercial and theatre industries. Your internet presence and following count both have a major impact on whether you get a big job.
Social media is a haven for hate, whether it takes the form of rumours, criticism, or downright abuse. People sometimes post things they would never say in person because for some reason they feel more comfortable venting their complaints online. For instance, one dancer made fun of a current Broadway production in a Facebook post. A few months later, that dancer made her Broadway debut in that same production and had to individually apologise to every cast member. Our industry is challenging enough. Don’t add to the hatred.
Teachers, choreographers, studios, and performing arts organisations have access to free (and also reasonably priced) marketing tools on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter. It is now much simpler to promote lessons, performances, and services as well as raise awareness of problems in our neighbourhood (such as #boysdoballet).
In addition to filming classes these days, auditions are frequently captured on camera as well. Although behind-the-scenes videos are always fascinating and excellent for promoting a new show, the increased strain they put on dancers during auditions is their worst nightmare.
Social media rules of thumb:
1. Keep class a safe space.
Respect the dance studio’s purity. First and first, the classroom should be a place that fosters growth, creativity, and artistic expression. Ask everyone in the studio for permission before starting to record the class if you (the teacher or the student) want to do so, and wait until the very, very end of the session.
2. Live theater should be experienced live.
Every day, we spend more than three hours on our phones. Put your phone aside when you are attending a live concert so that you can fully immerse yourself in the experience. Inspire your fellow students to follow suit.
3. Advertise classes that will be filmed.
The ability to dance for the camera is incredible! If you wish to concentrate on this, make sure to promote your class appropriately and give yourself enough time to explain and demonstrate how dance for cinema differs from dancing for theatre.
4. Always be professional.
That applies to your on-stage, in-studio, and online performances. No matter how talented you are, your reputation always precedes you in this extremely small industry. Ensure that it is something you can be proud of.
5. Dance for you.
Don’t dance to get likes, comments, or with the intention of going viral. Keep in mind the importance of producing art with significance, developing your skills, and performing for the sheer joy of it.
Read more: How To Dance Like Bruno Mars