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Dancers on social media


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What are members' views/experiences on the use of social media by ballet companies and artists?  I was prompted to post this having last night gone onto a new platform called Periscope, which hangs off the Twitter user base, and ended up having a direct Q&A session with Iana Salenko, which was excellent - in effect she was talking live to camera in her hotel room somewhere, and users typing in questions for her, which she then read out and answered. It was a great engagement, well at least once she'd filtered out the wackos. Iana I think is having an orchestrated campaign to up her profile as she is very active on multiple platforms. On Instagram there are quite a few RB and ENB dancers who post interesting pictures of their tours, rehearsals etc, but there are also a few from US companies who seem to make a few bucks on the side posing in skimpy sportswear which I suspect are aimed at a different audience...  I look occasionally at Twitter, which feels more corporate and PR-ed; but useful as a place to pick up Tamara's latest thoughts.  Facebook is a mixed bag - on the one hand there are quite a few Russian dancers who run personal pages and react to comments, on the other there are some very dodgy ballet enthusiast groups where I've ended up unsubscribing because of the photos they post.  Mixed bag then but overall positive for me.

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I'm primarily a Twitter user, and to be honest, I'm mostly interested in artists who post normal everyday things about their work and lives that I can relate to, rather than those who use their accounts for more commercial reasons.  As adorable as his little daughter is, I'm getting a little tired of Steven McRae posting baby-photos with corporate accounts like Baby Gap tagged in them when they've obviously supplied the outfit.  Likewise Eric Underwood's tweets of the results of some of his modelling photoshoots for Premier.  I'm also not that interested on social media in artists who only ever tweet about their upcoming engagements or about how marvellous all their colleagues are.  It's up to them how they use their accounts (and Eric in particular is also good for a bit of ordinary banter on Twitter, he doesn't JUST post pictures) but I tend not to find them very engaging.

 

The artists I tend to relate to are the ones who post about their art and their performances but who also say things which tell me I have something in common with them as people.  People of my own generation (often, in the case of dancers, a bit younger than me) who obviously work hard and love what they do, but who also talk about the everyday idiosyncrasies of being out and about in London, or who post (or invite) the odd restaurant, shop or salon recommendation.  People who give the impression that if I bumped into them in a coffee shop, we'd actually have something to make ordinary small talk about.  The same goes for opera singers - there are lots of opera singers I like as artists who I find totally uninteresting or non-relatable-to on social media, but others with whom I've immediately sensed a lot of common ground, which has led to several in-person friendships.

Edited by RuthE
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I agree, there are those who come across quite down to earth and engaged with everyday life, and some who are more aloof or 'managed'.  Sometimes other characteristics or talents emerge that make them worth following irrespective of the ballet connection - Maria Kochetkova for example is very quirky and frequently very amusing on Instagram, and Mathilde Froustey posts absolutely superb travel photos (from a Hasselblad, no less).

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To add to my post above: my favourite Royal Ballet tweeter has to be Gary Avis.  He comes across as endlessly passionate about his work, but doesn't take himself too seriously; also posts about his lovely dogs, the charity work he's involved in with his partner, and the trials of commuting from Suffolk.  And is also just obviously a sweetheart.  Other favourite RB tweeters include Lauren Cuthbertson & Olivia Cowley (for the sort of ordinary woman-about-town stuff I can personally relate to, along with interesting or funny ballet stuff), the charming, interesting and intelligent Genesia Rosato, and Anna Rose O'Sullivan, whose joie de vivre is as evident in her tweets as it is in her dancing.

 

Edited to add: between them, Gary and Lauren had a lot to do with me becoming a regular ballet-goer in the first place.  They engaged with me on Twitter back in 2011 at a time when I was just starting to explore ballet, having been to almost nothing but opera for years, and Lauren effectively dared me to try more.  Nowadays I'm probably at the ballet an average of once a week.

Edited by RuthE
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I think it must be difficult for a ballet dancer to balance their stage perceptions of Princes, Princess and Swans etc... to the everyday life routine of being a ballet dancer.

 

From the comments above, I totally agree about Steve Mcrae and from his dancing to him as a person I think he would say that he actively pursues the limelight and recognition, and that self-promotion is nothing to be ashamed about. I think that since Salenko danced with him this season, she has also been influenced by this noticeably in the past weeks. Then it must be said, it works, she is on the cover of Dance magazine this month, as well as being in many articles with Mcrae. For my taste its borderline, a bit bad taste, and not something a professional machine like Misty Copeland (whose machine I find is way OTT), and maybe a little advice would help them. Xander is also getting a little push in this direction I think. But they are very talented dancers and why not embrace a part of this market.

 

I think its easier for someone like the lovely Gary Avis to be open and down to earth, and his characters and online persona is a little more inline with his social media posts - a bit quirky, fun and open.

 

I would say, for me, I see social media as a way of seeing more photographs and getting to know what all of the dancers are doing, in terms of galas, training, and some nice photos. My online favourites for these purposes are Roberto Bolle, Viktorina Kapitonova, and Xander Parish.

 

EDIT: I follow the British performers too, but have seen only a few live, so no offence ;)

Edited by SwissBalletFan
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  • 1 month later...

I am interested in views on dancers being on social media e.g. facebook, instagram, twitter, and how much should be shared? Does it spoil the illusion created on stage if you then see the same dancer posting pictures of their personal life e.g. parties, holidays, relationships etc.

 

Are dancers who use social media to build their brand / profile actually more successful than those who don't in securing contracts, promotions?

 

If you know that a dancer doesn't behave very well off stage or isn't a nice person, does it affect how you view their on stage ability?

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Tabitha, this subject was raised a couple of months ago.  I have merged your comment in to the extant thread and perhaps it will encourage more discussion.

 

Depending upon how they post it can, IMHO enhance my enjoyment of their performances.

 

Since I joined twitter over 5 years ago I think a lot more people in the entertainment world have realised that what goes on the internet stays on the internet and have become more careful about how they post.  (Or at least I hope they have!)

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Like RuthE above, I tend to warm far more to those dancers who use Twitter etc. For more everyday, personal interactions. On the other hand, why not use the social media occasionally for a bit of self-promotion? However, there's a line to be drawn here. There are a handful of dancers who (IMO) take this to saturation point - you can't open Twitter, Instagram, or whatever without seeing yet another "Here's me again in the studio"; " Here's another video/photo of me with X"; "Want to watch me stretch? Here I am again" type of posts. I'm not naming the dancers; I'm sure most people who use social media will know what I mean anyway. To me (again, my personal opinion), this is too much and I just think "enough"!! These are good dancers, they don't need to ram the fact constantly down people's throats.

 

It does actually make me struggle to do them justice when I see them dance because it colours my view of them as people. And that is probably very unfair of me, I admit, but that is how it makes me feel.

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I know someone who has just started a new job; she was given a list of rules about what she could and could not do on social media as she is now a representative of that company even when she is off-duty.

 

I wonder if companies' media officers give guidelines on how to use social media sensibly?   

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Like RuthE above, I tend to warm far more to those dancers who use Twitter etc. For more everyday, personal interactions. On the other hand, why not use the social media occasionally for a bit of self-promotion? However, there's a line to be drawn here. There are a handful of dancers who (IMO) take this to saturation point - you can't open Twitter, Instagram, or whatever without seeing yet another "Here's me again in the studio"; " Here's another video/photo of me with X"; "Want to watch me stretch? Here I am again" type of posts. I'm not naming the dancers; I'm sure most people who use social media will know what I mean anyway. To me (again, my personal opinion), this is too much and I just think "enough"!! These are good dancers, they don't need to ram the fact constantly down people's throats.

.

 

I know what you mean Balletfanp. Although I am not a 'friend' on Facebook of certain dancers, I am assailed almost daily by photos (of one in particular) because my 'friends' have liked their posts. Does it affect my response to their dancing? Maybe slightly insofar as I 'know' the dancers concerned a little better but I don't think that this is in other than a positive way. I rather like the fact that people who have to work so hard for their art can be real live human beings (warts and all like the rest of us) off stage.

 

Edited to say that a clip of a male dancer (taken in the interval of RB's Nutcracker failing to solve a puzzle) has just come up on Facebook and it shows this delightful man very much as he comes across on stage.

Edited by capybara
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I use Twitter and it is a great insight to the work that goes into a performance as well as the ordinary things like train delays (poor Gary!) and it is just so nice when a dancer acknowledges you for saying you like their work etc.  I am one who looks out more for those dancers when I see a performance if I follow them because I have more interest in them as others have said above.  Also some of the lower rank dancers don't seem to get much thanks or praise so I have had some tweet me back to say it means such a lot to them when I have tweeted a thank you.

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Well, I think that dancers reveal quite a lot about their personalities when they use social media prolifically and what they say and post does affect my opinion of them. One thing that dancers really shouldn't do is moan about touring (particularly the cities or places they are touring to) and their performance schedules. It's really off-putting and makes them sound really bratty. I've wondered whether the companies caution dancers about their use of social media or have guidelines about it. It's a difficult one because dancers' social media accounts are personal and they have a right to a private life but they are representatives of the company as well. One well known critic responded very sharply to a dancer who complained about her performance schedule on Twitter, reminding her that dancing in The Nutcracker was a privilege, and I think that she has been a bit more careful about her posts since (she is a bit of a moaner and I can't say that I warm to her because of this and for other reasons as well). The general public don't want to hear that a dancer finds it a chore to dance in a performance which they are going to as a Christmas treat and which they may have saved up for for months.

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I use Twitter and it is a great insight to the work that goes into a performance as well as the ordinary things like train delays (poor Gary!) and it is just so nice when a dancer acknowledges you for saying you like their work etc.  I am one who looks out more for those dancers when I see a performance if I follow them because I have more interest in them as others have said above.  Also some of the lower rank dancers don't seem to get much thanks or praise so I have had some tweet me back to say it means such a lot to them when I have tweeted a thank you.

 

 

Good point DQF.  I often tweet dancers if I have enjoyed a performance and most seem really chuffed to hear feedback.

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I rather like the fact that people who have to work so hard for their art can be real live human beings (warts and all like the rest of us) off stage.

I know we are all human, but I am not sure I want to see the warts and all as I can't help thinking about it when I see them on stage, when all I really want is to be transported into another unattainable universe.

 

It may be that if you are in and around ballet and the ballet community a lot then you are quite comfortable with seeing their real lives. But as Aileen points out, some people only touch this world once or twice a year and may be shocked to see some of the reality of their Sugar Plum Fairy's life.

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Okay Janet we now know who it is!!

 

I'm just that generation a bit too old for Twitter I'm afraid ......though obviously don't speak for all.....I'm only this year really getting used to being more active on Facebook!!

 

To be honest I'm mostly only interested in the more ballet related material and activities and maybe performance mishaps etc of dancers on the whole and I only rarely leave comments on the pages of Dancers I've liked. The other day Marienela Nunez responded to something I'd said and I did feel really chuffed but still somewhat guilty about talking to the stars like this!!

 

In the end though it's the quality of their dancing that counts for me not now they may come across on any social media platform.

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the stars are only people after all. I love hearing about their lives off-stage, and also feel chuffed when I get any sort of response to a message I've sent, or a comment made, or whatever. For me, makes me appreciate all the more, their skills at transporting us to 'another world' when they do go on stage - and I am never tempted to think of them as the real person they are, once the costumes and pointe shoes are on.  :-)

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the stars are only people after all. I love hearing about their lives off-stage, and also feel chuffed when I get any sort of response to a message I've sent, or a comment made, or whatever. For me, makes me appreciate all the more, their skills at transporting us to 'another world' when they do go on stage - and I am never tempted to think of them as the real person they are, once the costumes and pointe shoes are on.  :-)

 

 

You've expressed my thoughts with great eloquence there Dave.  Thanks for articulating what I have been trying to think how to say!

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