In today’s world, we’re all too familiar with social media’s pros and cons. Its influence can be felt in every area of life and in every industry—including the dance industry. While social media can be a positive force, it can also have a negative impact on dancers and how you view your career. When it comes to social media, what I’ve unfortunately witnessed most among dancers is growing feelings of irrelevancy and an impulsivity to give up too soon.
Feeling irrelevant is nothing new. In my view, it’s just your mind telling you to search for new and fresh goals. It’s not unusual to experience occasional lethargy after hustling for months on end. Not long ago though, the solution to this used to be simpler. You could look into a mirror, remember why you chose this path, and find contentment and fulfillment in the many victories you already achieved in your career. You’d wake up the next day, ready to work, rehearse, choreograph, and teach or perform with a whole renewed energy. Unfortunately today, things seem to be a little more complicated.
Now, you’re inundated with your peers’ successes, victories, and achievements virtually every minute of your day on platforms like Instagram and Twitter. These serve as a constant reminder that you’re just not doing enough even when you’re usually doing more than you think! This pressure to meet unrealistic expectations of relevancy in the industry can lead dancers to post on social media too much and, at times, share what’s not their best work. Then there’s falling into the endless pursuit of more likes, follows, and attention or simply trying to appear busy to those who may not really have any direct influence on your career.
When you try to do all of this and the expectations you’ve developed are not met, you may feel like there’s no place in the industry for you. I’ve personally witnessed incredibly skilled dancers thinking about giving up on their craft simply because their social media following doesn’t seem to grow or their work is not getting the approval they expected from these platforms.
I have to admit I’ve also been through moments like this occasionally, but here’s what I do to stay motivated that might work for you too.
First of all, keep in mind that social media is a tool and should be treated as such. Don’t depend on it for survival. I’m not big on the idea of building a career solely based on a specific social media platform presence. Social media platforms are a fad and something new will come up eventually. Your website, creativity, and connections with people are real and here to stay. Feel free to post professional work on social media to engage with your followers and peers, but if you don’t get the “likes” you expected, don’t let that stop you from sharing your creativity with the world.
Treating social media as a tool means that you’re doing your job by simply posting. Those who seek to employ you will find a way to see it. Consider that there’s a whole world out there with real people and that your artistic relevance is not solely based on approval from strangers or numbers on a screen. Don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth and networking.
Keep a healthy mind, update your website, and continue to train with those who you want to progress with. A producer or director who can offer you serious work may not have an Instagram profile and so if you only post there and not anywhere else like your website, you’ll limit yourself and miss the chance to get your work seen.
All in all, social media is extremely important and I would never deny its weight on the life of today’s common professional dancer. But when it impairs your ability to stay positive and creative, it’s important to remember what life used to be like before all of this. The world is still out there. Explore it and keep sharing your craft.
*This post was originally published on April 12, 2019. It has since been updated.
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