Dance Industry 101: tips for building your personal dance brand to stand out in the crowd
In the age of social media, casting directors, audition panels and agents can find out everything about you before you've even stepped into the audition room. Curating your online presence and creating a personal brand can help you to secure employment and respect in the dance industry. Ex-performer Jamie Body, who runs a branding and social media company for creative artists, has the following advice about maximising your social media impact and driving your dance career in the right direction with personal branding.
What is a brand?
A mistake many creatives make is not seeing themselves as a brand. As a brand you are a product and like every product you will work better in certain markets. You will learn over time that you have to grow, change or even rebrand to keep selling, or in the case of a dancer in order to keep booking work. Your brand is an extension of who you are and what you have to offer. It is who you are when you are in and out of the audition room, it’s what people see online and it’s definitely what people say about you. The good thing is that there is a market for everyone in the creative industry and once you master your personal brand it will help you to book work. You have spent years and lots of money on training and honing your skills and you want to see the R.O.I on that. So here is a marketing term for you – R.O.I means Return On Investment. This is so important - in a performer's career the R.O.I is both money and work. What’s the point in spending countless hours in front of a mirror learning new dance styles or spending lots of money on taking class if you are not going to be rewarded for that hard work?
So what is a personal brand?
I like to think of your personal brand as 'what someone says about you when you leave the room’. You may be reading this and think you don’t have a personal brand. Wrong! You already have one. Not many people have actively curated their personal brand but your personal brand has been forming for a while. Teachers & choreographers have spoken about you after class and at auditions, friends and family have posted photos of you and there may be a review or two online from a show you have been in - these are all part of your personal brand.
So now you are aware of it, you need to take control of it! Don’t let someone else determine your personal brand. You gain strength in the audition room, at meetings and on set when you know what your brand is and what you have to offer. Here are a few quick tips for you to take control of and define your personal brand.
Tip 1: Find your brand sentence
Make a list of your strengths, and really think about what you are good at or can offer. It could be physical attributes like your height or memorable hair, could be that you pick up and retain combinations quicker than most, it could be that you are an amazing choreographer as well as a dancer. Then ask your friends, agent, family, colleagues.
Your challenge now is to put these strengths into a readable sentence that if anyone asks you who you are or what you do you can tell them. In marketing we would say this is your ‘elevator pitch’. If you were alone in an elevator with someone who is very influential and that you would like to work with, how would you introduce who you are and what you do in a short space of time?
Tip 2: Use Social Media
Social media has become a casting tool. If you can google a casting director or choreographer then they can also google you. Make sure that the talent the panel see in the audition room continues across to your social media. If you have an amazing showreel online then you must match that in the audition room and not just be a whizz at editing! Equally, if you are amazing in the audition room but the agency or casting director want to see more they will search for you online to see what else you have to offer or to confirm what they saw. Make sure your website and social media channels are up-to-date and really showcase who you are.
If you just won an award or are in an upcoming production make sure you mention these on your social media bios and website. So many performers wait until they are finishing a show to then try and look for work or a new agent. Get ahead of the game!
Tip 3: Your image both online and offline needs to match your brand
Get headshots that show your brand. If you are a character actor get those shots done, if you are a dancer and you love fitness then get shots that show both sides of you - if you are a multifaceted performer, show people! If you play an instrument to a professional level as well as dance get a picture of you playing your instrument at a gig. Every aspect of your image must reflect your brand.
Let's say that some values that make up your brand/brand sentence are that you are a creative choreographer working on a touring project, you love helping dancers to connect with their body and you are looking for more international and travelling opportunities. As a simple post for when you take a week off of the hustle and auditioning to go to NYC, but still want to stay on brand, would be to take a photo and caption it 'In NYC for the week and about to see my second Broadway show'. This still links to that fact you are a creative but that you are human and need downtime.
Your brand can help or hinder you when it comes to getting work as a performer so make sure you take control of it. If you are an amazing singer or dancer then make sure that your C.V, your website, your pictures and your social media all say that about you - think about what people say about you when you leave the room. It doesn't have to be all business and no play though! Social media can also be a chance for people to have a look into your life and show them that you are human and relatable.
Jamie’s career has spanned across TV, Film and Theatre and both in front and behind the scenes. He has danced on shows such as The Voice, Mr Selfridge, BGT, as well as in movies like Goodbye Christopher Robin, Avengers: Age of Ultron and A Royal Night Out. He has also worked internationally with companies like Disney, Feld Entertainment and Royal Caribbean as well as dancing on productions and shows for BBC, ITV, Craig David and Top of the Pops. As an entertainment reporter he has worked the red carpet at the Olivier Awards, worked on Meridian Radio and interviewed the likes of Cuba Gooding Jr, Mel Gibson, Christian Slater and John Lithgow and regularly reports for Broadway World UK. His branding and social media company has worked with West End musicals, actors, dancers, authors, fitness instructors and even a magician!
You can find out more about Jamie's services or reach out to him for a branding help on his website and follow him on social media for more branding and social media tips and tricks.
Article by Jamie Body
Photographs of Jamie: Supplied