Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Dance World: We have a problem.

Attention all dancers, choreographers, dance critics, dance students, dance teachers, dance theorists, dance analysts, dance lovers, movers and shakers: We have a problem. 

We are imploding in on ourselves. 

Here's how I figure it: I am a tenured, well educated, deeply passionate, and superbly interested dance artist.  But, I often feel like I have NO idea what is going on the dance world. And, I feel like my sharing with the dance world is like someone screaming into a pillow in a sound proof room. I often feel like my social media posts are less like ripple creating pebbles thrown into a pond of potential and more like a pebble being thrown into the Grand Canyon never to be seen again. 

It's a problem!  

But here is the secret, dancers... Social media only works if people drive it. There is nothing magical about social media. You can't just start a twitter account and expect to get thousands of followers. Social media doesn't do that... We do that. But, the magic of social media is that when it reaches a tipping point, it does seem to perpetuate itself. A few comments from a large body of participants makes for a lot of sharing. But, if the social media engine is being driven by just a few people it can't go very far or very fast. 

I love dance because I love the feeling of lying on the ground, sensing the dance floor beneath me and the weight of my skin covering my bones. This is the experience of dance. The phenomena of dance as an act, a state, a way of life. But the world has grown and ideas are worth sharing. We all feel the need to connect with artists of like mind.  We all want to be inspired and to feel empowered by the solidarity of dance as a shared entity. But in order to feel this, we need to share. And we need to listen. 

The dance world is full of amazing projects, performances and events. But unless we have an effective platform to share these experiences and their documentation, the efforts can be easily overlooked, forgotten, or subsumed by the rest of the non-dance media that pours into our inboxes everyday.  There are platforms out there, BUT we as the members of the dance world have to use it, have to promote it, have to take the time to document and post so the dance world is fertilized by the greatness that already exists within it.  

How you can help the dance world through social media: Pick your Platform

Twitter: is for word people. I like calling it micro blogging. 140 characters to get to the heart of the point and share a link to more info. Can you have in depth conversations in 140 characters? No. But, you can link to articles and discussion forums and blogs that do. And, you might surprise yourself by what you can express in such few characters. 

Facebook: is used most for friends, family, and promotion of events. It combines text, image and video. Then isn't it the best if it does it all?  Well... FB tends to be used for personal communication more than professional communication, so your audience is subject to both aspects if your life (if you choose to use it this way). It can be confusing and things can be lost in the shuffle of people posting images of their tasty dinners. 

Vine: is a video app in which you share 6 second videos that are looped. What vine figure out it that most anything is funny when it is looped endlessly in 6 sec increments. Vine is not about words, it is about catching and sharing a moment. This could be interesting for dance, but so far I haven't connected with a "dance scene" on Vine.

Linked in: a place for your résumé. However, I recently learned that it is searchable by Google (unlike some other social media sites). Which can be great for branding and getting your business identity more exposure. 

Google+: is kinda like FB, except you get to put people in categories so that you can communicate with your colleagues differently that your family or friends. It also has great tools for conference chatting (Google Hangouts), community forums for groups or clubs with access to google drives as well.  Can you tell if is my new favorite thing?  (BTW join the DACCC* today!)

There are others and each has different perks, but the key is not what the program is as much as WHO is using it. When you connect with people on Social Media in a meaningful way, that platform gains more importance in your life, and you are likely to keep using it. But, if you don't use it, you are not going to get anything out of it. People need to share their ideas, questions and comments in order for the machine to work at all. And, everyone has something to share. But, also we need to share beyond our immediate circles!

So, today I challenge you to choose your platform of choice and post your answer to one or more of the following dance related question:

What topic about dance has been on your mind? What questions surround this topic? What are you current experiences with it? What have you learned? What new understanding have you gained?  

Keep your post short and to the point. Share with your colleagues. Then, and most importantly, find and respond to two posts (outside of your immediate circle) and share them with your own community. What did you like/ dislike about them?  Start the discussion.

Notice whether this process gave you a deeper understanding of your topic/question?  Did you learn something new in the process?  

Of course you did!  This is the power of sharing. 

Go on! Post!

*DACCC- Dance Association for California Community Colleges

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