Last week we dove deep into the ins and outs of branding.
But explaining the how-to’s only goes so far.
The proof is in the pudding, as they say.
So, we decided to hear firsthand from professional dancer, Nikita Boris, about how her experience cultivating her brand has affected both her life and career.
“In today’s world, social media has become an integral part of our daily lives,” Boris explains. “Because of this, the image that you put out on social media has a tremendous influence and reach. In the dance world, social media has become a powerful tool for connecting dancers, choreographers, companies, dance photographers, and more. Through branding, dancers can establish clarity in their voice and identity to represent themselves in a professional (hirable!) manner online.”
To Boris, your brand is composed of your story, voice, intended audience, expertise, values, and the consistency of all of these variables in your online presence. Consistency is the most important of these elements. It is what solidifies your brand.
Boris formed her own brand (@nikita_ballerina on Instagram) around her day-to-day life as a professional ballet dancer. This includes aspects of her cross-training (yoga, workouts, etc.), rehearsals, performances, photoshoots, health, and thoughts around the art form.
Boris makes sure to prioritize that she is an artist first and foremost. “Ballet is an ever-evolving art form,” she explains, “but individuality and artistry must be upheld. I work to maintain authenticity, positivity, and vulnerability in my voice.”
Boris took part in our Social Media Power Program during a year that she was between ballet companies. “It was a very difficult time for me,” she recalls, “and I knew that I needed to step it up in order to find some freelance work and prepare for audition season. When Rachel Neville told me about this program geared at helping dancers understand the business side of their careers, I felt it would be the perfect fit to coincide with my situation.”
The process of cultivating her brand was personal and internal. “I had to dig deep into questions like, Who is Nikita? What is my story? What do I want to share with my followers and why?,” Boris explains. “I put a lot of time and energy into the initial phases of defining my brand, building my social media, and keeping track of connections.”
The process was tedious but ultimately rewarding. Boris grew her Instagram following from 4k to 7k in just over a year. Through her connections on social media, she has received work modeling, teaching, guesting, and promoting brands on her feed (including being a brand ambassador for Discount Dance Supply).
“I feel that cultivating my brand also provided me with an opportunity for personal growth,” adds Boris. “The self-reflection was very healing for me.”
But while you want your audience to get to know the real you through your brand, where do you draw the line between professional and personal?
“The pandemic has made this even more complicated since our social lives are heavily focused online right now rather than in-person,” Boris notes. “I try to keep my Instagram feed very professional. Occasionally, I will post family and friends, but this is mostly kept for my story or ‘close friends’ story. I find it is better for my mental health when I maintain this boundary between my work life and the privacy of my personal life.”
And once you put the work in establishing your brand, it doesn’t end there. Branding is an active process.
“You must continue to create content reflecting your brand and allow that content to evolve,” Boris says. “That evolution could be due to personal circumstances, external influences, or changing times, and it can lead to an evolving or enhancement of your brand as well. For example, on Instagram that can mean changing the way you approach content, such as speaking directly, the introduction of more videos, making use of reels, or IGTV. This active process also involves maintenance of your brand. This means keeping up with posting, ensuring that posts are of good quality, following up with DMs, and continuously reaching out and engaging to make new connections.”
Once you get the ball rolling, continuing to explore, invest in, and enhance your brand can be both an exciting and empowering part of your career. If you want support as you’re getting started, check out our Social Media Power Program. “I would recommend the SMP Program to young dancers on a professional track, dancers between contracts, and to working dancers seeking to expand their reach on social media, establish a side business, or find additional work,” says Boris.
“The Rachel Neville Studios team guided and supported me throughout the process of finding my brand, establishing my goals, and helping me achieve them. It went beyond content creation…They helped me shift my mindset.”
Click here to learn more about the Social Media Power Program and follow Nikita Boris on Instagram at @nikita_ballerina.