Earlier this month we broke down branding—why it’s important and how to get started.
But don’t take our word for it!
We connected with top dance agent, Lucille Di Campli, about why branding is critical for dancers (and choreographers, directors, and educators) in this new and ever-evolving landscape. For reference, Di Campli is the Founder and Director of LDC Artist Representation in New York City. Her clients have worked on Broadway, TV, film, commercials, and both domestic and international tours.
“When it comes to branding, it can be hard for people to take the first step,” explains Di Campli. “If you’re used to being a back-up dancer on tour or in an ensemble of a Broadway show, stepping into the spotlight can be intimidating. Branding is all about owning This is who I am.”
Since COVID hit, it has become increasingly more important for artists to have a clear brand and strong online presence. In the past, choreographers and casting directors could take individual meetings, see live performances, and, of course, hold in-person auditions. Right now, castings are primarily done via self-tape. But if a creative team wants to see more, they turn to Google.
What they do (or don’t) find can either boost or inhibit your chances of booking a gig.
“A dancer’s brand is everything from their website and social media to their photos, logo, merchandise, and printed material,” explains Di Campli. “It’s the whole package. It’s all the pieces of you lined up to ‘say’ the same thing. The look, the feel, and the message should all be clear.”
Nowhere in Di Campli’s quote does she note the company you’re with, the shows you’ve done, or the union affiliations you have. Your brand is not your resume. Read that again.
However, your credits and experiences do support your brand. Think of it this way…When COVID hit and your show closed, your company took a hiatus, or your studio’s dance competition got cancelled, you were still you even though those things weren’t there.
Your brand is who you are at your core.
All the other stuff is icing on the cake.
“Branding takes some soul-searching,” notes Di Campli. “It’s important to ask yourself, Who am I? What do I want to say about me? What makes me different from everyone else?”
Remember, you can’t be all things to all people. But if you do the internal work and express yourself authentically in your branding, the right projects and opportunities that come your way will be in line with your goals and values. It’s almost a form of manifestation.
So, how can your brand represent your authentic self? Well, that is entirely up to you.
Your online presence can be completely professional (edited photoshoots, high-quality reels, etc.), include raw footage (class clips, unfiltered selfies, etc.), feature aspects of your personal life, or create a balance of all three.
What’s important to remember is that everything you post should be in line with your brand. There’s a responsibility attached to whatever you share (or don’t share) and you have to be willing to stand by what you put up on your social media.
“Of course, I am not discouraging people from speaking their minds or living their lives how they choose to,” says Di Campli. “However, I have had clients who got passed up on projects as a result of their social media.” Not all brands, companies, and people will align with the same beliefs as you. And you might be overlooked on some jobs as a result. Conversely, staying true to yourself and expressing your beliefs may connect you with those projects and people that truly support your brand.
“Social media started as a way to connect socially,” Di Campli notes. “Now, it is accessed by potential employers—especially in our industry.” It’s a strange blurred line between professional and personal. If you have any hesitations about what you want to post, there is also the option of having separate public and private accounts.
Let’s get into the nitty gritty. What exactly constitutes a strong online presence? Here’s some best practices…
- Features a clean and professional layout
- Includes your current headshot, dance shots, and updated resume
- Has a dance reel (and ideally additional dance clips, vocal sample, etc.)
- Lists your contact information (either your phone/email or your agent’s)
- Links to your social media channels
Curates content that aligns with your values, goals, and aesthetic
- Incorporates engaging imagery, video, and written content
Credits photos appropriately
- This means getting permission to post photos from your show/company’s press team, tagging photographers/makeup artists, etc.
- There can be a lot of regulations around social media posting—especially when you’re working on TV and film projects. If you’re not sure if you’re allowed to post something, always ask.
Has a significant following
- Yes, your follower count can impact your booking bigger commercial projects. But you want your engagement to align with your audience…If you have 1M follower but only get 100 likes per post, something’s off.
Helps your audience get to know you
- Your social media should give us a sense of who you are beyond the stage. Choreographers, clothing designers, and photographers look at accounts and wonder, Does this person seem like a good fit for my project? Will this person be enjoyable to work with? And fans always love peeking behind the curtain at what a professional dancer’s life looks like on a day-to-day basis.
- Social media is a two-way street. It’s not a billboard advertisement that people drive by. Use your platforms to network, respond to comments and direct messages, and connect with peers, pros, and companies you admire.