Categories
dance concepts dance espresso

Why we need to separate creation from evaluation

Why do many people get stuck when they try to create new moves or routines? The answer is simple, but its impact is often underestimated, and therefore, people tend to ignore it. Creation and evaluation (analysis, assessment) are very different processes:

In creation mode, you want the ideas to flow freely.
Creativity is what you need.

In evaluation mode, you need to analyse your results from creation.
Logic is taking the lead here.

A popular scientific theory says that different sides of your brain are responsible for these two different tasks. And they don’t work well together. So if you try to do both at the same time, you are doing both inefficiently.

I can not comment if this theory is right or not, because I lack the scientific understanding. But I know that I work better when I only create at one time and judge later.

When you get stuck in your creation process, try to get rid of the voice in your head that wants to evaluate immediately. Film yourself and do that later. You will see the differences.

And finally, let’s grab a Dance Espresso over this topic:

Categories
business dance espresso

How to maintain a great signal to noise ratio?

When we talk about marketing, one of the things we should be aware of is our Signal/Noise ratio. The metaphor refers to a technical issue from analog radio broadcasts. When you communicate via radio, you have to listen on the same frequency as the sender is broadcasting and vice versa. If you are slightly off the frequency, you hear the broadcast but with a lot of hisses. If you are far away from the frequency you receive either only hiss, aka noise, or another signal (that you are not looking for).

Let’s grab a Dance Espresso over that topic:

What does Signal/Noise ration mean as a metaphor?

In times of social media, we all broadcast continuously with our posts, likes, shares, tweets, and whatever. If we are smart with our marketing strategy, and if we know our goals and artist identity, we aspire to send a lot of signal, while avoiding to add noise. Signal would be everything that aligns with our purposes, the message we want to spread, and the thing we want to be associated with. Noise is everything that has nothing to do with our signal or even distracts from it.

An example: when we want to spread a message about dancing, choreographing, and traveling the world, everything that is about our dancing and seeing exciting places works as a signal. But posting our daily coffee is a distraction, as are videos from our cats. Those two would be adding noise.

Who defines what noise is?

You do. Only you decide what it is that you want to “broadcast” to the world. It’s not essential what you send out if you only have a private channel and want to connect with friends. But as soon as your social media channels are part of your business, defining and sticking to your signal matters. It’s part of your promise to the world.

How much noise is fine?

Again, that is a question that only you can answer. It depends heavily on what strategy you have to connect with your followers. Noise is everywhere on the frequency spectrum, so it might help you to reach people you might not reach without it. But noise also waters down the value of your broadcast for everyone who is looking for your signal. As a rule of thumb: When you want to be perceived as an expert in your field and it is a niche, keep the noise level low. If you want to reach a broad audience, the noise percentage can be higher. If it’s not possible to differentiate between signal and noise, the noise is too high.

When I released my first book Dance Smart, I dived a little bit more into marketing and therefore stumbled upon this topic. While I am did a pretty good job with my Signal/Noise ratio on the blog, my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram Signal/Noise ratios sucked. I gradually improved that over 2020 but I am still not there

Categories
blog dance espresso

Social media is not the problem

Often we tend to feel that social media is keeping us from doing more important or more productive things. But saying social media is the problem is a serious misinterpretation of the case.

If we hang out online instead of doing stuff we want to do – the problem are our priorities. Because we just don’t want it enough. Facebook and friends can be ignored if we really have something to do.

via GIPHY

Recently I made a Dance Espresso about that topic. Bottom-line: we need to be the master of our digital life or we will become it’s slave.

Categories
business

Dance Business Possibilities: How to make it work

Last week we talked about the elements that we need to master to run a dance business (and I strongly believe it is the same for almost every other business). What we did not cover are the actual possibilities that we have to create income with. I separate those into primary possibilities and secondary ones. The primary ones being the things that directly involve your dancing skills and the secondary ones being things that you can apply your dance knowledge to and therefore turn them into dance-related work.

Let’s look at the primary ones. While all of these are very diverse on the inside, you can split it up into four general activities.

Performing

Performing can be summed up by “dancing for an audience”. It is not relevant what kind of “piece” you perform or in what “stage situation”. Productions can be contemporary pieces, dance theatre, muscials, commercial shows, streetshows and performing for movies, music videos or ads in front of a camera. If you put in the work, performing can bring you a stable income.

For most of us performing is done on a freelance base where you write an invoice and must take care of everything tax-related yourself. If you are really lucky you can get into a standing company that can employ you. In this case, they would pay for your insurance and tax. The downside of performing is that it is not completely in your hand how many shows you can do, because you never know how many gigs you will book.

Teaching is your solid base for any dance business

Out of these four primary work fields teaching is the one that is most reliable in terms of a steady income. It might not be the one you can earn the most money with, but it provides a good amount of stability and security. As soon as you have your classes established and running you know how many people come to you. Therefore you know how much cash will be in your pocket at the end of the month.

Teaching can be done as a freelancer or employed. Depending on the laws in your country, only one of these options might be legal. The downside of teaching: if you have a lot of classes it might feel like a regular job and can get boring if you are not good at motivating yourself.

Choreography

Creating the choreography for performances, shows or camerawork is one of the opportunities that can earn you a lot of money in a short time. If you are booked by a big production to do this job you develop the dance and rehearse with the cast until they can do it. Then your job is done.

While they do the performances, you are already good to go and work on the next job. Downside: You need some strong references or a good network to book the jobs that pay well.

Competing is part of the marketing for your dance business

You can earn money by winning battles. There is price money out there. But the events that have a proper amount of it are rare, and the competition is fierce. If you are not top of the pops – this will not work.

In my opinion, competitions should never be seen as an income stream. There are other reasons to join competitions like building your name, testing your skills and having fun, but for most of us, it is not an option to rely on.

So far so good, let’s look into some secondary possibilities that can directly benefit your dance career development:

Working in or running an artist agency

An evergreen that has tremendous value. If you are doing the booking in an agency that books dancers you might be able to book some good jobs for yourself or for your crew. As no serious agency gives gigs to people they don’t know you are going to meet a lot of people aspiring to a dance career that might be future colleagues on stages.

Therefore you are sitting on the source for jobs and potential new colleagues. Of course, your agency needs to be cool with you doing this, but if you do great work and have the skills to convince on stage, there should not be a problem. On a side note: if you are running the agency yourself it’s no problem at all.

Producing stage pieces

This one is big. It is a shitload of work but can pay off. I live in Austria and at the time I started there was no hip hop dance theatre in the country. In 2006 we started working on changing that – and we did. In the last 10 years, Austrian dance companies, crews and solo artists created more than 15 pieces in a genre that did not exist before in our country. I call this good work. *brofist to everyone who did a piece or show, you guys know who you are*

At the start, most people tend to choreograph and dance in the pieces they produce. So you just created the opportunity for you to do more work. If you are creating pieces for more dancers, you start meeting new people again and grow your network.

Making the event

Creating Dance Events is as big as producing for the stage. You help your scene to grow. You build opportunities and depending on your kind of event you get to dance yourself. Possible events are jams, competitions, theatre, workshops and so on. You can get really creative with this one. The best thing about making events happen is that you really meet a lot of people that dance too. If you treat them well they will eventually become a great addition to your professional network.

And now on to some possibilities that where you can fill a niche that might be unreachable for someone without dance background.

This list is a little bit longer and more creative than the one before. Most of the following jobs are perfectly doable without any knowledge about dance. But being able to dance or having the daily practise that you need to stay on top of your game will give you an edge here. In some cases, you can use your knowledge to become an expert in a niche, which is always an advantage. The list is in no specific order.

Photography/Videography

I put those two together, which does not mean you need to do both, but all points are valid for both. Every event that wants to grow requires proper documentation or ads. As a dancer, you have a better understanding of what to shoot and can produce better images. You can also use this to create products like photo books, prints or movies that might give you some income through sales.

Writing

Dancing is trendy at the moment, and a lot of companies are investing in the scene to grow their revenue. If there is some expert knowledge needed for blogs, copy or whatever, your experience sets you apart from the people who can write but know nothing (like john snow). If you have valuable stuff to say you might be able to publish a book and create income through sales.

Commentary

Be it on your own channels, on tv productions for upcoming big events, or online live streams. Breaking (which we don’t call Breakdance, remember?) is slowly entering the realms of sports and sports have commentators. With Olympia 2024 incoming, all the qualifying events that lead up to it and even existing events like the yearly Red Bull BC One World Final, that already has multilungal commentary, the demand for dance expertise will only rise.

Acting

Sometimes a role asks for someone well versed with moving and doing stuff with his body that untrained people can’t. I produced short movies myself and heard more than once that it is so refreshing to see “actors” on the screen that know how to move.

Modelling

Most dancers that practise hard have a physique that goes well with being a model. As you train your body regularly you are always in shape when a request comes in. I have a lot of colleagues that do model and dance back to back. The only bad thing about modelling: if you are a living photobomb like me, it does not work.

DJing

Dance needs music. The DJ provides it. While you are not actively dancing behind the decks, you are there at a lot of events and get paid. On good events, the DJs does not have to work the whole night alone. In that case, there is still time to hit the cyphers when your backup is playing.

Producing Music

When you have the taste and the skills to create danceable music: go for it. Dancers are always on the search for new music. If you can deliver, you have nothing to worry about. This is another one that can add money from selling your music or through royalties.

Fitness Trainer

New trends are coming up in the fitness world every day. At the moment of this writing, Breakletics is a thing, as well as dance fitness. If you are into this stuff, you can seriously pimp your income because people are fast in spending money on their “healthy lifestyle”. I did some of those earlier in my career, and these were the most profitable classes with the most participants I ever had. And this might go very well with being a fitness model for the club you are working at.

Yoga/Pilates/whateva teacher

This one could be in the other category (stuff that aids your dance career) as well. Some people get deep into Yoga, Pilates, Feldenkrais or some similar practises. While I am well aware that those are very different, this makes no difference in our business perspective. If you get deep enough into something, teaching might come naturally for you. That is the case here. Like the fitness trainer above, it is one hell of a chance to add substantially to your income. Some of my friends established themselves as the dance experts in physiotherapy. A smart move and it works. Maybe you can design a yoga class tailored to the need of dancers.

Judging

I almost forgot about this one. If you build yourself a reputation that will get you invited to judge significant events, then you can earn money with judging. This said you need to get to the big battles. Smaller competitions can pay you most of the time, but the income is not significant.

I am pretty sure I forgot something, probably a lot of things. If you can think of additional dance business ideas, let me know in the comments and I will add it to the list. And I will give credits for helping me out. With the work fields above there is one important thing. While you can make money with them, you need to be good. Doing any of those bad will damage your reputation while killing time you should use for dancing. So there is no easy-going in any of those.

Secondary work fields are things where you do not actively dance, so they take away time from your dancing. This sounds not too beneficial at first sight but there are reasons why you might want to include secondary work fields in your job setup.

  1. your secondary job benefits your active dance career (the first list of secondaries)
  2. your knowledge of dance qualifies you for a job that non-dancers could not do or makes your results better than from a non-dancer (the second list of secondaries). This makes negotiating higher fees/salary easier.
  3. you are not yet able to support all your financial needs by dancing alone.
  4. you are not that much into “the hustle” and appreciate the stable extra income.
  5. the point we never want to talk about: a lot of the secondaries can provide stability and income when you are not able to dance because of an injury or because you need a break or even when it is time to say goodbye to your active dance career. I know we don’t talk about this. But it is wise to think about it and have a plan.

As a research task for you on the path to becoming a fulltime dance entrepreneur and creating your personal dance business plan (fancy wordings over here) think about which of the possibilities above might work for you. Where do you have the right skills? What do you enjoy? What would be a thing that you would love to learn that could play into your work in a reasonable amount of time? Go through your options and map them out on paper. There is power in seeing what you can do in writing.

Categories
blog business

When and how to avoid or utilize tunnel-vision

The filter bubble is a term that describes the phenomenon of search engines, social media platforms, and online advertising systems showing you only the content that you are supposedly interested in while withholding the rest.

While the internet coined that term, the phenomenon itself is not new. The same happens to a lesser degree when you are primarily moving in only one social circle or one cultural scene. The topics that people talk about, as well as trends and political opinions, are (most of the time) consistent as long as you move within the same crowd.

This bubble leads to unintended tunnel-vision as information that is not part of our bubble goes unnoticed. Depending on your current situation, this can be good or bad.

Utilize a single bubble if you want to learn a craft that is specific to it.

If you want to learn a new skill or craft from one specific culture or subculture, immersing yourself into it is the best thing to do. Unwavering focus without any distractions will let you progress faster on your quest to learn a specific skill. That is the case if you want to learn hip hop dance or breaking. Dive into the scene, find friends, teachers, or mentors there, and become the greatest dancer you can be.

Avoid tunnel-vision by participating in multiple bubbles if you want to create or come up with a plan.

If you want to create something or come up with original or creative ideas, it is better to avoid bubbleism (I know that is not a word). You want to be on the edges of multiple bubbles. You have more influences and also access to more information. This is the case if you’re going to turn your dance passion into a sustainable dance business, beyond hip hop dance moves. You will be better off having access to the body of thought from the hip hop scene, entrepreneurs and community builders.

Know where you are on your journey and which bubbles you need to reach your destination.

Categories
business

A strategy to set up a sustainable dance business

The dream of making a living or even thriving in the dance business is dreamt of many. I know it is doable because I did it in the past, and I will do it again after taking a time-out after our daughter’s birth.  A not so obvious point: making a living as a dancer is not that much harder than finding regular employment that pays well and is good for your soul

I outline a simple four-step strategy that will take you there. Strategy means we talk about “what are we going to do?” The needed steps are universal and timeless. Executing the strategy is an individual thing and might differ from dancer to dancer because our situations are different. But the strategy stays the same.

Four Steps to a sustainable dance career

  1. Create Value
  2. Monetize It
  3. Scale
  4. Invest

That does not sound like a strategy for dancers. It isn’t. It is one basic strategy for running a sustainable business. Too many people who try their luck in the dance world fall into tunnel vision and only focus on their dance skills. This makes the more significant part of being successful a gamble, which is stupid. If you only work on the dance, you will eventually become an excellent dancer. But without understanding how to turn your dance skills into money, you will not turn pro.

Creating Value, Monetizing it, Scaling, and investing everything extra back into your business will pay your bills, even if you are not the best dancer. I never won a major competition, but dance and dance-related work feed me since 2008, and now it does the same for my family. If I can do it, so can you.

Creating value as a dancer

Creating value means nothing else, but “you need to have something that other people want.” These can be extraordinary dance skills that every choreographer wants to have in the show. It could also be the ability to teach people to dance, or to win battles, to entertain, or everything else you can come up with. As long as there are people who want it.

The more specific your offer is, the better your chances that there is little or no competition. Reinforce your strengths, try to work with the things that nobody else in your area has, and dare cover topics that others avoid.

For some inspiration on how to create value with your dance, check out the article about possibilities to build your dance business around.

The base of any reliable business is to create something that people want or need.
The key to success in business is to have something that people want or need.
photo: Dusana Baltic

Turn your value into money

When you have something to offer, it will not be hard to earn money from it. If every choreographer wants your skills in the production, there will be more than enough productions that pay you. If you are a good teacher, students will happily pay a fee for your class. If you can entertain people, you can create your own piece for the stage, go for videos, host dance events, and much more. And suppose you are really a battle winner. In that case, there is price money (but I don’t consider that a viable option to build a business upon).

The point here is that you have to commit to turning your value into money. Because the other option is to do it for your enjoyment only, which means you have to find different ways to pay the bills. That is perfectly fine if you want to have it that way. But you are reading an article for those who don’t want to do something else to earn a living.

I also wrote about pricing your dance classes, if you want to check that one out.

Scale your dance business

Here comes the thing that every entrepreneur thinks about when building a business. Dancers usually don’t, which is a grave mistake. Scaling means to multiply your income. Simple as that. Scaling would be to dance more shows or teach more classes. That version of scaling is for beginners because you will run out of hours to scale your business or burn-out.

Smart scaling would be to find opportunities that pay you better for the same work or create products that you can sell. Teaching that one class at a camp for 50 people should pay you better than teaching 10. Think digital age. Can you create an online course, where you can teach 50 people per week? If you can, you win.

I opted-in for writing. That way, I can reach many more people than in regular classes or talks, even besides trying to be a good father. Choose a way you are comfortable with. The most popular method right now is video. Create a Youtube channel, stream on Twitch or Instagram, become the next big thing on Tik Tok.

The point is: find something that allows you to reach more people in the same time or less time. If you are doing primarily shows, this might be a good moment to think about getting an agent.

Look for opportunities so scale your business by looking at tech options
Keep your eyes open for opportunities to scale your business.
photo: still from Elsewhere

Invest in your dance business

As soon as you have money left invest it, instead of spending it needless:

  1. Learn something new that makes you better at what you do
  2. Learn something new that helps you to reach more people
  3. Create a new product that you can sell
  4. Advertise what you have

This is a strategy that works. If you really want to make it in dance, you can. If you are already working in dance, check your business against the four steps above. Where are you doing good, and where are you lacking?

Be brave and let us know.

Categories
business

Artist Identity: what it is and how to get it perfect?

The Artist Identity is at the core of your marketing process. Most issues in independent (means self-made) marketing come from the lack of definition and therefore the potential fans not knowing what to expect. The Artist Identity is a universal idea that is as true in the dance industry as it is in the music business or any other endeavor that requires Marketing. But what is it?

The artist identity is a curated version of yourself that emphasizes your work and the message you want to send out while hiding everything irrelevant. It also takes your target audience and market into consideration.

Before we dig deeper into the topic, check out the Dance Espresso I made about that topic:

The Artist Identity is the perceived image of you, as an artist, by the audience. It is the promise to your fans what they can expect when consuming your work. It is the story you tell.

When your audience is confused because your Artist Identity is not clearly presented you miss out on a lot of business opportunities.
If you leave your potential audience confused, you will miss out on new fans.

There are two fundamentally different approaches to the definition/creation process. I will call them the artist-first-approach and the market-first-approach. Both are extremes that lead to potential upcoming issues in the artist’s career, and I recommend taking the best from both worlds to create your process.

The artist-first-approach follows the idea of not creating an Artist Identity at all but by merely going with who the artist is. It would mean you are 100% real with yourself and the audience about everything and let the people who love this find you. As great as this sounds, it fails to take into consideration that every one of us has some weird sides, that might be detrimental to building a consistent story that resonates with an audience that is big enough to make a sustainable career around. It also fails when dealing with people who just have no idea of who they are or who they want to be.

The market-first-approach is what has been done by the big players in the music industry for decades. They studied trends in the market, understood what people considered cool and created artificial artist personas (just another fancy term for the Artist Identity) to match these needs. For that, it was essential to find a new artist without a developed identity and tailor his story to what sells well. That is still common practice in pop music, especially with young artists who might not be sure about who they really are themselves. This approach bears a high risk of the artist becoming unsatisfied with her playing a role instead of following her own intentions and ideas. That might backfire in the long-term.

As mentioned before, I recommend taking the best of both approaches. You start by clearly understanding who you are and what moves you. You think about what you do and the reasons behind it. We already answered a lot of these questions when thinking about Your Bigger Picture and Artisan or Originator. By making the motivations and interests of you the main inspiration for the Artist Persona, you ensure that you are motivated in the long run to stick with the identity that you created.

Step by Step to your Artist Identity

Let’s do this in a structured way. Step by step. I recommend you take notes. Here is how to create/find your Artist Identity:

  1. Who are you, and what is Your Bigger Picture?
  2. Your influences and interests?
  3. Your main discipline
  4. Your Promise
  5. What we share
  6. Refine through research

Who are you, and what is Your Bigger Picture?

You need to answer these questions to make sure you know the foundation you are building the future of your project on. They are the building stones of what you are doing. If they are not right, the rest is not going to work. When you meet issues based on the wrong foundation along the way, you can correct them, but it is much more work than getting it right in the beginning. 

So, ask yourself:

  1. Who are you and What are you doing?
  2. Why are you doing it?
  3. What is your vision of a better world, aka Your Bigger Picture?

If you are already settled in your identity and far on your way of character-development the answers can be simple but going into depth has advantages along the way because you know more details. In the example, we will go with easy answers from my perspective to make the article not unnecessarily complicated and lengthy.

My simple answer to #1 would be a dancer. While this would be the obvious one, it is not detailed enough and would not match what I really do. If I dig deeper and check with myself honestly what I do, I arrive at “telling stories with dance as my primary and writing my secondary means of communication”. Does not sound too sexy now, but it is a much better start. With the original answer (“a dancer”) I would put myself in a position to compete with guys like Les Twins and thousands of other people who are just better than me when we talk about dancing. That’s not a good position to be in when we talk about business.

I am doing this because I was drawn to experiencing and presenting stories ever since, but never by merely telling them. Long before I started to dance, I was into role-playing games (DSA and Shadowrun for my fellow players), mostly as the game master. I organised multiple LARPs, which are Live Action Role Playing games – impro theatre without an audience, just for the pleasure of the guys playing. As soon as I felt a little confident in my skills, I created my first own dance theatre piece and later short movies. During all these times I danced myself (in battles or other productions), but all the projects I launched on my own have that story-driven background.

In my bigger picture, everyone has something he or she likes to do, that adds value to the life of others. Everyone should be able to do exactly that in his life and be able to earn a living doing it.

What are your influences and interests?

The answers in the section above are of general nature. Influences and interests are, in my opinion, where our ideas and topics come from. It’s where we look for inspiration, where we take our topics from or what shaped our world views. They are specific. It’s the genres we watch/read, the music we listen to, the passions we follow, our hobbies and the ways we waste our time with. It’s also our upbringing, our education and therefore the way we think.

Knowing these points helps us stay consistent as we know the things our mind is drawn to.

I am from a working family – Mum and Dad had regular jobs to feed the family. Mom in day-care and Dad ran his own software company. I was in a technical school and graduated as a software engineer. Since school, my mind is wired to take the logical approach to every issue it is confronted with. 

I did a good amount of martial arts in my life – with Judo being the one I stayed with for the longest. I did it for 9 years and held a first dan (black belt) when I quit. I guess it’s fair to say Martial Arts were the defining thing in my teenage years. Judo is a full-contact discipline, so one gets used to rough handling.

As already teased above my other interests were in the realms of RPGs and as a software developer of course videogames (for me that cliché is true). The topics or genres I follow are mostly Science Fiction (especially Cyberpunk) and Fantasy (both with a postapocalyptic touch). I love those because they usually deal with the same topics that we must deal within our lives but disguise them as something completely different. I hope to be able to do that in my work as well.

Ok, now that we have collected this bit of information, what do we make from it? We use it to create our persona in a way that can stay consistent.

For me, it would not be wise to create my Artist Identity around being a wealthy kid, that is a fantastic choreography dancer from an art school and promote following your gut feeling. I could not keep up with one of these parts, let alone all three. Playing a role is not in the interest of us, because we are here for the long term and being real with yourself makes a consistent game much more pleasant.

Your main discipline

What is your primary way of reaching your audience? Probably by dancing, I know. But how do you approach it? Common in dance is entertainment, education and competition. Not saying these are the only three but in most cases at least one of them fits.

Entertainment is precise, I guess – you dance or create dance pieces that are there to amaze people. Education means you help people grow in some way. Competition means you are out in the arena to proof you are the best – this can be battles, choreography contests but also competitive art exhibitions. These disciplines are not mutually exclusive, but it helps to define your main.

I see myself in the education field. While I try to make my work as entertaining as possible, my main interest is to make people think about what I want to tell them. This goes well with my analytical thinking and writing. I guess there is no question that the article you read right now can be considered education as well.

Up to this point, we looked at ourselves, the work we do and what we want to represent.  We will now change our perspective and look at our potential audience.

Your Promise

With all the answers we collected until now we think about the promise – the offer we make to people what they will get from us. From there, we develop a matching lifestyle and the cultural/social aspects that go well with our message. It will also help us to define topics for visuals and promotional content in general.

This step is a creative task that you should take enough time to complete thoroughly. There is no silver bullet to this one. Everything that came before and comes after are abstract methods that are similar for everyone. This one is about taking time and condensing everything you know into a neat package.

My promise is “I will show you my art, help you to create yours and give you the knowledge to turn it into a business if you want to.”

Often the key message might not translate into a slogan. That’s not a problem. You don’t tell people but show. The following examples will work fine, as well:

 “I will blow your mind with creative concepts and movement design”.
(Would work as the promise from Phillip Chbeeb @phillipchbeeb)

“I will show you how we did it back in the days”.
(Could be from Buddha Stretch @buddhastretch)

“When you join me, you will see some sexy choreography pieces”.
(Fits Jade Chynoweth @jadebug98)

I did not ask any of these guys for their Artist Identity planning. But by looking at their presentation I found that the examples above work. Only the single sentence I made up, catches the essence of what you can expect from these artists. It’s easy to understand, and that is the point.

What we share

The next step is to define what we want to share with people. Other people call this defining the lifestyle and culture around the artist, which is valid to some extent, but I dislike calling it like that. We are not changing our lifestyle or culture. We are choosing what to show people. This step should take everything into consideration that we already know from this text and include the insights from Your Bigger Picture, Artisan or Originator and your chosen work fields (primary and secondary if you have multiple).

Evaluate your lifestyle (the real-life you live). What parts of it are relevant and exciting for someone who might take you by the word of your promise? Don’t make a mistake and think it’s all of it. Most people are not interested in your morning routine, diet or family affairs when they are there to watch excellent movement design and creative concepts like promised in the first example above. Maybe some hardcore fans want to know that later down the road, but that is a topic for another time.

Here I am, more or less talent-free but a hard-worker, trying to decide what’s worth sharing: I chose to go with my finished pieces of work, in some situations the work in progress, the methods I use to get there, things that inspire me, what I know about dancing and everything I know about the business. Things I don’t share as part of my Artist Identity are my private life, parties (except they are part of my work), my training, pets, and so on.

At the time of this writing, you can not see this reflected on my social channels as I am working on my first book release and will tackle the time-consuming tasks of implementing the Artist Identity in my social media presence after I finished the publication of the book.

The things you share are there to build trust between you and viewers, and eventually, they will turn viewers into fans and then true fans. They are what we need. You remember the theory of 1.000 true fans, don’t you? You want the people to come back because they love what you offer, and you want them to come back often. Therefore, it is essential to find the sweet spot of what you can and want to give and what they want. If you can deliver that, you are set up for success.

Check the things you put out into the world against your decision of what’s part of the image you want to share. When you teach kids as a central pillar of your identity, consider sharing great moments from your workshops instead of drunk pics from your recent parties. Because the kids are watching and teachers have responsibility. On the other hand, if being there at every party you can get is part of your lifestyle and image that you want to spread, you should share these moments.

Refine by research

Chances are there are people out there who are doing something similar or even the same you are doing. Take your time and check how they present themselves, what they share with the world and try to find the reasons for things that are not obvious. If something does not make sense, it could be that the artist you are checking just did not define his persona well or at all.

Look what is working well for others and evaluate if it makes sense to adapt it for yourself. Is there an agenda that you can adopt that empowers your vision? Can you add some quotes, that go well with the mood of your presentation? If yes, see if it aligns with your image. Don’t throw around rough quotes from mixed martial arts if you are a Yoga guy who is into zen-like mastery of self-control. Check methods from similar work fields and see if you find ideas there.

I added writing blogs because I was inspired by the work of people like Austin Kleon and Seth Godin. Both are authors but run their own blog to keep the attention of their readers alive in between book releases. I might adopt specific tactics from them but tactics are details, and we are talking strategy now.

If you see something that works and makes sense for you, just add it to your game plan. You can always change things if you need to.

Take your time with the process presented in that monster of an article. It took me longer to write it as it is the longest text on that blog. You should also invest the time and not rush the development of your Artist Identity. When you are ready, feel free to share them if you want. Or don’t. However, you feel. But you better be confident about your result.

Until next time.

PS: whenever I talk about share in this article, it means showing it to your audience. This includes appearances in real life and in any media. Just adding this, in case it is not obvious that I am talking general and not only in social media terms.

Apropos “share”: if you dig this article, do me a favour and send it to someone who may need this advice. Much appreciated.

Categories
blog

The two most important skills are learning new skills and unlearning old ones

We live in a time of change, and the ability to adapt will make the difference between growth or suffering. This goes for your dance business and your personal development. To adapt, we need to be able to learn new skills when the need for them arises. Learning new skills is a skill in itself, and a lot of people call it a meta-skill.

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.

Alvin Toffler

Learning something new or unlearn things that don’t benefit or even hinder us will be more important than adding more steps to your hip hop move list or more tracks to your playlist.

Learning something new is also a skill that we need to practice. So make it a habit to learn something or do something for the first time often. This way, your learning muscles stay healthy, and you can move fast when you need them.

Unlearning shit that does not help

There are also a lot of things that we apply or think to know that are, in reality, detrimental to our progress. Examples would be racism (or any other form of discrimination) or the simple belief that you are not good enough for whatever it is you want to do.

Asking the right questions, identifying those things that hinder us, and unlearn them or replace them with a mindset that serves us better is a hard task that requires, once more, brutal honesty with ourselves. But putting in the effort pays off and being honest with yourself, makes life much easier.

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blog sharing is caring

What can we do to fight racism and support #blacklivesmatter?

Racism is a global issue. A part of the world, especially the younger generation that grows up with black culture, understands that. But despite all the outrage and screams for justice, most folks fail to answer the question, “how can I help?”

The reality is, there are many ways we can help that depend on your situation, where you live, what you do, and in which community you are spending your time. For example, donating, signing petitions, send emails to authorities, supporting protests, find an NGO to work with, share news to your circles that would otherwise go unheard, and much more. When you flex your google skills a little (or start your research at the blacklivesmatter website), you will come up with more than enough things that you can do that are tailored specifically to you.

I will not talk about these specific things. Instead, I want to suggest one thing that every white human must do to purge racism. I did not come up with this myself, and I did not think I will write about the topic in the first place. I tried to process an overwhelming flood of information from people much more knowledgeable and most likely smarter than me, to find the right way to help that works for me. Below I will share how I think that we (the white people) can really combat racism.

Our responsibility against racism?

We must embrace the mindset that “racism ends with me.” Racism and oppression of the black people burnt itself into humanity over generations because some assholes thought it’s OK to enslave humans because their skin is different. Of course, that was wrong from the beginning. Sadly, we can’t change the past, and we are not responsible for what our ancestors did. But every single one of us is responsible for what happens now and in the future. Doing that work is not an option, it is our responsibility.

The beauty of “racism ends with me” is that the theory is simple to understand. We need to do everything we can in our daily lives to stop racism when we experience it. If we all do this, racism would be gone in one generation. That is, most likely, not going to happen. But the more people join the cause, the faster it will.

How will it end with us?

  1. Educate yourself about the problem. It is not someone else’s responsibility to teach you. White people created this issue, and black people suffer. That’s neither fair, nor can they fix it alone. We have to.
  2. Speak up when you encounter racism in your daily life. Just speak up instead of looking away. At work, in your family, with your friends, in public transports, wherever. And don’t vote for the wrong people when it’s election day.
  3. Examine yourself to find every influence of racism in your beliefs, your mindset, and everything you think you know. Then get rid of it, dissolve it, destroy it. We have been taught over generations that racism is right, but it’s not. If you can’t fix it yourself, get help. Most of us will need it. It’s similar to overcoming trauma.
  4. Don’t pass it on to your children. Your kids can never see you commit an act of racism. They need to see you stand up against it. Children learn by watching you. If you do right, so will they. Get rid of your racist behavior, and they will not learn it. If you fail, you put the responsibility on them.

Sounds simple enough for me, but it will be incredibly hard to pull off. It will hurt to see where our own minds are corrupted by the plague that is racism. It will be uncomfortable to raise our voice against idiots who still think it is OK to treat our black brothers and sisters like second class. And it will be exhausting to do it all the time. But that does not matter because it is the right thing to do, and all our discomfort is nothing compared to the suffering of generations of black people.

“White feelings should never be held in higher regard than black lives.”

Rachel Elizabeth Cargle

I want my daughter to tell her children that grandpa was “one of the guys who made a difference against racism” instead of “yes, they knew but chose to remain silent.”

What about you?

#blacklivesmatter

Categories
business

The Dance Teacher’s Toolbox

Today I will cover the arsenal and tools for teaching dance that I use. There are, of course, more techniques out there that you can use to teach dance, but these are the ones that I think are the most important ones. They suffice in most regular classes. Later, I will cover more sophisticated techniques, but I want to dive into the other primary work fields as well, before going so much into the depths of teaching.

Show & Tell

Show & Tell is the basic principle of teaching other people anything related to dance. The technique is self-explanatory, as it is what it sounds like. The visual information of seeing and the added information about where to look for the details and intricacy of the material can be enough for people to understand what you want them to teach. This is your bread and butter. The go-to tool in teaching.

Feedback

Corrections can be done in many ways. You can address general problems or give individual feedback. You should do both like a lot of topics will be relevant for everyone, and some students might need a unique problem addressed. Don’t fall into the habit of not giving feedback. This is one of the essential differences between someone who teaches people and someone who entertains with dance. That would be a viable business approach as well, but this time we talk all about teaching.

Drills

Give your students exercises that make them practice new material in a structured way. Drills are like dance push-ups. They are needed to build muscle memory and elevate movement quality. You might have a lot of drills from your teachers, or you can create your own.

Games

Primarily if you teach a lot of kids, the idea of drilling something might not be the best approach to sell. Package the things your students need to work on in games. B-Boy Catch, Chinese Whispers with Dance Moves and similar ideas work well.

Peer Learning

Let your students teach and correct each other. Trying to explain something to other students leads to a better understanding of the material. This can be done when experienced students teach the new ones or when a group of the same level feedbacks each other.

Progressions

Teaching material in a sequence that makes sense is first and foremost a matter of planning your curriculum, but you can also use it to lead people to more complex moves. Go back to the basics of a movement if the students struggle with it and rebuild it from the foundation. In many cases, they did not yet master the previous motions you taught them.

Handouts and Teaching Material

Sadly, this one is not very widespread in the dance scene world. You can really support the progress of your interested students when you provide material that helps them to dive deeper into the matter. This can be additional background information, self-made video tutorials to remind them about the technique, links to tutorials from others, or documentaries. You can also provide videos of dancers that excel in certain areas that you covered in your classes. Make it easy for them to dig deep and go far with research if they are willing to.

Homework

Give them something to do or think about in between classes. You can’t force them to do it, but those who are willing to learn will do it and therefore progress faster.

Rhythm Exercises

Have some exercises ready that help them understand how music works. These can be taken from music theory, body percussion, or they can be created with simple dance steps.

Notes

Take notes. You, the teacher, not the students. They can do it as well, of course. Write down what you did in class, so you know what repeat next time. Write down if some students had issues with a specific topic and get back to it to help them out. Notes help to stay on track with everything, keep an overview of what you did in which in class and give you an excellent tool to evaluate the progress of the course.

The following point was not on my initial list, because I did not consider them as tools but Focus from the B-Boy Dojo made me reconsider, so I add them here now. Thx man.

History & Stories

The history of the dance you teach as well as stories and anecdotes from your own dance life or people you know are outstanding tools to keep your students motivated. When told in an inspiring way that the listener can relate to, it will make them wanna jump back to practice immediately.

The history of the dance is, of course, something you should teach as well and not only use it as a tool for teaching dance. But as it comes in with that double function, it works as the swiss-army-knife in your toolbox.

These are my most used tools for teaching dance, and of course, there are many more of them. Let me know which ones you use and if there are any basic ones that I missed.

If you want to see some of those in action, I teach a breaking class at Streetdance Center Salzburg, together with my colleague Gü.