The world has changed a lot since the time that I was training as a dancer. One of biggest differences is the advent of the Internet and social media. It seems as if less and less is private; everyone has a voice; and the reach is limitless.
When Edwin Olvera interviewed me, he asked me what was the one piece of advice that I could give a young dancer. Without hesitation, I said that the young dancer today must ALWAYS be on best behavior, and that includes their behavior on social media.
As members of the dance industry (whether we are students, professionals, teachers, choreographers or administrators) we are always under a microscope and everything we say and do is always on display. As we are more and more likely to post our lives on the internet, what we are displaying has a very far reach- and we are reaching the administrators who hire us, the choreographers who utilize us, the students who come to study with us and the judges who critique us. And whether we want to acknowledge it, or not, when we walk into an audition or a job interview or the classroom or the competition, our reputations precede us…now more than ever.
I recently had a conservatory student ask me if the faculty members discussed the students amongst themselves. My response was that it would be impossible for us to work as a team, effectively training the students for their future careers, if we did not discuss them. The student expressed that he was not comfortable with the faculty discussing him. Somewhat taken aback, I asked him why. And his response was that he did not want a new teacher to have any preconceived notions about him. I simply stated that if this was a real concern for him, then there was a serious problem. If one is going to be successful in this industry, one must never do anything that will follow them into the audition, into the agent’s office, into the classroom, into the competition. And that includes how one behaves in the studio as well as on social media. Every time we pick up a device to post a rant, to complain about a student, to whine about a choreographer, to bash a competition judge, to vent our disappointment about a lack of success, remember who will see it: EVERYONE. Your behavior will be seen by future employers, future choreographers, future competition judges, future students. And like it or not, you will be judged. And that judgement will affect your career.
So the best piece of advice I can give to the artists in this industry is to always behave like a professional. ALWAYS. And remember the next time you are about to pitch a fit in a rehearsal, or post a rant on the Internet…you never know who may see it…and once it is seen you can’t take it back. The real artist-the true artist dedicates a lifetime to train and study and often makes great sacrifices to become the best dancer possible. What a tragedy it is when an exquisite dancer’s behavior sabotages their career. I’ve seen it happen and it is heartbreaking.