The Youtube Dance Debate| and why I am Pro YouTube for Dancers

Lately, whether or not Youtube is a valuable or legitimate way to showcase your work as a dancer or choreographer has become a point of contention in the dance industry. Everyone has an opinion on it and there seems to be a lot of hostility towards it. Some people feel that Youtube is something like a “get-rich quick” scheme for dancers or a way to achieve some type of fame that your talent or hustle doesn’t back up. While others love Youtube and think its a vital tool in our changing industry.

My personal Youtube is not a big deal and I occasionally post videos on it here and there. However, I constantly appear in videos for other choreographers and here is my stance on why I am pro-Youtube and don’t think its something to be hated in the dance world.

First of all, I have seen FIRSTHAND that becoming a “Youtube sensation” doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years of working hours a day, editing, being knowledgable about marketing and monetization. Its not something to squawk at for someone to build a following on social media. It really takes a lot of hard work- and guts! Posting something on youtube with the comment section open means that anyone is open to comment anything they’d like. You may have spent two days choreographing a routine, 3 days training it and 30 hours editing the video so Dave from Kentucky can say, “you look a hot a mess,” or “this sucks.”

Youtube offers dancers and choreographers something they have never had before- their own DIRECT platform to the AUDIENCE. The fact is, the people watching Youtube are the reason we dance! We dance to entertain the general public- These are the people watching the Target commercials, buying the tickets to the Beyonce concert, watching the new J.Lo video on Vevo. Its important for other dancers/artists to respect your work- yes. But its also important that your work is relatable, inspirational and entertaining to the masses. Youtube is a great way for non-dancers to access your work, weigh in with their opinion and for you to market test your product. In our industry we work our asses off and then go into an audition for an old man in a suit that works for a high power company that doesn’t dance. Even when you do audition for a choreographer, everyone knows the choreographer has A say, but not the final say. Mostly we are judged and hired by people who know very little about dance and are casting directors or executives at big corporations. Thats what makes Youtube Phenomenal.

You can put YOUR work and your vision out there- unaltered – and have it viewed by people who love dance and who are dancers themselves. I’ve worked on countless projects where the choreographer and dancers have to compromise their original ideas for what works better with the artists quality of movement, what the creative director wants, what the budget allows, what the network wants and a million other reasons. All that is fine of course- but isn’t it nice to dance however you want without having to answer to ANYONE?

As a dancer and teacher I LOVE the fact that our videos can reach and inspire young dancers in small towns in the US or other countries that may not have access to a regular dance education. They can see what we are up to, decide if they might like to come visit LA, or pursue dance professionally themselves. Sometimes people say our videos made them enroll in local hip hop classes and we love to hear that! We support the arts! If we can inspire people to get up and dance in any way, shape or form that is success and for me thats the point. When we put up tutorials, we allow people from anywhere in the world to have access to dance training. A lot of people are hindered by finances and can’t afford to take classes or train as much as they like and we have found a way to circumvent that problem and help dancers with a desire to learn! I came from a family with a moderate income and I know it would have helped me immensely to have choreographers teaching me to dance for free on my computer screen.

For me, putting our dance videos out on YouTube is a way to give back to dancers everywhere and to engage them. To say, “hey, here’s what we are doing, what do you think?” To make people think, “you know what, maybe I can do that too…”. Lastly, seeing yourself on video from dance class and allowing that video to be open to criticism, to me, makes sense and furthers my training. It makes me not take class casually or lightly. I take class to train for the real world, where in auditions you have one hour to learn a piece and perform it and get feedback. YouTube class videos are much the same. Class youtube videos are optional, no one has to be put up that doesn’t want to and I personally think they offer such a great tool. I can see myself dance next to my peers and get a real idea of what I look like, what I am doing right and what I am doing wrong. Sometimes people comment things on the video I didn’t even think of or realize I was doing.

In short, I think YouTube is fabulous and I think its high time dancers had their own platform to dance as they’d like to- unhindered. I think its our job to reach out to other dancers not just in our local community, but all over the world and share our art- and with YouTube we can finally do that. YouTube is a step forward for artists. As dancers, what we need to stop doing, is attacking each other for our choices and differences. Love, support, accept and inspire ❤

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Lights, Camera, Awkward…

Matt and I had a photo shoot this morning and we were going for “dance-shots”… whatever that means. More often than I care to admit I have had people ask for photos where you can tell I am a dancer… and short of doing a kick or a jump- communicating dance through a still pose is more difficult than you might think.

We met with a photographer that we found on craigslist and she was very nice… but working with someone new is always challenging. She doesn’t know my movement quality and I don’t know her shooting style so we “danced around” (for lack of a better term) awkwardly for the first thirty minutes like two teenagers trying to figure out their first kiss.. “should I tilt my head like this?”  “put your hand here…” ” like this?” “yes, now stick out your chin and arch your back…” ay yi yi.

After about 40 minutes we got into the swing of things and we were jumpin and krumpin for our lives. Hopefully, we got some great shots in there. The best way to communicate dance in a photograph is to stick with basic moves from your style and then “step into them”… have your photographer time it so as to capture the image at the biggest moment of your movement and then try again until you capture a winner. Don’t be shy to ask the photographer to preview some of the shots on the camera screen; not after every shot but every once in a while check in on what your body looks like and how you should adjust your angle or facial expression!

Should you take a chance with a photographer or anyone offering a service on craigslist? My short answer, based solely on my first experience with it today, is if its free- YES… If you have to pay for it- not so much. Of course make sure its daylight, in public and you’ve got a buddy and some mace 😉