In the fall of 2016, Miami City Ballet corps dancer Rebecca King Ferraro and former MCB corps member Michael Sean Breeden started Conversations on Dance, a podcast dedicated to giving listeners an inside look into the world of professional ballet by interviewing "some of the ballet world's best and brightest." Their episodes cover training, history and more; recent episodes feature New York Times chief dance critic Alastair Macaulay, New York City Ballet principals Sara Mearns and Amar Ramasar, and Los Angeles Ballet dancer Elizabeth Walker. This week on the podcast Ferraro and Breeden interviewed Pointe's editor in chief, Amy Brandt. Listen to Brandt discuss her dance career with Milwaukee Ballet and The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, what it was like pursuing a college degree part-time while dancing professionally, and catch a deeper glimpse at the inner workings of Pointe.
While very little about this year has felt normal, we're excited to share that one of the dance community's landmark events is returning despite the pandemic. October 29 marks World Ballet Day 2020.
This year's iteration of the annual social media extravaganza features three of the world's leading companies: The Royal Ballet, The Australian Ballet and the Bolshoi Ballet. Additional participating companies, which include American Ballet Theatre, Houston Ballet, National Ballet of Canada and Boston Ballet, have just been announced. Last year's World Ballet Day was the biggest yet, reaching over 315 million social media users around the world.
Before COVID, having an active social media presence may have been enough to supplement your in-person efforts of auditioning, taking class and planting yourself in your local dance community. Now that most auditions are virtual and online submissions have been on the rise, it takes more to stand out. "Art is going to continue, but it will look different," says Rebecca Herrin, ballet instructor at the University of Oklahoma School of Dance, who advises her students on how to be competitive in the industry. "So many dancers are doing the same thing, and it's important to get your work to rise to the top."To be competitive as the industry adapts and evolves, a professional website is the online presence you'll need to help you stand apart from all the chatter. Here are the basics to get you started.
Why You Need A Website<p>Dani Hernandez, founder, CEO and head designer of <a href="https://redoumediadesign.com/" target="_blank">REDO U Media Design</a>, notes the unforeseeable and uncontrollable challenges of relying solely on social media to showcase your work. YouTube sends viewers away from your content by suggesting relevant videos, Vine is no longer used and TikTok could be banned. "A website is yours," says Hernandez, whose client list includes choreographer <a href="https://alblackstone.net/" target="_blank">Al Blackstone</a>. "You control it, and you don't have to worry about an algorithm."</p><p>What's more, when someone lands on your site, you know they're searching specifically for you and not just anyone in your field. "Directors are looking," says Kevin Thomas, artistic director of Memphis-based company <a href="https://www.pointemagazine.com/collage-dance-collective-2646384423.html" target="_blank">Collage Dance Collective</a>. Thomas has been able to connect with new dancers online by visiting their websites after COVID-19 disrupted the company's usual in-person auditions this year. "This is a way to get a gig," says Thomas, adding that he recently hired a new company member this way, without having to meet him in person.</p>
Stroming's "About" page offers a detailed bio, plus links to her resumé and social media pages.
Courtesy Dani Hernandez, REDO U Media Design
How to Get Started<p>If you opt for the DIY route, there are a number of web platforms, like <a href="https://www.squarespace.com/" target="_blank">Squarespace</a>, <a href="https://www.wix.com/" target="_blank">Wix</a> or <a href="https://wordpress.com/" target="_blank">WordPress</a>, that are relatively easy to use. They're low-cost, with monthly prices of less than $20 or annual subscriptions for a couple hundred. Most will include a custom domain and won't require self-hosting or any coding ability.</p><p>If you're like <a href="https://www.alisonstroming.com/" target="_blank">Alison Stroming</a>, a former member of Ballet San Jose and Dance Theatre of Harlem who's now freelancing in Los Angeles, you may prefer to leave the web design to a professional. If that's the case, you'll invest anywhere from $500 to $2,500, depending on what you want to include on your site, according to Hernandez.</p><p>Either approach you choose will be well worth the investment, Stroming contends. She's landed both auditions and jobs from her website, which Hernandez designed. "I don't remember the last time I went into an audition and handed them my resumé," says Stroming, since directors have typically seen her materials beforehand. "It's really important to have your own site. If you don't have one, get on it."</p>
A drop-down menu on Stromings' site offers separate pages for photos, videos and press.
Courtesy Dani Hernandez of REDO U
Expert Tips from Web Designer Dani Hernandez<ul><li>Use an easy-to-remember domain name. A good structure is "www.[firstname][lastname].com" or "www.[firstname][lastname][dance].com."</li><li>Keep your website design simple. Use white space to ensure that it's not too busy, and stay away from too many fonts or colors.</li><li>Remove the web platform's name from your domain name and site footer. Having "Powered by Squarespace" or "www.[sitename].wix.com" in your domain isn't as professional.</li><li>Align your browser favicon—the small image that displays next to the page title in browser tabs—with your brand. Using the web platform's default image brings credibility down.</li><li>Try not to overwhelm your website with a lot of photo content, as it will slow the load time tremendously. Only choose a handful that you think will showcase your best. </li></ul>
In Pointe's Fall 2020 issue, Bayerisches Staatsballett principal Osiel Guneo talked to us about his career, life as a new dad and what he misses most about his home country of Cuba.
Gouneo and Laurretta Summerscales n John Cranko's Onegin
Serghei Gherciu, Courtesy Bayerisches Staatsballett
Gouneo as the title role in Yuri Grigorovich's Spartacus
Serghei Gherciu, Courtesy Bayerisches Staatsballett