On a flight home from a teaching stint in California last summer, Miami City Ballet corps member Rebecca King wrote a letter to her former self to post on her popular dance blog, Tendus Under a Palm Tree. Her hindsight advice to aspiring ballet students—no chit-chatting in class, implement corrections, study ballet videos—ended up going viral, eventually landing a page in Florida's World of Dance Magazine.
“Sometimes what takes off is a surprise," says King, 27, a native of Northern California who founded her blog in 2010. “It's made me realize how important social media can be for all businesses, especially in the way it can affect art."
King, who trained at Contra Costa Ballet and the San Francisco Ballet School before completing her senior year at The Rock School in Philadelphia, joined MCB as an apprentice in 2007, entering the company a year later. Tendus Under a Palm Tree began as a way to connect with audience members, “but I never thought it would turn into what it has become today," King says. She has earned a following with her thoughtful and well-researched “Musings," which range from commentary on dance in popular culture to profiles of ballets by her favorite choreographer, George Balanchine.
It was through promoting her blog via her own social media accounts—and the resulting requests from friends and acquaintances asking if she could help them do the same—that King decided to start her own company, Rebecca King Social Media Management, in 2012. Using her own self-taught successes as a guideline, she has since assisted more than half a dozen clients—including a ballet school, a choir and an accountant—in producing promotional videos and materials aimed at increasing their social media presence and traffic. In one case, she more than doubled the number of “likes" on a client's Facebook page, and tripled her Twitter followers. (As for King herself, at last count her blog had nearly 3,000 Facebook “likes" and over 3,100 Twitter followers.)
Her demanding performance schedule—and her long-distance marriage to an accountant who works a couple hours north of Miami—forced King to put the business “on a back burner" during the past year. But her blog continues to be a place to dig deeper into the ballets she performs. For example, cast as one of the three Fates in Balanchine's La Valse, she studied a poem that reportedly inspired the choreographer and wrote a post about the correlations to better understand her character.
“That got me extra interested in what I was dancing," she says. “It became a venue for me to enrich my career."
Her posts have also helped her clarify connections between Balanchine ballets, answer questions from audience members and even explore healthy recipes suitable for a dancer's busy lifestyle.
An ankle injury that cut her season short made King especially aware that, even if it's on hold for now, founding her company was “important for my future."
“As dancers, we all think about what comes next," says King, who hopes to fashion a career from teaching and writing when her stage days are done. “I felt that starting a little earlier would be a good career path."
Favorite social media platform: Twitter
Dream clients: Sara Mearns, Maria Kochetkova
Favorite ballet book: "George Balanchine: The Ballet Maker," by Robert Gottlieb