The Future of Dance: 5 Trends That Will Change The Dance Industry
By Noel Roque
CEO World Dance Group
Opinion from editor
Talented dancers are a dime a dozen; now that everybody is equipped with a camera and a computer, everybody's a “star”. For media, production companies and brands, finding the right dancer for the job is no longer a challenge. But when it comes to creating a dance routine, the same technology that enables the average person to film themselves dancing in their bedrooms can make it difficult to find the right moves.
In January 2020 the world was hit with the most devastating epidemic the 21 century has ever seen, labelled Covid-19. There is no doubt how Covid -19 has negatively impacted the arts and entertainment industry. Governments across the world have sanctioned the hospitality industry, and more specifically what is deemed as non-essential entertainment. As a result, the dance industry has been irrevocably damaged due to this pandemic. Throughout quarantine, many workers are now forced to work from home, participate in online schooling and attempt to re-learn how to continue living their lives from their homes. Going virtual has turned into a crucial strategy for dance instructors to hold classes and keep their business alive. Although instructors are normally using Zoom, fb live, etc, they cannot monetize these platforms and not every dancer is technological savvy to manage an online business. Some of the most successful dancers have never sold any videos, DVDs or moved much through retail, but instead they teach for money. They are afraid to share the content on the internet because somebody will copy their moves. Sad right? By the same token, aspiring or professional dancers interrupted their learning/training due to the same reasons described above.
In this article we are going to explore the 5 Trends that will change the Dance industry forever:
It is often questioned what exactly constitutes social media. It seems to be a new term without definition. Is Instagram an industry? Is it a movement? Or is it one-hundred percent of the future of dance? In the 21st century, everything has become social. Music, art, news, traffic, everything. This implies that everything is enhanced and magnified by the power of social media. As a dance business, you need to be on social media. Not just Instagram or Facebook, you need to be on everything….but the right strategy. You need to be out there engaging your audience. Whether you sell a DVD, photo, piece of art or ticket to your show, your business cannot survive if your audience is not engaged by your posts. Instagram is a business platform for everyone, even if you are not selling anything. But is this enough? How can you monetize your presence in social media? You need millions of followers to do that. Sometimes it pays off to be part of a larger crowd. If you don’t have the budget to open an e-commerce store, just use Amazon or e-bay. At the end of the day I prefer to be fishing in an endless sea versus collecting shrimps in the river.
The same way dance academies became obsolete due to virtual schooling, choreographers and artists are now learning on the fly. So, what does that mean for dancers and the dance industry? Does this mean that choreographers will learn dance for their craft and then make their own choreographies? Does this mean that creators will learn their craft from the best and then make their own dances? Or will the opposite happen, a new movement will arise? The dance industry is becoming more adaptive to the digital age. It is a fact that technological progress is providing more opportunities than ever for more creative art. The industry is becoming more efficient, more malleable and thus more adaptive to evolving markets and new demands. Advice: don’t try to re-invent the wheel. Dedicate your efforts to do what you do best, develop your personal brand and leave technology to the experts. The dance scene will be written as follows: b.c. and a.c. (before Covid and after Covid). Before Covid all classes were in person. Only Zumba was ahead of the curve. That is why the company it is valued at $500 million. You started teaching in your studio. Then your studio was forced to close and you found Zoom. In addition to paying rent, now you have a monthly bill from Zoom too. While you learned to use Zoom, most of your students left because there were so many facebook lives for FREE that the 1,2,3,5,6,7 became a world anthem. So, what is next? Of the 20 top-selling vehicles of 2020 vehicles, 11 were crossovers or SUVs, five were pickup trucks, and just four were traditional sedans. The era of sedans or traditional classes is gone. We need to make the crossover to a hybrid “fuel efficient” flexible model. Teach in person, via the internet, phone or tablet, sell the same class on-demand over and over whether you have a studio or not. Rinse and repeat. This is not new. It is called Omnichannel. This same strategy is being used by all major retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Target, etc. Omnichannel marketing (sometimes also referred to as integrated marketing) is a marketing approach that provides your customers with integrated shopping experiences, such as by providing a seamless experience between desktop, mobile, and brick-and-mortar. This is the future and I guarantee you that if done right it could be better than real life.
Remote work has gradually taken hold in the dance industry since the 90's. As technology has improved so have the benefits of remote work for studios. It is now easier to market online and a more attractive option for aspiring and professional dancers to have full control of their own schedules and skills training. The dance industry has flourished because it has allowed for a dynamic workforce where individuals from a variety of different backgrounds can join forces for a common purpose. This diversity of experience and skill sets creates an organic feeling of community, one of the most beneficial elements to any team's workflow. So, where is the money? At the beginning of the pandemic everybody started teaching via Zoom, facebook live, etc. Those more tech savvy believed that Instagram was the way to go. Ohhh but what about music rights? Did facebook close your account? What if you can teach the same class to a larger group and you get a fat check from Pfizer, Microsoft or Nike that have thousands of employees working from home? With remote work comes the temptation to open the fridge so their employees are not necessarily getting skinner.
Technology and dance are forever intertwined. Even to this day, your chances of making it as a dancer are tied with your knowledge of technology. In the past the use of technology has allowed dancers to turn their passion into a lucrative profession. Just like the artists of the past, technology offers the promise of freeing dancers from the mundane tasks that used to stop them from achieving their true potential. Technology has afforded the dancer the opportunity to develop their artistic aesthetic, with an array of tools that allow them to express their unique vision through visual arts. Artists of the past, especially dancers of the past, were solely confined to the context of a static frame.
5.The Tik-Tok era
Although there has been quite a few movements towards more e-commerce, i.e. 1.0 to 2.0 or 3.0 marketing, the industry has not reached that level of maturity yet, especially with the amount of users on various social media platforms. Even the introduction of Instagram Direct Payments was just a small indicator that the industry has fallen in a technologically fragmented and disjointed way. With social media being such a huge tool in the dance industry, I believe that it is important that all aspects of the industry, including instructors, business owners, dance practitioners, dancers and choreographers should incorporate the use of social media. One significant trend that is driving the dance industry is the rise of the social influencer but without the right technology tools just be prepared to dance with your dog or cat. Can you make money from Tik Tok? There is currently no way to directly make money from TikTok, as the app does not pay or offer incentives to its most popular content creators. Many famous TikTokers do use their fanbase and shift them over to YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. If you are super famous maybe a brand will discover you one day but not today. Think Tik Tok as another media or channel for your Omnichannel strategy, not your business plan.
Art is one of the most important modes of expression that humans possess and there is no need to subscribe to rigid beliefs. The arts are healthy and alive. Although our understanding and accessibility of the arts are slowly decreasing, the general public has come to accept that they do not have to agree with conventional norms and attitudes. The artists involved are usually those with a level of self-awareness and self-doubt that allows them to live with their true identities and be free of their labels. This is our culture: the one where you can be a little out there and it is perfectly ok. Perhaps art is a driving factor behind why the world as a whole is becoming increasingly creative. The world of dance is a tough one. And it's only getting tougher. The Internet has made it so easy for anyone to teach dance. And so, every week, new teachers are all over your city. As a result, you have more competition than ever before. And you're probably seeing your students come and go. That's normal. That's what happens when you're trying to be a great teacher. Anyone can teach. Not everyone can be great. So how do you stand out? Just be yourself. Create a personal brand that can be recognized in multiple channels. Leverage technology. If you are a dance instructor, It is time to teach to the world. The world has 7 billion people. If you are a dancer, it is time to learn new skills, routines and people. The one-trick pony days of dancing "La Malanga" are gone.