Rebecca King Interview Part II: Ballet and Social Media
The following is the second excerpt of a three-part interview Artburst conducted with Miami City Ballet dancer Rebecca King, on social media’s effects on the world of ballet.
Artburst: In an interview with Jessica Wallis at” DIYdancer” (6/24/2013), you said that you consider the writing on your blogsite (tendusunderapalmtree.com) ‘part of your job.’ And you say in that interview it both promotes your art form and it promotes your brand. Do the art form and the brand ever come into conflict?
Rebecca King: My main mission has been to promote the art form and that has not changed. Generally I really don’t talk about myself on my blog. I’m not a principal dancer with a huge company, but I do see a lot of inside stuff happening in the ballet world. Those who visit my site don’t really care about me — they want to know more about the ballet world and what it’s like to live in it.
But I notice you are very active with Twitter and what you post there seems to be a lot about what is going on with you, from photos of you outside the studios to your recent injury and the specific things you are doing daily to overcome that.
My social media platforms all have a little bit of a different tone, aimed at promoting my brand. Social media allows people to connect on a personal level. Since I am not a well known dancer, my Twitter and Instagram are about me and what I am up to, which I hope will in turn create more interest in my blog. My Facebook account is aimed at sharing fun photos, and tidbits about the ballet world.
In your blog you do bring up controversial subjects relating to ballet and really think them through. For instance, in a May 2014 blog you were highly critical of the marketing campaign launched by Free People’s Ballet. You point out there that they marketed their new ballet clothing line without having professional ballet dancers model the clothing or even featuring the regular models in ballet poses.
That’s right. The photos showed people in poses that had little or nothing to do with ballet.
It would have been terrific to give dancers more work, but isn’t the promotion you suggest the kind one sees with Misty Copeland and the Underarmour campaign? Ballet insiders have been responding to that in different ways, some excited and some critical. Do you see potential dangers to having ballet dancers become marketing models, or are these campaigns strictly opportunities to employ professional dancers who, frankly, could use the money?
The Free People’s marketing campaign was a lost opportunity. I don’t see any dangers spotlighting professional dancers in marketing campaigns at all. What’s the problem with huge posters of someone like Misty Copeland in Times Square? I think it is wonderful when ballet hits the Mainstream: I talk about it a lot on my blog.
What’s dangerous are representations of ballet dancers you see in movies like Black Swan, which portray dancers as crazy. I think the fact that Misty Copeland is becoming a superstar in ballet is exactly what we see happen with athletes in professional sports. Sure it promotes the individual but it also promotes the sport as a whole.