Youtube Views vs. Real World Experience

By Brian Henninger

At some point over the last 10 years the world of dance has changed dramatically in its characteristics as far as how content is spread and how people are able to produce and create their own work. The main reason for this is YouTube. YouTube has easily been one of the greatest developments for any artist who wants to make a name for themselves. This has been both a great gift and also somewhat of a curse for the dance industry. The same amazing outlet for so many different artists from singers, to comedians, dancers, and everything inbetween that has given exposure to so many different people has also created what I observe to be somewhat of a culture of entitlement among younger dancers in the industry which is one factor that I think contributes to the lower quality in dancers today. Here are a few reasons why.

When you focus to much on YouTube popularity you will place less priority on training and making industry connections: Its a double edge sword, on one hand more exposure on youtube CAN help you in terms of networking within the industry but it can never give you the type of leg up that constant focused training and auditioning can. Even though you may have 10’s of thousands of views on your videos or even hundreds of thousands of views, it does’t mean that you should be dancing on any particular project. Most times the casting director has no idea that several thousand people out of billions of people on earth have stumbled across your videos online. They don’t care about that, they care about whether or not your going to be able to deliver the product that their client wants. More often then not the casting directors are going to pay attention to people they’ve seen before, as well as people who show them what they need in the audition room, not on youtube.

Youtube popularity does not mean your experienced, and does not mean you are entitled to anything: Truth be told, With billions of people on this earth connected to the internet there is a market for just about ANYTHING. People can build massive followings on youtube making silly videos of cats moving around to music. While I would never knock someone who is trying to produce their own dance work on you tube ( I do it myself), I would also not place to much confidence in your youtube audience compared to real world audition and work experience. Youtube views on your freestyle videos and solo choreography does not mean that your ready to be on a huge professional stage in front of tv cameras. Do you know your stage directions? Do you know lighting cues? Do you know how to hit a camera cue on beat every take? Do you know what the term blocking means? Have you ever been on live television in front of millions of people performing choreography you’ve only just learned or changed 1 hr prior? These are realities of the entertainment industry. They are realities that performers who have experience auditioning and performing are comfortable with because of their hands on experience. The biggest mistake young dancers make aside from not training enough is to think that because they’ve been doing this for a few years they are some how entitled to begin working. This sense of entitlement can be boosted by having a large group of people constantly telling them how “amazing” “dope” or “talented” they are on you tube. In the same way that its not healthy to take negative comments on youtube seriously, its also not healthy to take the praise you receive to seriously as well.

Be careful with that sense of entitlement that all of us can feel from time to time. Take your time training and building a solid foundation while constantly putting yourself in the arena of auditions and castings. This is the only real way to make true progress in the industry. Its through this constant putting yourself out there that real success happens over time. There are no shortcuts. Big breaks can come but they are few and far between. I have friends who have been consistently auditioning for over 7+ years in this industry before ever getting any kind of “Big Break”. Your on a tortoise race if your a dancer. Its a long game, its about keeping yourself healthy, keeping up your training, and focusing on why you love this that will keep you on the path to long lasting success in this industry. Keep up the hard work!

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