Chatting with Author Frederick Levy
Online video sharing through sites such as YouTube and our own Dancemedia.com have surged in popularity in recent years. But with so many videos online, it may feel impossible to make yours stand out. We talked to Frederick Levy, author of the book 15 Minutes of Fame: Becoming a Star in the YouTube Revolution and creator/producer of the Nickelodeon show “Dance on Sunset.” He gave us some insider tips on how to use this booming technology to your advantage and rise above the competition.
Dance Spirit: What changes in new media prompted you to write your book?
Frederick Levy: The future of all media is the Internet. I think there will soon be a day when we’re sitting in our living rooms and watching all of our entertainment on a computer screen. I think what’s happening online right now, not just on YouTube but also all over the Internet, is just a sign of what’s to come.
DS: What factors go into making videos stand out online?
FL: There are many factors that can make a video stand out, and a lot of it has to do with the content. There are two types of YouTube celebrities: there are those who have talent and those who can be compared to today’s reality stars. Those who have a true talent that they can show people will rise to the top.
DS: Do you have any tips on how to stand out online from the competition?
FL: Keep your videos short: the shorter the better. People’s attention spans are very small and if you make a 10-minute long video, you‘re going to lose interest. Keep your videos to just a couple of minutes. If you have more to show, then make more than one video. Show your personality. If you are dry, quiet or shy, you’re probably not going to make for the best video. But if you have an outgoing personality, have a lot of energy, charisma and excitement, that’s going to shine through. And that will get viewers excited and want to watch you.
DS: How can dancers use online video sharing strategically in order to promote themselves and their career?
FL: As far as how you can promote your own dance careers, post videos of some of your best dance moves and make a channel on YouTube to showcase your dance ability talent. I’ve seen some pretty amazing dancing online in some of these YouTube videos. I know there are talent scouts like me out there on the web looking for amazing talent and you never know who might find you online. You can also direct people in the industry to your site, hoping they’ll actually watch it and say, “Wow, you’re really talented, maybe you’re someone I want to work with professionally.”
DS: What different kinds of videos can dancers make to show their talents creatively?
FL: Dancers can make videos of themselves dancing, make their own music videos, or they can do dance-offs online, like what Miley Cyrus and her friend Mandy have been doing with their dance challenges online. The challenges are so much fun to watch and people can get into that game by making a video response to their videos and presenting their own dance challenges to other users.
DS: How can teachers use video sharing to promote their businesses and studios?
FL: In terms of promoting your business, you can put samples of some of the work that comes out of your studio online. That’s going to generate excitement for what’s happening at your studio and hopefully generate interest from others who are thinking of becoming a dancer or getting involved in a studio. If someone wants to teach dancing, they can post some video examples of their dance lessons.
DS: How important do you think video is?
FL: I don’t think you need to be proficient at editing video to be able to make or upload your own videos. However, if you do have skills at editing, you can take your videos to a whole other level and make them look a lot more slick and professional. There’s a lot of video editing software available, and it’s not that difficult to learn.
DS: What concerns should people keep in mind when posting videos on the web?
FL: The number one concern people should keep in mind is that once you post something on the web, even if you take it down five seconds later, it could always come back to haunt you 20 years from now. Never put anything on the web that you don’t want other people to see. As far as copyright issues, you shouldn’t use any video clips or music to which you do not control the rights. You want to do your homework and be really specific about what music is allowed to be your videos and what music isn’t allowed to be in your videos before you start posting videos with copyrighted music in them.
Visit Frederick Levy’s website at www.fredericklevy.com.
Much of Janelle Ginestra's career has been about helping others shine. She's dedicated herself to supporting and cheerleading her partner, WilldaBeast Adams; the emerging talents in their dance company, ImmaBEAST; and the countless dancers she inspires at master classes and conventions. Her YouTube channel has become a launching pad for young talents like "Fraternal Twins" Larsen Thompson and Taylor Hatala, thanks to viral videos featuring Ginestra's creative vision.
But Ginestra's a skyrocketing success in her own right—an in-demand choreographer, a social media influencer, and a dance entrepreneur, building a legacy one eight-count at a time. It's time for her turn in the spotlight. And she's more than ready. "I want to be a legend in whatever I do," she says. We'd argue that she already is.
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All photos by Joe Toreno.
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I love ballet, and I've been told that I have a lot of potential. I can see myself dancing professionally one day. But I'm also working toward my black belt in karate—and I'm passionate about that, too. How can I keep up my technique while also making time for the other things I love? Is that even possible?
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