Meet Alexander Chung: A Social Media Master Class
The other night, I brought my 12-year-old daughter, an avid dancer, to yet another master class. This time, world-renowned Canadian choreographer Alexander Chung had flown from LA to teach this session. While these long nights of dance have started to blend in my mind, there was something different about this class.
Amongst the hundreds of attendees, you could feel the excitement and anticipation in the air. Check out some of Chung’s choreography, and you’ll understand why. His portfolio boasts working with the likes of the Backstreet Boys and Sean Kingston. He’s taught around the world and has won a number of world dance titles with his NXG Company.
Alexander Chung: Dancer and Social Media Persona
Chung is more than a phenomenal dancer/choreographer. He is also a dominant social media persona with a large, loyal following. On Instagram alone, he has 210K followers. My daughter is one of the many. She’s spent countless afternoons watching Chung’s videos and absorbing his artistry.
Here’s the thing: talent is not all that rare
At this one master class alone, there were hundreds of talented dancers. So, what sets Chung, an Edmonton native, apart from the crowd? Answer: his social media strategy.
- A strong social media presence builds loyalty: Thanks to his YouTube channel and Instagram page, aspiring dancers come out to Chung’s master classes in droves. People came from all over the world just to attend this one class. As the other night’s dance class came to an end, I could see people crying tears of joy over what they just experienced. And yet, despite all his fame and success, Chung was very kind to one and all. He took selfies with his fans, gave my daughter a big hug, and talked to her about the challenges of the business, and how to go after her dream. The look on my daughter’s weary face as we went home at 11:30pm was that of pure elation. Having this kind of dedication from his fans is an invaluable quality for an artist.
- Social media helps you stand out: Watching the hundreds of dancers from the balcony above — ranging in talent, profession, and age — I couldn’t help but think: what are the chances of them getting “discovered”? How can you make a name for yourself? The way I see it, the best way is to build a brand on social media, much like Alexander Chung has for himself. He is constantly posting videos of his choreography for the world to see, and this strategy has clearly paid off.
- Social media gives you a platform: Having the opportunity to share what you love to do is all that any artist can ask for, no matter their discipline. Being able to share your work and contribute your creativity to this ever-evolving community is what it’s all about. Further, it bolsters your portfolio, gives your studio good publicity, and showcases what your students can do. Plus! If you’re like the majority of aspiring dancers who were attending the Master Class the other night, YouTube gives you a chance to prepare ahead of time by learning the choreography before the class.
Sounds like social media is a win-win-win, right? Not to some (at other dance studios)…
Social Media and Intellectual Property
Not everyone subscribes to Chung’s approach. Some choreographers are very against sharing their choreography online. They fear that others will steal their choreography – nay, their intellectual property – and with good reason.
It seems no one is protected from this act. Beyoncé has been accused of stealing choreography and other artistic ideas on multiple occasions in the past. It’s an epidemic that thrives on a vague definition and no clear way to police it.
The Pitfalls of NOT Jumping on the Social Media Wagon
However, this refusal to share ideas has its downfalls as well. In my view, it goes to the detriment of the artist, their students, and the studio as a whole to not be able to showcase the talent they have. In an industry where everyone is trying to get noticed and stand out, refusing to share your work and your talent seems counterintuitive.
And so, I sympathize with those trying to make it in the dance world, for there seems to be no good way to market your talent without risking a violation of your intellectual property. I suppose that, in today’s modern age of technology, this risk is quickly becoming part of the game.