Picture this: You’ve been a dancer for a while now and you’re starting to feel confident in your abilities. Maybe you’ve had a few good gigs and auditions and you are starting to feel like a newly-minted professional dancer. But something’s missing: You don’t have a website.
Not everyone is going to want to check out your Instagram or YouTube channel or scan your emails for links and a resume. As a gig worker in an industry built somewhat on networking and exposure, it’s a smart move to make yourself as accessible and attractive to prospective producers, directors, agents, and choreographers as you can. But how do you compile your portfolio onto a website without looking like an amateur? Let’s walk through it together.
Address the Technical Parts
Before you get to assembling your content and designing your website, you need the basics. Your first decision will be if you want to host your URL yourself or host your website through a site like Squarespace and Wix. The quality of the website you can make on those platforms is quite impressive, and many major companies host their websites on those platforms, so they’re a good, user-friendly option if you aren’t familiar with coding and web development.
Some pros to using these websites are that the companies know that a big part of their audience are first-time users, so they are intuitive to use. Also, most questions you have about the platform have probably been asked already by someone, so a quick google search can often answer any questions you have.
Those sites aren’t the only option though, so feel free to shop around to find the right mix of control and customizability that works for you. You can also hire someone, as there are many people that do this for a living, or get help from a tech-savvy friend!
Start Simple, Stay Focused
You might be tempted to add a lot of bells and whistles like music and autoplaying video and a biography the size of Napoleon’s to your website but remember: This isn’t social media. You’re making a portfolio with the sole purpose to showcase who you are as a dancer as quickly and competently as possible. Try writing a quick bio that sticks to the facts about your training and resume. Make sure to include: Who, what, where, when, how often. You want to tell people about your training background and your professional work.
After the nuts and bolts of your experience are assembled on the page, figure out how you want to present them. Things as simple as your font, spacing, design, and the order of what you show will guide the person seeing your website to learn more about you. As an artist, your brand is really important. Maybe you know it down to a T, maybe you’re still learning who you are as an artist. Either way, you can tailor small things to the type of dancer and person that you are. Do you wear bright colors in class? Consider having bright colors somewhere on your website. Are you a technician with virtuosic moves? Consider a cleaner website that can visually match how clean your lines and technique can be!
Be efficient, include what’s essential, and make sure that you show who you are where you can without overwhelming the page.
The Art of Motion
As a movement artist, it’s safe to say that showcasing your movement is paramount in your professional website.
You want to find the best photographs of your work, and you want to showcase them! As a dancer, action shots and headshots are both important, so it’d be best to have both on your website. If you have choreography credits you want to credit, videos are best, but professional photos of that work is beneficial as well. You might want to pair your headshot with your biography, and have an action shot on the landing page, but of course, all these choices are up to you to make.
Similarly, when going through your videos, focus on performances that highlight you at your best. If you have a dance reel, make it easily accessible on your website. If you don’t already have one, you can check out our best tips and tricks for making a dance reel. You want to be strategic about which videos you show first, on your website and in your reel. For your website, you have more space and time as far as posting longer videos, so it’s a good place to put longer works. Remember to focus on the kind of jobs you want to attract, and share videos that you are proud of.
It’s better to film new videos than to post something outdated, something you’re not proud of, or something that doesn’t match the way you are trying to brand yourself. If your website is a work in progress until you can get better footage, don’t fret! Just keep an eye out for opportunities where you can get more footage, or go out and make your own.
Keep it Fresh
Your website, headshot, and reel should all be updated when you change your look or get new footage. The last thing you want is an agent passing by on you because you hadn’t posted footage that you already had! Keeping your website portfolio fresh is the best way to tell the professional world that you are here and now, and ready to work. In the same spirit, keep your contact information current, make sure your business email and social media are linked clearly on a contact page, and check them often.
Social media is a great destination for the extra material that might be “too much information” for your website portfolio. Think in terms of connections and appendixes: If someone wants to see more of you than the simplicity of the website and its function allows, then they will naturally seek out your social media pages. Instagram is an excellent place to archive your older photographs and videos while you cycle new material to your website. Your social media can act as a subsidiary of your portfolio, an extension of your life’s blog and brand.
Overall, when making your website, it’s best to remember: keep it simple, keep it fresh, and keep it YOU!