For as long as the camera has existed, photographers have been drawn to dancers. Like a moth to the flame, they are pulled to the artists’ beautiful lines and charming, magnetic allure. What better subjects could a photographer ask for? Dancers know their bodies and are able to shape them and pose them in an endless array of stunning variations. Combine that with limitless fashion choices, boundless settings and immeasurable thematic elements, and dancers are unsurprisingly featured in many ad campaigns, clothing lines and artistic projects.
In today’s high-tech age, dancers have taken matters into their own hands – literally. With the use of their phones, tablets and gadgets, dance professionals have capitalized on their allure by inviting fans into their worlds via social media. They post selfies, behind-the-scenes shots, peeks at their personal lives, quiet moments in the studio, touring glories and yes, even those professional images that make our jaws drop. In doing so, they’ve created more devoted fans on a global scale and have built their personal brand, accelerating their renown and taking their careers to new heights.
Here, we’ve listed some of the ballet dancers who do this best. Whether via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter (or all of the above), these artists have built an impressive following via social media. Their accounts are inspirational to follow, giving aspiring dancers an insider’s look. Check them out!
First up is Maria Kochetkova, a principal dancer at San Francisco Ballet known for her quirky, fashion-forward style and petite frame. With a background including training at the Bolshoi School in Moscow and performing with The Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, and as a guest artist with Tokyo Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet and Mikhailovsky Theater, she is a one of the foremost dancers in the world often in high demand. Lucky for us, she likes to share what she’s working on – with all 406,000 Facebook followers and 88,000 on Instagram @balletrusse.
Another Russian dancer with a massive global following is Diana Vishneva, a principal at both American Ballet Theatre (ABT) and the Mariinsky Ballet (formerly the Kirov Ballet.) With 326,000 followers on Facebook and 45,000 on Instagram @dianavishneva, she is a prima ballerina not just onstage, but online.
Fellow ABT Principal Daniil Simkin has especially become known for his dance photography and social media presence, with The New York Times even writing about it in a recent article. He has more than 46,000 Facebook followers and 44, 200 Instagram fans for @danill. His Insta description reads, “Trying very hard to be artsy, badass and not obnoxious at the same time… Living in and loving NY.” He definitely achieves the artsy side of his wish list, as many of his images beautifully capture the energy of his fellow dancers and the frenzy of movement backstage and in rehearsal.
One ballet and pop culture heavyweight is Misty Copeland, boasting more than 464,000 followers on Instagram @mistyonpointe, 45,000 on Twitter @mistyonpointe and 191,000 on Facebook. With this ABT soloist recently landing herself on the cover of TIME Magazine, her celebrity status is only continuing to build. She uses her social media pages to dually promote herself and the organizations/businesses she works with, from Under Armour, to ABT, to her memoir Life In Motion. She might be the best example of using social media to define yourself as a “brand.”
Boston Ballet Principal Dusty Button contends for attention as well, with 71,900 followers on Instagram @dusty_button. Her page provides wonderful snippets of her life, from short videos shot in the studio, to her love of sports cars, to playing video games with her husband, to portraits of her in various poses by leading dance brands.
Independent artist Wendy Whelan, known for her long career as a principal at New York City Ballet (NYCB), also uses social media to share about the inner workings of her life. She shares everything from pictures of her dogs to life on tour for her Restless Creature with her 17,700 followers on Instagram @wendyw.
One account dancers should be sure to follow is Benjamin Millepied’s. Whether you follow his Facebook or Instagram, you’ll enjoy his behind-the-scenes images of the Paris Opera Ballet. As the new Artistic Director, he gives us fresh access to these world-class dancers. Often hazy and tinted, his photos offer his 32,000 Instagram and 51,000 Facebook followers a unique, dreamlike quality.
French dancer Fabrice Calmels, on the other hand, posts images that are clear and to the point, often rehearsal shots or season campaign ads for The Joffrey Ballet. However, what makes his page popular is his modeling images and encouraging words. In January, he posted these sentiments alongside an image of him warming up: “Everyday is not always a victory, and sometimes a small event can set you back. Today might be a down day but tomorrow will be great. Keep going forward.” Recently featured in a Samsung Mobile ad, he also tutors budding ballet dancers. Follow Fabrice @FabriceCalmels.
A fun dancer to follow and glean from is NYCB Principal Sara Mearns. With over 22,000 followers on Instagram @saramearns and 4,800 on Twitter @nycbstar2b, she gives the public a more intimate look at her life, allowing them to connect to her more personally. Her fans rejoiced with her at the end of April when she had her Broadway debut in On The Town.
Finally, one gorgeous and inspiring dancer you don’t want to miss is Michaela DePrince, currently performing with the Dutch National Ballet. Known for her moving personal journey that was told in her book Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina, this young star is truly a positive force in the world showing everybody that their dreams are possible. Her 62,000 followers on Instagram @michaeladeprince, 5,000 on Twitter @michdeprince and 20,000 on Facebook surely agree.
Now, by no means is this list exhaustive. There are many other dancers to check out – such as Complexions Contemporary Ballet Co-Founder Desmond Richardson (who has nearly 6,000 followers on Instagram @desmondrich7), NYCB Principal Ashley Bouder (who has over 12,000 followers on Instagram and over 9,000 on Twitter @ashleybouder) and ABT corps dancer Stephanie Williams (with 16,000 followers on Instagram @wheresmytutu), to name a few.
So we turn the gantlet over to you – who are your favorite ballet dancers to follow? Share below!
By Chelsea Thomas of Dance Informa.
Photo (top): Joffrey Ballet dancer Fabrice Calmels in the studio in Chicago. Photo via Fabrice Calmels.