Follow Friday: Boston Ballet
Follow Friday, At a Glance
Connect with the Boston Ballet on social media:
Bringing the high art of ballet to the masses can be a challenge, but the Boston Ballet has proven over the last few years that anyone can admire its athleticism and artistry. While pleasing regular theater-goers and ballet aficionados is one thing, winning over the general public is another. And for the latter, social media becomes an invaluable tool.
This week, we caught up with Deborah Moe, Director of PR and Digital Strategy, to learn more about how the Boston Ballet connects with audiences beyond the theater doors.
How many people run the Boston Ballet’s various social media accounts? How do you manage all of them?
In addition to public relations I manage the ballet’s social media channels with the help of a newly appointed Digital Design and Content Manager. I maintain a content calendar that incorporates all of the events happening at Boston Ballet. This includes everything from world premieres on the Boston Opera House stage, international touring, Boston Ballet School, and community events like our annual performance at the Strand Theatre and our free performance last season on Boston Common, “Night of Stars.” We also create campaigns surrounding our upcoming ballets in order to give our followers a unique behind the scenes look and a chance to get to know dancers and contributing artists like choreographers and costume designers.
What are the goals for the Ballet on social media, and where does your content usually come from?
We strive to inspire new audiences and deepen our relationship with existing ones. Social media is a critical tool for Boston Ballet—it helps us build brand awareness, and is often an entry point for new ballet audiences and supporters. We also want to break down the stereotypes often associated with dance and appeal to a wider community. Ideas for content come from all over the organization including dancers, students, board members, and staff. Our content strategy team, which also includes our amazing Director of Design & Brand and wonderful Content Administrator, works to both generate as well as direct ideas into relevant content that aligns with our artistic product and beautiful imagery.
We are never short on great stories and images, which makes curating our different channels very exciting. Video is also a major component of Boston Ballet’s social media channels. We work with a brilliant videographer because there is no better way to showcase dance.
In three words, describe the voice and tone of the Boston Ballet’s social media.
Inspire, ignite, rethink.
Which social media account is the strongest channel for the Ballet? If you had to pick, which one is the “must-follow”?
It’s tough to choose. Facebook is home base—it is a wonderful tool to aggregate large format photos and videos, and offers us great analytics to ensure we are creating the best possible content for our fans. We also use amplification tools to help target new audiences. Instagram and Tumblr tie for a close second because they provide a forum for straightforward gorgeous pictures and video. Twitter is wonderful for updates on what is happening with Boston Ballet around town, and of course, Pinterest for inspiration. We are working on building up our Youtube presence this year so that is one to look out for!
Tell me more about Swan Lake. The promo and rehearsal photos have been stunning.
This production is absolutely breathtaking. Swan Lake is a quintessential classical ballet set to Tchaikovsky’s beloved score that tells a timeless tale of love and betrayal, strength and frailty. Our new production is made over to reflect all the richness and nuance in this ballet’s history. Mikko Nissinen chose to preserve the original Petipa and Ivanov choreography with additions made for the skills of today’s dancers. If the dancing and music don’t steal your heart, the brand-new sets and costumes will. Each backdrop is a beautiful painting all on its own, hand-painted right here in Massachusetts, and the costumes are each a piece of stunning couture—the Black Swan tutu alone has more than 4,000 hand-applied jewels. Just stunning.
People went bananas on social media when dancers took to the Public Garden to re-create a Swan Lake photo from the 1970s, as well as “Night of Stars” on the Common last year. Are there any other public events you can tease?
Nothing confirmed as of now, but that very same magic happens on stage at Boston Opera House from October to May. We were so thrilled that 55,000 people turned out to watch our performance on Boston Common in 2013. Sadly, there is sometimes a barrier between attending a performance of ballet in a park and attending a performance in the theater. There could be price resistance or fear of not knowing enough or feeling formal enough to attend a ballet performance at Boston Opera House. Well, fear no more. Tickets start at $29—$20 for student rush—and attending a ballet is come as you are! That magical experience is all about your reaction to what you see on stage and how the music and movement make you feel.
What’s a fun or surprising fact about the Boston Ballet—or ballet in general—that audiences may not know?
There is so much to choose from, I have to give you three:
1. The athletic component. Dancers train and practice just like professional athletes, combined with beautiful artistry and musicality.
2. The dancers have to be strong, dedicated, and iron-willed, yet graceful and willing to bear their own souls for the audience. You are watching a dancer’s inner and outer beauty on stage.
3. As I mentioned, the experience you have at a ballet is more about you than you think. Especially contemporary ballets. It’s all about provoking an exceptional experience from each audience member. People usually feel very strongly about contemporary dance—but they have to see it to experience it.
Once in a while the Ballet releases mini-profiles of individual dancers. Any recommendations on who else from the Ballet to follow on social media?
Rachel Cossar has an incredible food blog and great presence on Twitter (@rachelonpointe and foodistaonpointe.com). Shelby Elsbree @selsbree and Dusty Button @Dusty_Button are Instagram mavens. Shelby also has a beautiful blog called Tutus and Tea. Principal dancer Kathleen Breen Combes is another one to watch—she created an incredible TED-Ed video recently.
Since you’ve been with the Boston Ballet, what has been your personal favorite story to share on social media?
When I started at Boston Ballet I jumped head first into the launch of the brand-new Nutcracker (2012). I was amazed to see how much goes into staging a production like this—there was so much to share on Boston Ballet’s social media channels, it was overwhelming! For starters, the thousands of jewels, embroidery, and hand-tipped silver paint on custom tutus—the Boston Ballet costume department is awe inspiring. Then of course, the dedication and hours of time the dancers log to prepare for multiple roles, the 250 students who dedicate their time to performing in the ballet, and the dedicated parents who help them. There is the incredible production team that does everything from design and engineer rigging to make magic happen on stage, to making sure that magic starts on time and runs smoothly. Not to mention more than 50 brilliant musicians in the orchestra pit every night!
It’s easy to take something like an annual production of the Nutcracker for granted from the outside—growing up in Boston I know I did. But it is truly an amazing feat, every night and every year. I feel very fortunate to be able to help share that story on social media.
Responses have been edited and condensed.