I took some time at the end of summer break to reflect about the first year of Dance Feature Magazine. A bit of strategy and a lot of soul-searching was required as we approach year two and Issue 5 on September 22. I greatly appreciate anyone who takes the time to read or share this letter.
It was a little over one year ago when I was browsing online because my daughter wanted a dance account on Instagram. I had to do some research first and make a decision I was comfortable with. I made a list of pros and cons, and ultimately, we decided to give it a go.
Almost immediately, I noticed that Instagram was full of magazine and ‘feature’ opportunities for youth talent. But as a mom, I thought about what I would want out of magazine that might include my daughter, and I set out to create it. I decided to give dancers a new opportunity to be not only seen, but heard. And ultimately, I wanted it to tackle some of the cons that landed on my list.
Instagram was a tricky place to give a voice to the visual. But it’s also the home of a solid online dance community. It isn’t a perfect community, but overall, it is a supportive one. And it is a place to connect with so many others who share your passion and gift.
It’s important, even at a young age, to know that your voice and your perspective matters. It’s also important that you know that your story is a resource to others in the dance community. We learn together and grow together. I believe it is equally important that young dancers know that we want to hear from them as much as we want to see their photos or videos.
Dancers are trained to face tough situations from a young age. Their individual strengths and weaknesses, personality traits, fears, quirks and perspectives all come into play. We see them overcome many physical and emotional barriers. It’s a truly impactful thing to witness, but raising a dancer is not for the faint of heart.
I am a mom of three and my business partner, Christina, is a mom of two. Other than our walk with the Lord, there is nothing that takes precedence over our children and families. No matter your walk, we know that many of you operate the same.
By creating a magazine that gives a voice to the visual, I was giving dancers an outlet to speak and share. And by introducing industry professionals, I was exposing them to potential opportunities and letting them hear first-hand from others who were once where they were. Advice and perspective from industry professionals is an invaluable part of Dance Feature Magazine.
The word ‘feature’ has double meaning for us. In the field of communication, a feature story is a written narrative piece with the purpose of entertaining and informing. On social media, and especially on Instagram, a feature is when a photo is shared that highlights a specific person or people. There are many feature accounts on Instagram, which exist to feature dancers on social media. The ‘Feature’ in Dance Feature Magazine refers to both definitions — we are not just one or the other, we are both.
In creating this magazine I had one major insecurity of my own to overcome. I am not a dancer. I have always loved art and creating, but I am a communicator and I a mom of a young dancer who can’t imagine her life without dance. I want to make a positive difference in this community for her and for all of you. I have studied and practiced professional communication for more than 15 years with more than 500 published articles ranging from human interest stories to technical scientific features. A wise business partner (Christina) once told me that with an interest and a belief, anything is possible. I knew that to be true from past professional experiences, but I did need that reminder and assurance to get over my initial fear and fully commit to this.
I rely on dancers and industry professionals as the subject matter experts. I listen, I create and I share. I’ve learned in this past year that my desire to know and understand fueled much of our content, and that it was actually a driving force behind many of our successes.
Every dancer has different needs. And even our magazine community has different reasons for wanting to be a part of Dance Feature Magazine. But I want everyone to know that we are here to provide a safe platform to share your experiences and insight. The intended result it to inspire, to inform and to uplift.
We don’t operate as a popularity contest, we actively block and filter our followers, and we don’t make our decisions solely on who has the most followers on social media. Doing so seeds things that we don’t want to grow. Before we started this business we drew lines that we are not willing to cross — even if it means slower growth. Business by numbers is not a new or outlandish concept, but when it involves our youth, it has to be handled with care.
If you agree with the above, please visit http://www.dancefeaturemagazine.com/blog/quality-over-quantity to learn how you can help.
In our first year, we met people who valued our vision. And those people have motivated us through the past 12 months. We’ve evolved as we noticed changing needs — starting in print and ending as a web-based magazine to make our content more accessible to more readers. We created unique opportunities for featured dancers and creative assistants. After introducing our new apparel line, Feature Apparel, we grew to include Ambassadors and Brand Reps. We planned and hosted our first Dance Feature Fest on August 18, 2018, which gave attending dancers a variety of opportunities to be seen and heard.
We’ve listened to our community and we will continue to listen and evolve into year two. The dancers in our community have indicated preferences, so we’re making some changes to our content starting with Issue 5:
Please know that Dance Feature Magazine is a labor of love. For us, if this isn’t a meaningful venture, it isn’t worth doing. Sustaining and growing this business requires a lot of time and energy. And it’s success (or failure) depends on your support. As a small business, we’re happy with where we are at the end of our first year, but we are really just beginning and we have a long way to go to get where we need to be to sustain this long-term. This past year has been defining for us and we expect the coming year to be same.
I’ll be sharing my list of pros and cons on our website blog soon, and inserting my own voice more in the coming year in the hopes that other parents, dancers and dance-related businesses and organizations will add to the conversation and that we can work together to create some positive changes.
If you like what we’re doing, we hope you will get involved, share our content, give us feedback, offer words of encouragement or collaborate and grow with us.
Dance Feature Magazine