Essay: An Ode to the Art of Tweetin...

Posted on: March 24th, 2012 by Daniil 4 Comments

 

      Some people think Twitter is silly. I am here to sing the praises of tweeting.

      Tweeting, which means authoring a short message with less than 140 characters on the Internet service twitter.com, is liberating, addicting and, as some would claim, vain. Nevertheless, I would like to explain in this opinion-editorial why I think this service is important nowadays, especially for both art professionals and art organizations. Though my mother advised me, as a general rule of politeness, never to speak of myself in public, I feel the urge to explain where I am coming from by casting light on my past as a dancer with a special relationship to social media.

      I grew up parallel to the emergence of the Internet and spent many hours behind the screen of my father’s Macintosh computer, most of the time occupying his little office corner more often than he. Gadgets and screens attracted me greatly in my childhood, and it came naturally to me that I would present to the world my other passion, dancing, by means of the Internet. I was intrigued by the subconscious mechanisms of creating a brand and identity and was fascinated by how little changes resulted in great differences regarding how people perceived you over the Internet and as a personality. Having won several international ballet competitions, I built a website and posted the videos of my dancing, first on my website and then on YouTube. Through YouTube, my success as a ballet dancer went ‘viral’. Diane Solway wrote in her article in W Magazine: “Few dancers can boast of a bigger following online than in the theater, but Daniil Simkin can.” I got widely known through YouTube and received invitations to perform in many places, through which I ended up at American Ballet Theatre. I would not live the privileged life I have, performing all around the world and living in New York, if it would not be for YouTube and, in general, social media.

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Essay: How an Ape Alien Influenced ...

Posted on: March 4th, 2012 by Daniil 8 Comments

 


      I am a geek. People who define themselves as geeks do so with utmost confidence. As the scholar Joshua Blu Buhs, who writes on topics related to popular culture, argues, we see ourselves as the modern cowboys, as the “wildmen of the cyberfrontier” (70). We use it as a “term of pride as self-reference,” (Dictionary.com). We embrace our way of life, our predispositions, our love for technology, and our way of thinking. Complex systems and abstractions from reality tend to fascinate us.

      As with many geeks, throughout my life, I have embraced the characteristics of obsession. We geeks are “identifiable by a singular obsessivity about the things they love, both work and play.” (Blu Buhs 68)

      In my childhood, I often indulged in intense infatuations, whether it was the latest computer game or a collection of trading cards. No matter what the endeavor, I wholeheartedly devoted myself to mastering the current task, whether it was having the biggest collection of trading cards in my school class or mastering a computer game completely. I took no prisoners with my inner geek.
One of these obsessions happened to be a deep interest in Japanese animation, also called anime. In their original conceptions, anime and manga, which is the book form of the same art work, differed in their style and themes from western animations, but not anymore.

      Of the shift, Steven Brown, who writes frequently on anime, says:

Instead of being defined as a pale reflection of national cinema, anime is repositioned along a continuum of visual production mapped in relation to the intersecting and multidirectional lines of transnational movement out of which political, economic, social, technological, ethnic, and aesthetic flows emerge, coalesce, enter into conflict, and take flight. (Brown 1)

      I was especially involved with one particular series called Dragon Ball and its sequels Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball GT. This series told the tale of an ape-like alien, Son-Goku, who is sent from his home planet, due to its impending destruction by a mass-destructive alien. It seems (at least at first) that he is the lone survivor of his race. He lands on earth as a child, and, during the first moments on the planet, he hits his head and suffers from amnesia. He forgets everything he knew about his home world and why he is on earth. He embarks on a far-reaching adventure to find the seven “Dragon Balls,” which, if located and brought together, can grant him one wish. Several times during the story, the whole world is at stake, and, together with his archetypal allies, Son-Goku has to fight many enemies in order to save the world. He marries and has sons. His enemies become his allies. He dies and comes back to live, through a wish from his friends.

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Essay: From the Sun King to Twitter...

Posted on: February 20th, 2012 by Daniil 15 Comments

 

      I am branding myself. No, I am not applying a hot iron to my buttocks as cowboys do with steers. But I am doing something that, at least among some of my colleagues, is equally as controversial. I am attempting to make myself into a ballet product.

      As Daniel H. McQuiston, marketing scholar at Butler University, defines the term:

Branding is more than simply putting the company’s name on a product and broadcasting that name to its target audiences. For industrial products, branding is a multidimensional construct that includes not only how the customers view the physical product, but also the logistics, customer support, and corporate image and policy that accompany this product (1).

      Though “branding” is more commonly thought to apply to products like Cheerios and iPhones, I maintain that the principles of branding can be used in the ballet world. I have always used the internet in the development of my career through YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and a website. But now I am developing a new website that I hope will firmly establish me as a particular type of "ballet brand."

      Branding educates consumers by creating defined sets of expectations associated with specific products. By educating consumers, branding helps consumers make informed buying decisions. In the arts world, marketing in general and branding in particular are in their infancy. At present, “arts marketing can be seen as being too narrowly focused on the marketing of arts and heritage offerings rather than of wider issues of business and culture” (O’Reilly 574).

      Some of my colleagues have advised that marketing and branding will make me less of an artist and more of a commodity; they fear that mixing business with art will somehow dilute the purity of my art. But has ballet ever been "pure art?" If we look at the origins of classical ballet, I think we will see that ballet has always served a multitude of functions, including in a very early and important instance, the function of branding.

 

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