The Secret to Raving Fans

Have you ever wondered what the REAL secret is with having raving fans?

Have you ever seen people absolutely foaming at the mouth for the next piece of art from their favorite Artist and questioned,
How come that’s not happening to me?

These audiences are lining up around the block for the next,
Bruno Mars concert ticket
Game of Thrones book
Hamilton Broadway ticket
Entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Louvre
Release of the latest Harry Potter….

You scratch your head as you look at another lukewarm reception to your latest release, or random clapping to your performance and go,
WHAT the HECK?!

How do Artists have these massive followings on Instagram?
How do Artists sell out their concerts?
How do Artists get top dollar for their original work?
How do Artists make it to the NY Times Bestseller List?

Because, at the root of the question is,
I’m working so hard, why isn’t this happening for ME?

Super frustrating, right?

I hear you.  I felt the same way.  I was killing myself with dance classes, voice lessons, meeting casting directors, having perfect head shots and eye-catching audition outfits…and yet I hit a ceiling.

My talent was not reflecting my audience.  There was a disconnect.  For my level, I should have been CHOOSING between different Broadway shows….and yet, I couldn’t make it past final callbacks to even book ONE.

Have you ever felt this?
What do we do in this moment?

How do we turn it around and truly receive the acclaim we desire?

How does our effort and talent actually equate to a thriving career and raving fans that support, cherish and love us?

 

This past weekend I went to see one of my closest friends, Lisa, present her MFA Thesis project at Martha Graham Studios.  The culmination of two years of work, I couldn’t wait.

Lisa is one of the top jazz teachers in NYC, and I take her class weekly.  She’s a real anomaly in the dance world, as she specializes in technical jazz.  So much of the classical jazz form in dance has been watered down, and Lisa has really stayed more true to the art, keeping it very technical and clean.  It’s solid, and I always leave sweating, strong, and smiling. And I’m never alone….

She has a packed class every week.  She has students that come back, regulars who have been taking her for years, and because of her class they are booking company work and theater gigs. We are FANS, plain and simple.

So, it’s no surprise to know that when Lisa’s MFA Thesis performance piece was over, the whole audience leapt to their feet, shouting and screaming.  The dancers were glowing, Lisa was beaming, and we all felt fabulous.

But Lisa was not the only choreographer to present her work that night.  She was actually second, and the first performance was beyond painful.

I actually wanted to walk out.

How can this be possible?
Two choreographers going through the same program, and yet one created a desire to leave, and the other had me on my feet ready for more?

And it all comes down to ONE thing:
Connection.

On the first piece, the choreographer (who also danced in the piece) was literally having a temper tantrum on stage.  At one point she was gasping and screaming in circles on the ground, and all I could think was,
Do you care I am here?

What was Missing?
CONNECTION TO THE AUDIENCE.

I felt completely disconnected watching her piece.  I felt completely in the dark about what was really going on, but most of all, I felt she didn’t CARE whether or not I was involved.

And I was not alone.  When her piece awkwardly ended, there was barely any clapping.  Hands barely met, as I imagine everyone was confused.

Will I return to see this choreographer’s work again?
No.

Will the rest of the audience?
I doubt it.

Why?
We were not included in the performance.
We were on the outside.

Her piece was purely about her, her rage, and her pain.  It literally was akin to a two year old having a tantrum to say, ME ME ME!  As a new choreographer, she made a mistake I see Artists of all ages make again and again,
they FORGET to include their audience.
They forget about the WE.

Because honestly, there is no Artist without an Audience, and there is no Audience without an Artist.  It’s a relationship. It goes TWO ways.

So, why did Lisa’s piece receive a standing ovation?
We were included.  Energetically, physically, in every way…..and that translates to raving fans.

And trust me, I GET the desire to express rage.  In fact, some of the most powerful work happening right now is dealing with very dark issues, like depression, inequality, racism, and bullying.

Dear Evan Hansen, speaking into bullying, is THE top ticket on Broadway right now, and it’s extremely dark….but the difference comes in the HOW. The difference comes in YOUR intention.

The writers of Dear Evan Hansen are looking to raise awareness around this topic, they are looking to ENGAGE the audience, and ask powerful questions so that they then go into the world and make new choices.

People leave inspired, not shut down.

Because, let’s be honest……we don’t need more isolation.

We don’t need more messages telling us we are alone, no one cares, and we don’t matter.  People, YOUR AUDIENCE is starving for connection.  In a world where communication seems to mostly happen electronically, where we find out our friends challenges through a social media platform, where the next generation has lost the ability to have a face to face conversation when they are scared…..

Art matters.
Art is a catalyst.

It allows our audience to access their emotions in a way nothing else does.

So, take a moment and ask yourself:
Are you connecting with your Audience?
Are you including them in your Work?
Are you engaging with them?

And most of all…what is your INTENTION?

Is it to connect or isolate?

 

Be clear on WHY you are creating in the first place.  If you are receiving lukewarm applause, come back to center, and back to square one.

Come out of isolation.

Set your intention to connect and include them.  Engage with them, and learn what they NEED.  Learn what they WANT, and then partner together.

This is a relationship.  Cultivate it with love and mutual understanding.

They come to you starved, feed them, and in doing so, feed yourself.

Open the loop and let them in.

Planting the Seed

I’m pregnant.

It’s my deepest dream come true.

I feel my expansive belly, the warmth as my hand glides over my full curves, and I begin to weep.  I’ve wanted this for so long…..

In fact, I went through a very dark time in my mid 30’s where I thought I actually couldn’t get pregnant.  I thought something was wrong with me.

Turns out, it was the wrong partner. My body knew…..

And now it’s here.
It’s real.

Creation at it’s most profound….human life.

Can you feel it?
How real it is?
Do you see it?

I do.

This is my future. I’m planting the seed.

As I sit here and write to you, I can feel my soft flat belly……there is no life in there right now. Not yet.

But I know there will be….

And it all began with a work of Art.

 

I’m a huge fan of Feng Shui.  When I was single, my consultant, Josiah Bouricius, came to my little 300 square foot apartment in Astoria and helped me turn that space from a single woman’s hideaway to a single woman CALLING IN her man.

I got rid of water in the bedroom, moved my mirror so it wasn’t reflecting on my bed, took down the single woman photos and art, and added vibrant color where needed.

Most importantly, I added inspiration.

And not just any inspiration, but one of the most famous works of art reproduced today,
Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss.

Every day, I would wake to the luscious image of a woman being cherished and adored, held in a passionate embrace, and I would feel into it.  Every night, I would look at it, and close my eyes, imagining connecting with the generous heart of my man.

And then one day….that amazing man walked into my apartment, professing love, and the single woman was no longer alone.

From Klimt to reality, WOW.

Josiah came to my new home in NJ, and while we originally hung the Klimt in our bedroom, Josiah recommended our next future vision.

A family.

So, I went searching online, and on Pintrest found this incredible artist,
Katie M. Berggren.

Her work took mine and my man’s breath away.  Every image was an ode to motherhood, to the beauty of children, and to family.

Her swirls of color, softness, and magic spoke directly to what we both desired.

So I ordered one of her stretched canvas prints, and it arrived last night.

Holding each other in an embrace, my man and I took in the image.
We felt the image.

And were inspired.

Today I woke, and sat on my bed, staring at the faces, serene and pure, feeling into this greater love.
And tonight, I will imagine calling in these children to me, feeling their hearts, much like I did early last year, staring at the Klimt.

This the the power of Art.
It’s magical really.

Did you know you could create this?
Did you know you have the power to create change in your audience’s lives?

Klimt did for me….and I can’t wait to send a thank you card to Katie Berggren when my belly is swelling with life.

 

It’s so easy to forget what is possible with our work.

And I get it!  There were definitely many days I felt so discouraged from another failed audition.  I would show up so ready to wow the casting directors, putting on my vibrant leotard, only to be wiping back tears of confusion and embarrassment an hour later after being cut.

I can remember doing a summer production of “Bells Are Ringing” way back in my late 20’s where I was counting down the days until the contract was over.  I hated the theatre, felt completely disrespected by the creative team, and the audience’s were small. My role was laughable, and I was not challenged at all.

Was I really making a difference?

It can be really discouraging to put so much of ourselves into our work, and not see the return we desire.

So, what can you do?

I invite you to remember.
Remember WHY you came to your Art in the first place.

I remember the last time I was a Rockette, I did a ton of PR.  I did many radio and TV interviews, and also did meet and greets with audience members after the show.

I remember before one show coming in and seeing this little girl, all dressed up with her mother, clutching her program and a pen.

When she saw me, her whole face lit up. Beaming, she held out her program and pen, asking me to sign it, saying,
When I grow up, I want to be a Rockette too!

I had to blink back tears, because at that point I was in my early 30’s and really starting to feel the pull of motherhood.  But what struck me most, was her open energy, and even more so, the OPPORTUNITY I had as an Artist to make an impact on her.

As I took in her flushed cheeks, I remembered being 11 years old, and staring wide eyed from my seat in the London Theatre as Cats danced and sang all around me.

Because of that production, I went into musical theatre as a profession.

What could happen for this little girl in this moment?
Could this be the seed planted for her, connecting to her deepest desire?

Not only did this moment remind me of WHY I became a dancer in the first place, but reminded me of the impact I have on my audience.

And that special moment also gave me inspiration to dance my best on stage.

It’s actually a loop of energy.

 

Your connection to your audience is paramount.

Are you feeding this inspiration?
Do you know what they need?
Do you know what they like?

What struck me most in my experience buying from Katie Berggren was her personal touch.  Not only did she email me directly, she also sent me a separate envelope with her line of greeting cards, a personally written thank you, and her promo materials.

Her customer service was impeccable.  She knew exactly what I needed.

I felt so supported by the entire experience, so that when the time came to hang the print last night, my man and I felt not only connected to the Art, but also the Artist.

Because of that, I will recommend her to everyone.

Katie is planting the seed.
Much like those dancers did in Cats for me when I was 11.
Much like I did for that little girl backstage….

Your work matters.

Art has the power to create change.
It even has the power to create life.

Katie shared with me her artwork has been hung by many women, desiring to be mothers, and has helped them to become pregnant.

So, come back to your inspiration today.

Remember WHY you became an Artist, feed your inspiration, and CONNECT with your audience.

It’s a loop of energy.

If you don’t know what they need or like, find out.

Let the relationship blossom.
Plant the seed.

And watch new life begin.