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.

Spotlight

sunshine-spotlight

I’m flat on my back, with faces all around me.
From absolute darkness, my eyes open.

Where am I?
What happened?

The lights are up and I’m laying in the center of the stage, and the whole cast is looking down at me….my director, the stage manager, my dancers’ heads forming a circle of concern as I gaze up and try to make sense of how I got here.

And then I feel it….my ankle, throbbing, and pulsing.

Nikol, are you ok? 

And it all starts to flood back….standing out in the audience watching my dress rehearsal of the musical, Little Shop of Horrors.  My Ronnettes standing up on the balcony stage left doing the exact choreography I asked them to do.  I realized I had given them some bad direction, so I went running down the audience steps to hop onto the stage to change it.

And because it was dress rehearsal, the lights were out in the audience.  The stage, however, was fully lit….so I ran completely in the dark.

And what I didn’t see was the orchestra pit was lowered, just one foot. Just one foot in the dark, and down I went.  I sprained my ankle so badly, I went into shock and passed out immediately.

And woke up on my back, center stage.

 

When we think of Center Stage, there is such a quick association.  You, standing there, feeling the glow of the lights on your face, your adoring fans cheering for you…

Or are the lights burning, and you hear only silence?

If we could truly inhabit a place of peace under the lights, one where we felt confident, and at ease, what would it take for you to get there?

How would you fill the seats, and how would you stand there knowing you had something WORTHY to say?

And most importantly, how would you stand there consistently, instead of feeling a quick flash and then finding yourself flat on your back?

I don’t think any of us are looking to be a One Hit Wonder, sell one big painting, write one book, or give one speech.  We’re actually having a real conversation around how to truly stand Center Stage over and over, without broken bones and broken spirits.

We’re talking about having a rich and prosperous life based on your Creative Gifts.

So, probably best not to go running in the dark…..

 

I grab my suitcase and walk through the open doorway, closing it ever so gently as the music begins lightly; Andrew Lloyd Weber’s soft ballad emerging from the orchestra pit.

I place the suitcase center stage, and sit down on it, taking a moment to look out at the thousands of audience members. Both spotlights are on me, I inhale, and then begin to sing Another Suitcase in Another Hall.

It’s 2005, and I’m on my first National Tour, the 25th Anniversary production of Evita, working with the original Broadway team, and tonight I am on for the role of the Mistress.

I practiced for this moment, rehearsing for weeks as the understudy, waiting to stand here and sing a solo to the largest audience I have performed to, and I wasn’t nervous.  In fact, I felt free.  I felt fantastic, and as each note emerged from my throat, I felt even more strength for my abilities.

Standing Center Stage, I sang.  Standing Center Stage, I claimed my spotlight, the one I had been working so hard for in my career, with all my training, and with all my heart.

And those 7 months on the road with Evita, to this day, remain some of the most magical in my life.  I was happy, fulfilled, prosperous, and doing what I loved.

Isn’t that what we are talking about?

It was a far cry from the 20 something who went running in the dark, blind to what twisted my ankle, blind to the floor falling out beneath me.

So, what are you blind to?

 

What if you could improve your sight and learn how to stand under the lights and gaze out at thousands of enraptured faces?

Well, now you can.  You can learn not only from my 20 years of experience on the professional stage, but from the top experts in the field, sharing all their knowledge on mindset, marketing, social media, strategy, and pricing.

You can learn how to prosper in this marketplace, and thrive in your Artistry.

You can learn how to truly make a living from your Creative Gifts, and earn what you are worth.

I’ve brought them all together for a very special event, so you don’t have to twist and fall as I did.  You don’t have to go through these challenges alone, or struggle with methods that promise a “quick fix” and then don’t deliver.

Take a moment with me, close your eyes, and feel the lights on your face.  Now imagine that under those lights you are happy, fulfilled, and earning a living doing what you love.

That’s Center Stage, and it waits for you.

Come join us and reserve your Free Front Row Ticket today.
CLICK HERE to sign up.

Bring your suitcase.  We’ve got your back. Let’s get you off the floor and standing tall.

Come learn how to be Center Stage and In Demand.

 

 

Photo credit: Caitlin Cannon Photography