NET/TEN Shareback: Forklift Danceworks - Social Media and the Creative Process

Fall 2016 Travel Grant Recipient

Forklift Danceworks (Austin, TX) engaged in a weeklong residency with Rotterdam Neighbourhood Theatre (Rotterdam, The Netherlands). Together, they worked with the Rotterdam Sanitation Department to explore and share community-based methods. The week culminated with open rehearsals and a free, public workshop performance featuring the sanitation workers.


As we began this residency, we decided that we would do a blog. A tech professional that we are cultivating for our board recommended that we do a video blog to showcase our work and create digital content. We used this residency to practice capturing video and still images of our process on a daily basis. (It was helpful that it was a short period of time that we could concentrate these efforts.)

Content we focused on capturing:

  • Moving and still images of the work environment
  • Artists engaging with community participants
  • Moments of research, rehearsal and performance
  • Members of ensemble working together
  • Lead artists’ daily highlights
  • Portraits of community/ensemble members
  • Voices of community collaborators
  • Documentation by community collaborators

Some best practices we discovered and will continue:

  • Each day, we (the two lead artists) videoed each other with a recap of what happened that day and highlights and artistic discoveries from our process.
  • We shared the duties as much as possible—two artists in the field and posting their own social media and then another person off site (staff back home) to sort and sequence as well as curate and share across platforms. We also asked community members to video us at work and rehearsals at different moments. This allowed each ensemble member to use their personal voice that was then shared on behalf of the ensemble/organization.
  • To develop carefully crafted and curated content on our org’s page/blog, we shared content on personal pages first (just to get it up there) and had another staff/artist member view with an outside eye to share and reframe for the organizational page or blog.
  • For technical integration, we’ve chosen platforms that work for us and stuck with them—we already have FB, Instagram, and Twitter, plus a blog. Keeping our content living in those places made it easier for us to keep up with and easier for our audience to find things.
  • We explored Storify, but had problems integrating with our current blog. That involved:

    • Installing the Storify extension on my chrome browser, which adds a “Storify” button to FB posts and comments that allows you to save posts over to the Storify platform,
    • Putting all the posts in order and adding headings and captions to build a Storify story.
    • We then could’ve published that story and it would’ve created a standalone page (not on our blog) that we could’ve sent folks to.
  • Well-established platforms like Wordpress are safer bets and we already have a blog started there.
  • The thing we were reminded of is that instructions on how to do almost everything technical/computer/social-media-related exist online (for example “how to embed instagram posts on wordpress”)—so if you don’t know how to do something, don’t be intimidated, just google it!
  • After our staff member curated the blog, lead artists reviewed and filled in the blanks or added more context to create a sense of story and flow to the blog.
  • We’ve received great feedback from the social media posts. We’ve talked to many people at events since who said they “felt like they were there with us.” And because we were sharing and taking from our personal accounts, the reach was larger than we expected.
  • It was fun to integrate documentation into our creative process (something we’ve been talking about and trying to figure out for long time) and include it as a component of our relationship building! Having support of other staff made it doable.


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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

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